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POST-WAR   AUSTRIAN  WRITERS                   511

witches in the Middle Ages were not burnt for witchcraft, but
because some grand seigneur or other was a sadist and fed his senses
on the sight of torture; in the fifteenth century manuscript he
discovers and makes his reputation by interpreting the feudal
chatelaln abducts two buxom and ultra-respectable middle-class
women and deals with them as witches, feeding his eyes on their
disrobing and whipping, because they obstinately reject his claim
to seigneurial rights. Perversely enough they admit to their beds
the two pages who keep guard on them by sleeping on their
thresholds in the castle, and this satisfies the witch-hunter - he
was possessed by the craving to prove that they were not virtuous,
and, having found his pages in their beds, he releases them. The
historical veracity of all this is obviously spurious; it serves merely
as proof of the doctrine that we are pathologically possessed. And
in this way, we must understand, a Weltanschauung logical on the
face of it may degenerate by its very intensity of conviction into
a morbid obsession; for it may take hold of one's original nature
and transform it. These obsessions confront us as contraries, as
in religion or politics; e.g. Klasse oder Rasse. Thus there is the con-
trast of the muscular sport-loving and studious girls of today
^Denaturierte*}, who are dismissed by Schlaggenberg as vampyres
because their only aim is to marry and be kept, with the ripe, ex-
perienced widows or wives whose natural function it is to mother
young bloods who are thus saved the burden of marriage; he
writes a chronique scandaleuse, which he hands over to von Geyren-
hojff for his chronicle, on these Dicke Damen, for short D.D's.
Rene von Stangeler adds to his lubie of lounging ohm Hosentrager
the determined conviction that young men of the learned classes
- in particular university hopefuls - should be excused marriage,
but that they should be admitted to marital rights while post-
poning marriage or even, as he does, refusing it; professional
scholars, he urges, should not be hampered by household obliga-
tions. And so in both novels of the cycle Rene is received as the
unmarried husband of Grete Siebenschein; he works at his re-
search in her room, and when her parents go out for the evening
she is his. . . .

The period of Die Ddmonen runs from the spring of 1926 to the
burning down by incendiaries of the Justispalast on the i5th of
July, 1927; a conflagration which is symbolical of what is coming
to all Europe and in Austria foreshadows the years after 1933 with