In the meantime, in a solitary position, since 1891 Stefan George with few faithful, had begun in the Blätter für die Kunst (1892-1919) his activity for a more essential and profound understanding of art and its value for men. Although he too originally moved from the French symbolists, he had found there only an experience in the evolution of the group’s thought, for which art rose to religious value, and the cult of art to severe discipline, and the elevation of life-enhancing art. George himself rose from the translations of Verlaine and Baudelaire to the poetry of high tone and exquisite internal resonances of the Jahr der Seele (1897), to conclude with the lapidary “announcements” of the last work. But it also gave rise to a whole renewal in critical thought, of which the monumental representations of Goethe, of Caesar, of Shakespeare, made by Friedrich Gundolf (1880-1931), are a document. And at the same time the spiritual atmosphere was created, in which some of the purest poets of the last decades were able to create their work: some of them divided from George by contrasts of thought; but all share the same high sense of the value of style: RM Rilke (1875-1926), who drew some of the most delicate and pure accents of modern poetry from the ecstatic religiosity of his spirit; H. v. Hoffmannstahl (1874-1929), who from the full harmonious lyrical impetus of youthful poetry, through the decadent pomp of the dramas of maturity, finally he reached the levity of the latest comedies and the inspiring religiosity of the last theater, until his life tragically broke in the coffin of his suicidal son; GH Borchardt, who drew the full, sonorous sense of form from southern poetry, especially Italian, to which he continues to inspire both his poetry and his stylistic interpretation of Dante; Hans Carossa, who in the airy, clear, weightless prose of Eine Kindheit (1922), resolved the most indefinable intimacies of the soul into transparencies; RG Binding, which in the purity of the style went beyond, clarifying it, his romantic sentiment.
However, according to RECIPESINTHEBOX, the last compact movement of German literature was independent of the poets of this trend. Like those that preceded it, it too was an evolution of general taste, a movement of masses, not of exceptional men. And it too, like Impressionism, drew its name from the figurative arts: expressionism. The positions of impressionism were reversed. The external world is nothing but matter: the poet creates poetry from the inside, posing the material according to his inspiration. Only within the individual is life freedom, infinite reality. And from within the poet must give shape to his world, which also finds in the poet’s truth what alone can be his truth. Only in this way can life be seen again according to its ethical and religious values, in a perspective of eternity. Even before the war the movement had established itself. Frank Wedekind himself (1864-1918), who grasping with a brutal hand what is most delicate in man, had unscrupulously and shamelessly brought it to the theater, transforming the drama into an impetuous ballad, where humanity in the attraction and struggle of the sexes it dizzily sinks, in this sense it had opened perspectives towards a new art. And hints of it had already surfaced especially in the field of criticism, through writers of opposing tendencies. Young new poets had inspired their poetry, from Germany Heym (1887-1912), who died at the age of twenty-four, to the young F. Werfel, to the young Max Brod, etc. The war, and even more, the tragic situation of Germany after the war, accelerated, on the contrary, they precipitated its development. In a collective psychology, in which the collapse of national power caused moods of disorientation with no way out, individual sentiment offered the only way to recover. Spengler proclaimed the decline of Western civilization; the triumphant relativist philosophy proclaimed the transience and transience of all values; the social revolution was urgent at the gates. Life could only be a starting over: the individual face to face with God; face to face with all moral values, all fallen, all to be reconstituted.
Just as Einstein’s scientific theories pretended to deduce a philosophical position in a relativistic sense, so from Freud’s psychiatric investigations it was believed to be able to draw, together with a renewal of psychology, a whole new aesthetic. Every mysticism triumphed: even that of Keyserling and that of Steiner. In every aspect of life, the hidden force that determines it was sought. The favorite world of poetry became the world of the subconscious, where the forms of life are still indistinct. Everywhere the poem wanted to be Urschrei who reveals the Urgründe of existence. Infinity, eternity, universe, cosmic truth: the individual, already lost in the world of reality, suddenly seemed to have found everything within himself, in the chaos of his own tumultuous feelings. There has never been a greater orgy of big words. In the lyric a broken and ecstatic style was determined, turgid with images, exalted, baroque, not infrequently grotesque. An extreme intensity of tone and an extreme condensation of pathos dominated the drama and the novel. In linguistic weaving the logical links were attenuated and dissolved. The poem seemed to aspire to become “an earthquake of emotions”. And if in the lyric from Germany Trakl and E. Stadler, who died very young in war, up to R. Schickele, H. Lersch, R. Becher, I. Goll, E. Lasker-Schüler, liberation from all the bond of traditional forms sometimes led to an immediacy of verbal explosion that could lead one to believe the real advent of a new poem; and if this release from F. v. Unruh, to E. Barlach, to C. Sternheim, to E. Toller, to Hasenklever, to P. Kornfeld, aroused even greater hopes as a theatrical experience for the fluency of movement and the novelty of dramatic situations that seemed to be able to derive from it. on the other hand, it was precisely in the confused disorder and in the frenzied vehemence of the inspiring attitudes that Expressionism found its end. In the lyric poetry was realized only in fragments: and equally fragmentary it appears also in the larger works, as in the Hymne an Italien and in Däubler’s Nordlicht. In the play, only one personality truly continued to develop from its own inner fullness: Georg Kaiser. In the novel, despite some manifestations of singular interest, now artistic now psychological, by, among other things, K. Edschmid, M. Brod, O. Flake, Klabund, Kafka, Zweig, etc., more than works of art there were searches and presentiments of a style not reached. Within a few years, the same writers who had dominated the movement felt the need for a new word. In that world of vertigo “many values, not only aesthetic ones, had sunk”. And a new desire for concreteness, for clarity, for objectivity, for reality arose. They all renewed themselves. Werfel became the; L. Frank became the author of Karl und Anna ; H. Hesse himself, after Steppenwolf, wrote Trost der Nacht. But above all it was the younger generation that sought their own path in this direction. Tones of irony appeared in the lyric, as in Kästner’s. In the drama, both in the form of social drama, with B. Brecht, A. Bronnen, F. Bruckner, etc., and in the form of historical drama with B. Frank, A. Neumann, W. Goetz, E. Ortner, etc.., the expressive force was sought in a naked “style of facts”. In the novel – past the fashion of already triumphant war books with E. Remarque, L. Renn, E. Glaeser, A. Zweig, etc. – the “men of the day” became A. Döblin, A. Grimm, H. Johst, etc., who in various ways approached the naked reality of their time in their work. Certainly it is a new realism, which has expressionism behind it and in new attitudes has partly inherited its spirit, and it is profoundly different from that of the era of naturalism. Behind certain simplifications of style – as in the way of narrating by J. Roth or by WE Schäfer, or by O. Heuschele, etc. – as well as behind therealistic-romantic pathos by Paula Grogger; behind the naked linearity of R. Billinger’s lyric as well as behind the rude and powerful mystical simplicity of M. Mell’s sacred drama, the feeling of reality to which everyone adheres is often presented with an accent of lyricism, the more intense the less striking . But here is the strength and originality of the new movement that has emerged. The two artistic experiences of Expressionism and the Neue Sachlichkeit cannot be separated, although they love to oppose each other: they form two successive moments of a unique spiritual experience, beyond which poetry in Germany is looking for its new ways.