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Full text of "ModernGermanLiterature18801950"

POST-WAR  AUSTRIAN  WRITERS                   513

the novel the highest classes come into contact with the lowest
strata of society, and indeed some of the most readable chapters
(perhaps because they come close to 'what the public wants') are
those which lay bare the lives of prostitutes who by reason of their
haunts and calling come into contact with a murderer, the 'King of
the Underworld'. Common to both novels is the financier Levielle,
whose manipulations wind through the woof of the story and keep
the reader's mind alert for the coming revelations; but these reve-
lations - since money is recovered - conduce to the happy endings,
and perhaps for this reason this wretch and rogue is permitted to
'retire' to Paris. The sum total of Die Ddmonen would seem to be
negative; the characters are one by one dissected, there is no con-
demnation of their mode of life - not even, in set terms, of the
financial rogues; the reader condemns them or acknowledges that,
constituted as they are, they cannot act otherwise. Certain people
(aristocrats in particular) are congenitally empty-headed, we are
told, and whatever experience they may have leaves them so. They
may be attractive; they may, by luck or guile, be successful. Even
Rene Stangeler is one of these people; he remains (for all his
studies) unripened; there is no Menschwerdung, because there is no
Mensch. All the same the total sense is positive. There is a cry for
egalitarianism; this, however, means not Gemeinschaft^t Gemein-
heit, which can only be a passing phase; what lasts and shapes the
world is that which is incommunicable, the sterling qualities of
the gifted individual who has no 'demon'. Nothing in the whole
cycle of novels is exaggerated or glaring. All is finely toned; but
over all the epic panorama there is a mood of strangeness as if
everything were seen through erkuchtete Fenster. The intention is
that the reader should be aloof (distan%lert}\ feelings of sympathy
or affection for the characters would be out of place; the reader

observes - and comprehends. This is life - anywhere-----

Of MARTINA WIEB (1882- ), a Viennese born and bred, we can
say that, though the main lines of her work are traditional in form
and to some extent even sensational in theme, her technique is in
intention existential. She prefaces one of her novels with Kierke-
gaard's Geisters^ene motto; and she prides herself that her first
novel, Das Asylum obdachtosen Geist, was the first in the existential
mood and manner, for it was written in 1925^6, long before
Sartre, and appeared serially in the Wiener Zeitwg (in book form
1950 as Kettingrath\ Her lyric poetry is collected in selected form