Germany Literature from 1750 to the Present Day Part 8
According to LOCALBUSINESSEXPLORER, it is a poem that arises out of every possible grouping of schools and trends: a poem of men who bring into their work at most the small world to which they belong and above all bring themselves, their own subjective experience into it. Not otherwise, after the passionate romantic poems of the Peregrina cycle, E. Mörike (1804-1874), who became parish priest of Cleversulzbuch in 1834, quietly waited, for himself, to grasp the imperceptible voices of life, to translate into images the poetry of things that seem to have none, to plot exquisite delights from the side, aware that “perfect things rest eternally blissful in themselves”: and thus he rose above the tormented restlessness of his spirit, resolving, now with a smile, now with a tear, every experience of life in images of clear grace. Not otherwise, in the face of the lonely red heatherland of her Westphalia, Annette Droste-Hülshoff (1797-1848) between a brief illusion and a long pain of the heart, remote from the world, reflected, in a poem full of sensations of subtle analysis and of visionary power, his feeling of the great mystery that lies behind every heartbeat of life, or was exalted in the thought of God to the point of finding in himself an almost medieval ascetic severity. Not otherwise Jeremias Gotthelf (1797-1854), in the daily observation of the life of the peasants of his parish in Lützelflüh in the Bernese, apart from any external literary contact, found the way towards his primitive and raw, virgin poetry of country life that it was to appear later almost a revelation.
If a trend emerges that ideally brings together different personalities in a common orientation, it is precisely the need to take back a foothold in reality, to feel the mainland below, to look closely at things, describe them as they are, call them by their name. Even L. Tieck (1773-1853), despite his origins and despite the romantic-academic taste of the environment in which he lived, in Dresden, in the shadow of the protection of John of Saxony the Philalete, ended in his last stories with a clear adherence to this widespread and general trend towards realism. After the Scott-like novels, in which he had rivaled Hauff, Willibald Alexis (1798-1871) reached his best work when, while remaining faithful to the historical narrative, assuming the people as the main hero, he not only limited himself to seeking the color of the weather, but he began to observe the people as they are, always, with their simple instincts, with their primitiveness, with their crude and sometimes brutal but generous strengths, full of obscure elementary vitality. By analogous via Charles Sealsfield, der Europamüde (“the weary of Europe” 1793-1864), rather than in the adventurous exoticism, reached its most effective moments in the immediacy and hardness of analysis of the still primitive North American life. On the contrary, it is observed that precisely the most complex and highest ambitious spirits – who had remained closest to the deepest spiritual anxiety of the early Romanticism – were also the most decisive in the evolution towards the new attitude. Starting from romantic beginnings in life as in art, the poet of Merlin, K. Immermann (1794-1840), after having searched in vain in dramas and lyrics, in poems and comedies, a deepening of what the previous generation had accomplished, Die Epigonen, 1836; Memorabilien, 1840-43), finally reached with the Oberhof (1838-39), in the realistic representation of Westphalian village life, the true spontaneous vigor of his art. Musician and playwright, restless and brooding nature, Otto Ludwig (1813-1865) with his imagination in continuous ferment and in continuous instability, after having tormented himself in a continuous effort of always new projects, always shipwrecked in the vortex of vague intuitions in which overwhelmed the obsessive study of Shakespeare, finally closed with the imagination in a limited and narrow world, but precise, concrete, created with the drama of the Erbförster (1850) and with two broad stories of country life a poem of warm human truth, living and lasting; in Makkabäer themselves (1832) the poetry of martyrdom draws its novelty from this realistic tone. Scholar of anatomy and physiology, materialist for excess of romanticism, Germany Büchner (1813-1837), after the cynicism and horror of Dantons Tod (1835), where every spiritual impulse falls upon itself sterile and a great nausea is the only meaning of life, finally rose in the air, clear poetry of the fragment of a short story about Lenz (1836) where reality is not only felt but loved. Only C. Grabbe (1801-1836), to whom a Faust and a Don Giovanni alone were not enough as a poem argument, so much so that it took both of them for him to draw his chaotic-ingenious drama (Don Juan und Faust, 1829), he never managed to come to terms with reality: he too was attracted to reality, but to draw the consequence that all that is great dies and only vulgarity remains.