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Full text of "ModernGermanLiterature18801950"

POST-WAR   AUSTRIAN  WRITERS                   523

is symbolic); and here in the elemental forces of the Alpine land-
scape - raging torrents and forests bending in the wind - we have
by symbol the outer expression of his forward-rushing strength
of will. His son commits suicide, and in the end he is the victim of
his own morbid determination to dominate all about him. Qdbofis
thus a Famlienroman in its outlines; but it marks a new genre by
reason of its intensive study of the lust of possession (Herrschsuchf)
in a male; or, as the critics say, it is mannlich, whereas the next
novel, Die Ortliebschen Frauen (1917), may by way of contrast be
classed as weiblich. The first and far better title (because symbolic
of the inner meaning) was Das Grab des Lebendigen, but this was
objected to in Nazi days as pessimistic, and had to be altered. This
second novel is more complex; there is much more in it than
possessive passion in the dominating character, the very demon of
the story. This is Josefine, the elder daughter of a minor public
official in Vienna, who has died leaving his wife in straitened cir-
cumstances with two daughters who have left school, and a crip-
pled son, Walter, who is still at school. Josefine with her iron will
rules over the household from the time her father dies; what might
be her saving quality is her overweening possessive love of her
brother. She-devil as she is, she prevents her younger sister Anna
from marrying, though the prospective bridegroom offers to take
charge of the whole family. The boy is patronized by die alte Dame
(her name is not given), whose gardener had been the Ortliebs*
grandfather. Walter is allowed to play music with die alte Darned
granddaughter, Olga; they have their little concerts in the man-
sion; but Josefine, jealous of Olga, puts an end to what might
have developed to a romance. And when Josefine finds that Walter
is meeting a girl clerk at the bank where he is now working she
locks him up in a cellar until a charwoman informs the bank
manager, who sends the police. Josefine then, when the pistol she
was carrying in her pocket has been taken away, hangs herself.
The mother dies of heart failure. The cellar adumbrates the ori-
ginal title, Das Grab des "Lebendigen, but-the symbol embraces the
whole family. For the critic the problem is: is this melodrama, or
is it Tiefenpsycholoffe ? It is possible to argue that Josefine is a tragic
character driven by one consuming passion, and, as such, as dra-
matically convincing as, for instance, Ph&dre. Before she hangs
herself we find her crying: 'Walter! Meitx Walter!5 What motivates
the tragedy is repressed sex feeling. There are elements in the