Skip to main content

Full text of "ModernGermanLiterature18801950"

See other formats

508                   MODERN   GERMAN  LITERATURE

is a flight of steps which links two streets, as in the story all is
linked: present, past, and future and social grades of society; here
and hereabouts the decisive events of the novel take place. As to
the verbal style, a great feature (nachbarocK) is Doderer's mastery
of incapsulated sentences (Schaltsdfc(e), which remain clear how-
ever long they may be. This in musical terminology is contra-
puntal; indeed the whole structure is admittedly musical, built up
as it is of four phases or movements, actually headed Teile., and the
contrapuntal complexity of the style - wheels within wheels -pairs
with the concept that the experiences, like the roads and alleys,
wind and intersect but move finally to this controlling centre of
the rising flight of steps. And this fitting of the structure to cham-
ber music confirms Doderer's insistence that Die Strudelhofstiegt
and Die Ddmonen are not intended by him to be a unity; for by
comparison Die Dawonen has the construction of an opera on a
great scale with overture and finale (Das Feuer). Very marked is
the Austrian flavour of the vocabulary, and the apt use of racy
dialect; this makes the picture of Vienna, with its description of
hotels, cafes and eating-places and of its maze of streets (which
matches the maze of the construction) and of localities central and
suburban, delightful, though for full comprehension it entails
reading with a map of the city by one's elbow. Another feature of
Doderer's style is his allusive playing with the apparent and the
latent meaning of words (Laten^): Hingerissenheit and Gerissenheit;
Ver-Zwiflung; Pro-mnade; 'If/ nicht Zufall^ das was einem Menschen
%tt~fallt?*'; *Liebe 1st kein T&edingms^ smdern ein Eedingtes* In Doderer's
type of novel there is another radical departure from traditional
build-up. In a novel we have 'characters'; *a man of character'
succeeds because he Is such; a man of weak character fails because
that Is what he is. But does a successful man owe his success to his
character? There is no such thing as character in the accepted
sense, Doderer seems to argue; some men get what they want or
seek, but that is a matter of chance or situation; given the situation
the event follows. It is not 'character* that matters In the shaping
of life: character does not shape life and life does not shape char-
acter. On the contrary the course of events is shaped by ol rpoTroi,
or, more simply stated, turning points; all that happens is situations-
gemass. There are of course wide differences in persons; and it is
the province of the novelist to pierce to the very essence of these
differences, to the temperamental springs of impulse and therefore