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The New York herald. [volume] (New York, N.Y.) 1920-1924, April 02, 1922, SECTION EIGHT, Image 116

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Persistent link: https://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn83045774/1922-04-02/ed-1/seq-116/

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The World of Foreign Books
Books in Germany
WITH the mark at half a cent,
the future dark enough, the
Cultivated middle classes.
impoverished more and more, the
Germans are finding their old ref
uge?a refuge they have always cul
tivated in periods of national defeat
and political impotence?the life of
the mind. Paper is exceedingly hard
to get and excessively dear. A dis- [
tinguished critic writes me that he
cannot send me copies of Ids books.
They arc? out of print. The use of
paper can be risked only for books
8ure to sell 20,000 copies. Suppose
our publishers were similarly lim
ited. It is easy to imagine what, by
and large, our ek reading matter
would be like!
?What ar<? ihe Germans using their
paper for? One Berlin publisher an
nounces a new edition in six volumes
of the complete works of roe. Not
only a new edition but a new trans
lation. There is an older one. But
tr* art of translation has progressed.
Hence this venture. Another pub
lisher announces a magnificent ne<w
edition in tw?> large volumes of the
collected writings of Walt Whitman.
??In these books." the translator de
Clares, "the nascent German democ
racy can find a source of cosmic and
political inspiration." The set sells
at 170 marks. The publisher?it is
Fischer of Berlin, and so his figures
jnay be trusted?quietly declares that
four editions were sold before publl- j
Cation. It is the same with new edi
tions of Stendhal. Strindberg. Dos
toevski. Tolstoi. Dante.
Dehmel and Mann.
Two native German books stand
*ut at this moment. Neither Is a
?ov?L Both will have the widest
iireflation. For one is the legacy,
{he other the latest work, of a great
inan. These books are ' The Letters
pf Rirhard Dehmel" and ' Speech and
Answer," by Thomas Mann. If it
had not been for the war. which nat
urally interrupted the spread of their
International reputation, American
lover* of poetry would be better ac
quainted with Dehmel than they are
With Verhaeren or Paul Fort; they
Would be. as they soon will be, read
Ins Mann's "Buddenbrooks" and his
Shorter stories as they are reading
Jbanez and Hamsun.
i Dehmel'a letters are a document
fcnJ a book of the first order. They
present the living image of an in
tense. infinitely natural personality
and of a thinker who was unafraid.
They are brimful of human charm
a*, well as a confession of extraordi
nary frankness and import on all the
major phenomena of modern life.
Thoin is Mann has temporarily aban
doned fiction for the sake of helping
juui counseling the nation in its years
of hardship. He is a stylist of the
rank of Conrad. But his style is
clearer, simpler and more resonant.
K is as crystalline as his mind. Al
<irays a sound liberal, he is now
speaking to his native democracy in
words that every other democracy of
the world may well heed. The first
rate men transcend nationality. And
Thomas Mann is an artist and a per
sonality of the first order.
Philosophy and Sex.
We have heard faintly of Kduard
yon Keyserlinjc and his "Traveling
Diary of a Philosopher," a fascinat
ing book of observation, confession,
social philosophy and metaphysics
that took the public by storm. Key
serling is of the opinion that hard,
fclear. honest, consecrated thinking
can s*ve the world and the soul.
JlenPe he has established a free
school for philosophy." There are no
#ntran<-e requirements to this school
of thought, which is also a school of
spiritual clarification. Workingmen
attend it as well as professors from
the universities. The school has is
sued. under the editorship of its
founder, its first collection of writ
ings, "The Path of Perfection." And
this volume is being widely read side
by side with Frau Marie Encken
dorflfs "Reality and Legality in the
Life of Sex" and new editions of
Hans Bluher's famous ' The Func
tion of the Erotic in Human Society."
I place these extraordinarily differ
ent books side by side in order to
point out what I hope and believe
will be in the future the plane on
which the German and the American
minds must meet?the plane of vital,
practical philosophy which seeks to
face the truth in order to build a
better world.
Dnm* and Verse.
When it come3 to imaginative lit
erature there is no doubt that the
drama and lyrical poetry lead fiction
in Germany to-day. There is, for in
stance, Franz Werfel. He is a little
over 30 and already one of the chief
lyrical and philosophical poets in
Bui ope. His verse is as realistic as
Masefield's and as soaring as Francis
Thompson's, with all the ideas of the
future throbbing in it. Recently
Werfel has turned to the drama?to
a new kind of poetical and even lyri
cal drama which can actually be
played and is played in the theater.
His "Mirror Man" and "The Song of
Pan" are imaginative without being
remote and poetical, without ceasing
to be intensely realistic. How is that
union possible? students of English
poetry will ask. The answer is: By
virtue of the tradition established by
"Faust." Behind the latest radical
in German literature stands the
shadow of Goethe, the cosmic radical
whose example we may all, if we
work and think hard enough, reach
by and by.
Expressionism in the Oram*.
I haven't spoken of expressionism
in the drama, ft very one has been
doing that of late. And you can
read about it in an admirable Amer
ican book by Kenneth Macgowan.
But the latest man. the man of the
moment, in the expressionistic drama
is Ernst Toller, whose "Crowd"
"Masse Mensch"?Is now being
pla> ed in Berlin. Here the grimy
modern worker finds a new, strange
expression which is, again, intensely
realistic as well as intensely poetical.
Th-?re are choruses which remind
you of the tragedy of the Greeks
and an exactness of psychology that
reminds you of the plays of Gals
worthy or the novels of Dreiser.
Here is, if anywhere in the woWd to
day, a new art form. That is the
rarest of all things. It csnnot, per
haps, be transferred to the American
stage to-day. We should create and
evolve our own. But this new form
will not be without Its fructifying in
fluence on us.
In fiction the very latest man ia
undoubtedly Josef Ponten. His work
lias been appearing in the "Xeue
Rundschau," still th? best literary
periodical in Germany, as well as in
l-ook form. I*onten. like the older
masters of German fiction, cultivates
the "novelle." tV story of from 8.000
to 20,000 words, the form familiarized
to us by Henry James. He writes of
simple souls. His style is easy and
transparent, and there is little direct
analysis of any sort. Tet his merit
lies in the profoundness of the man
ner in which he exhausts his sub
jects. His saturation with them if
complete, and from his quiet narra
tives arise visions of man and of the
world that tug at the nerves of th?
reader and open the doors of tb?
Books of the Week
Continued from Preceding Page.
th? Rev Henry S. Whitehead. Dor
ran CC A Co.
Marti rid ale. S. J. In the "Catholic
Thouicht and Thinkers" series. P. J.
Kenedy ft Sons.
Maurice Wilkinson. Another in the
above mentioned series. P. J. Ken
edy & Hons.
City Government.
ERNMENT?By Charles M. Kassett. j
Statement of the various forms of
city government and the beat meth
ods of administration. Thomas T.
Crowe! I Company.
Charles M. Kassett. A description
of the important Institutions, activ
ities and undertaking? which per
tain to modern life in cities.
Thomas T. Crowel I Company.
Mrs. (>. Paul in association with Mrs.
Lloyd George and others. A cake
recipe for every day' of the year.
Moffat. Yard * Co.
and Paul Gregory Cloud. Intended
as a guide for the real estate bro
ker, the student who desires to enter
the businuw as a profession and the
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