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Full text of "ModernGermanLiterature18801950"

510                   MODERN   GERMAN   LITERATURE

Augen, is always ohne Hosentrager, and attracts his women with his
scent of lavender. But the core of people's characters is not to be
gathered from their 'attitudes*, but from the Laten^ of these (i.e.
what lies beneath their appearance or outward Haltung). The novel-
listic interest (in the accepted sense) centres in the female charac-
ters; in particular in Rene Stangeler's two sisters. A great part of
the novel is taken up with revealing with great psychological
detail how, why, and in what state of mind girls and married
women of the higher classes give way to men. The result arrived
at is that 'romance' as novelists depict it is - fiction; what decides is
blood pressure, not 'love'. And the results do not imply continu-
ance of the relationship; illegitimate children belong to nature's
way. Thus girls who have given way have not been 'seduced';
what happened bad to happen - at the given moment (p. 229, 235).
The one really decent girl is Paula Schachl, in 1911 a shorthand-
typist, seventeen years old when we first meet her. Stangeler
accosts her in a street, and she responds with casual friendliness;
they meet in caf<žs, they walk through the streets together, but the
situation for the loss of the girl's virginity does not accrue. She
fades out of the picture for a good stretch, and when she returns
she is happily married to a working man; she and her husband do
come into contact with the roystering ruck, but she remains
bourgeoise and decent. She is an effective Kontrastfigur, but one
feels that a walk in the woods with her boy might have ended
situationsgemass. The conclusion is that, morally considered, pre-
servation lies not in a good upbringing or religious rectitude but
in a chanceful escape from the situation. In other words there is
no virtue in being virtuous, but just luck.

In 1956 appeared Doderer's magnum opus, at which he had been
working for twenty-five years, Du*Damonm. It runs to 1345 pages.
The title is admittedly borrowed from Dostoieffsky's Die Ddmonen,
of which the English title is The Devils or The Possessed. Thematic-
ally The Possessed^ more close to the texture and intent of Doderer's
novel; the leading motif is that we all tend to be obsessed by
illusions which may go so far as madness but as a rule are a milder
form of 'craze', 'fixation* may be or 'complex', or as the French
say lubie. We are possessed of devils that cannot be driven into the
Gadarene swine. Driven down to their root causes they are likely
to derive from sexual urges. The nearest approach to demonology
proper is the dubious idea of that medievalist Ren6 Stangeler that