The German Classics of the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries, Volume 09 eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 647 pages of information about The German Classics of the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries, Volume 09.
exclusively to the action, he occasionally transfers it in part to the principal character, and thus does not arouse the sympathy which he needs for his hero until the end of the piece, instead of doing so in the very beginning.  For we immediately take for granted, even when we already know the poet, that he has made a mistake, that he is growing enthusiastic over something imperfect, immature, immoral, and that he demands of us to be enthusiastic with him.  That puts us out of humor, we do not await the end, and even when we do, and become aware of his real intention, we only partly abandon our former prejudice.  This has already been proved on various occasions.  Kleist, in his Prince of Homburg, moreover, touched what in his day was a most sensitive spot—­when Theodor Koerner made his characters run a race to see who could die first.  Fear of death and a hero!  That was really going too far!  It was an insult to every ensign “You ask a piece of bread and butter of me!  I will not give you that!  But my life you may have with pleasure!”




At the time of my birth my father possessed a small house, with a garden adjoining, in which stood some fruit trees; in particular one very productive pear-tree.  In the house there were three dwellings, the most pleasant and roomy of which we occupied; its principal advantage consisted in the fact that it was situated on the sunny side.  The other two were rented.  The one opposite to us was inhabited by an old mason, Claus Ohl, and his little stooping wife, and the third, to which a back-entrance through the garden gave access, by the family of a day laborer.  The tenants never changed, and for us children they belonged to the house, just like Father and Mother, from whom indeed, as regards loving attentions bestowed upon us, they differed but little, if at all.

Our garden was surrounded by other gardens.  On one side was the garden of a jovial master-joiner who loved to tease me.  Even now I cannot understand how he could take his own life, as he did, later on.  Once when I was a very little boy I had said to him over the hedge, with a precociously knowing look:  “Neighbor, it is very cold!” and he never grew weary of repeating this remark to me, especially in the hot summer months.

Next to the garden of the joiner was that of the minister.  It was inclosed by a high board fence, which prevented us children from looking over, but not from peeping through cracks and chinks.  This afforded us infinite pleasure in the springtime when the beautiful strange flowers which filled the garden, came up again; but we trembled lest the minister should catch sight of us.  We felt an unbounded reverence for him, which may have been inspired by his serious, severe, sallow face and his cold glance, as much as by his position and his functions, which seemed to us very imposing, such as, for example, walking behind the hearses, which always passed in front of our house.  Whenever he looked over at us, as he occasionally did, we stopped playing and crept back into the house.

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The German Classics of the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries, Volume 09 from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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