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enough, I own; but to a reflective mind, none the less sad and solemn; for in the death of which it speaks are involved deaths untold, innumerable.
I can understand what is meant by “a Dead Sea”; and should suppose it to be a sheet of water cut off from all intercourse with the main ocean; never rising with its flow; never sinking with its ebb; never skimmed by the sail of commerce; never flapped by wing of wandering bird; undisturbed by the bustle of the restless world; but slumbering in a desolate wilderness, far from the track of caravan, or railway, or steamship, in a stagnant, and tide-forgotten and unheeded repose.
But can such a term be applied to that Hellenic speech that in the Iliad has rolled, like the great Father of Waters, its course unhindered down three thousand years: that in Pindar still soars heavenwards, staring at the sun ; that rises and falls in Plato with the long, sequacious music of an Aeolian lute; that moves, stately and blackstoled, in Aeschylus, that reverberates with laughter half Olympian in Aristophanes; that pierces with a trumpet-sound in Demosthenes; that smells of crocuses in Theocritus; that chirrups like a balm-cricket, in Anacreon.
Or again, is that old Italian speech dead and gone, that murmurs in Lucretius a ceaseless, solemn monotone of sea-shell sound; that in Virgil flows, like the Eridanus, calmly but majestically through rich lowlands, fringed with tall poplars and rimmed with grassy banks; that quivers to wild strings of passion in Catullus ; that wimples like a beck in Ovid: that coos in Tibullus like the turtle; that sparkles in Horace like a well-cut diamond? If these languages be dead, then what language is alive?
MODERN LANGUAGES CONFERENCE
GOTTFRIED KELLER'S 'NOVELLEN" IN HIGH SCHOOLS.
PROFESSOR J. W. SCHOIL, UNIVERSITY OF MICHIGAN.
Teachers of German do not care to imitate a certain familiar beast
"auf dürrer Heide Von einem bösen Geist im Kreis herumgeführt” while “rings umber liegt schöne grüne Weide.” Dealing with a living language which is represented by a rich literature, we are not condemned to labor eternally with one fixed program.
Of course our Classic friends, who labor with the first four Books of Caesar, may find in him constant inspiration for twenty years in succession, catch glimpses of new depths of thought in his military reports, new beauties in his description of fortifications, new inoral grandeur in his political intriguing, etc., and so be able to serve him up year after year as an appetizing diet for High School students who are trying to build up and confirm some sort of cultural possessions for their future years.
Such geniuses are rare enough, however, even among teachers. In fact, the result is likely to be this. Caesar becomes a corpus vile for the same old linguistic dissections, repeated year after year until the teacher is staled and can not impart any enthusiasm to his class. Enthusiasm is contagious. So is indifference, disgust, tedium.
Now, I have begun by mentioning Caesar and our Classic friends, not because anything serious is the matter with either of them when rightly used, but because they are both sadly misused. Monotony is the first station on the road that leads to death. Death is merely perfected monotony. And we teachers of modern languages and literatures can die and mummify just as readily as our Classic brethren if we adopt a fixed program of readings.
Grammar teaching will have to remain much the same year after year, but text and materials may be varied from time to time. However, in the literature to be read as an accompaniment to the grammar drill a greater range of choice is offered.
What I wish to plead for here is an avoidance of that “easy descent into Hades" which we all know so well, the fixation of a program, the absolute mastery of it in every detail, which renders fresh preparation for each recitation unnecessary, or worse, not even tempting. We must keep interest fresh by variation from year to year.
I realize that this recommendation carries with it as a possible resultchaos. Schools might act individualistically. The teacher in charge might not always select materials wisely. Their graduates might come to the University with very little in common with graduates of other schools, and interfere with the best success of our classes.
Such considerations are, I believe, relatively negligible. The High School is not a mere feeder of colleges, and it probably ought not be. It is likely to become less and less a normal channel of entrance to college. It seems to me, that a differentiation must be made somehow or somewhere, so that two institutions may grow where but one now flourishes, one for those--the vast majority-who end their education in the High School, another for those few who enter college and university. Until that time comes, our High Schools are primarily finishing schools for our youth, and only secondarily preparatory schools for college.
Accordingly college entrance demands are likely to be ignored, except incidentally, in the arrangement of curricula, and with all due deference to those who differ, we ought not to dictate a policy for the many, for the sake of the few who directly concern us.
If it must be, why, let us have the chaos that may come. The remedy, and a strong corrective it is, lies in training the teacher who is to guide those affairs. An acquaintance with the best literature of Germany, with the German classics, using the word in a larger and better sense than that which limits it to Lessing, Goethe, and Schiller, is a necessary condition for all wise selection of materials.
We have such a flood of texts, some edited well, others not so well, some well worth editing, others not worth editing, many worth close study, others really worthless, that without good training, or good judgment, or both, the responsible teacher is left to sink or swim as best he may, with the aid of such straws or life-preservers in the way of advice and suggestion, which may be thrown out to him by publishers' representatives, fellow teachers, etc.
In this embarrassment of riches, which is piling up month by month, a reliable Inder Erpurgatorius would be helpful, but, for various reasons, teachers shrink from assuming any power of life and death over School Editions, and so we must help one another with our suggestions, and teach by faith that the results will be worth while, if not perfect.
I have come to think that we ought to postpone acquaintance with the so-called classics to a somewhat later date than we usually do in our German courses. There are various reasons for this opinion. Principally, however, the difficulty lies in the unsettling of the pupil's knowledge of syntax and word-values which he has gained in his elementary studies. The reading materials chosen to accompany grammar drill or conversation the first three years in High Schools, possibly longer, ought to be distinctly modern, and conform as nearly as possible to current usage.
There are various German writers of the highest quality, whose works might be used, if properly graded to the stage of advancement of the student. Among these are Gottfried Keller, the great Swiss German of the last century, a realist of the best type. If we might extend the term 'classic' to include the best typical writers of the various schools Keller should be recognized as a true German classic.
Some of his works, of course, are not at all adapted to class use. His ‘Grüner Heinrich' is out of the question on account of its length. So is his last great novel 'Martin Salander,' and I myself would not care to take any of the beautiful stories out of their proper setting in that most remarkable work ‘Das Sinngedicht.' Omitting all these, we still have the two volumes of Novellen issued under the title 'Die Leute von Selduyla,' the collection of Züricher Novellen,' and 'Sieben Legenden.'
Six of the Legenden are available for class use, the seventh being omitted for obvious reasons, its theme being wholly unsuited to mixed classes of immature students. Of the Züricher Novellen one is edited, Das Fähnlein der Sieben Aufrechten. Of the delightful group gathered together under the title ‘Die Leute von Seldwyla' quite a number are prepared for schools, namely: Kleider Machen Leute, Dietegen, Die Drei Gerechten Kammacher, Frau Regel Amrain und Ihr Jüngster, and Romeo und Julia auf dem Dorfe.
Most of these are somewhat difficult, and can find no proper place early in the course. An exception must be made of the Legenden. They are rather simple, direct, beautiful narratives, and hold the student's interest. The supernatural element, the intervention of the Virgin Mary at some critical moment, as a substitute for the heroine, is introduced with great skill, and the religious is always completely subordinated to the artistic. One of them, Die Jungfrau und die Nonne, is typical. The nun grows weary of her convent life, not because of a dislike for its duties, but because a glance over the walls into the fair world outside awakens a yearning for the fulness of life. She deserts her post. The Virgin assumes her office, her form, and garb, so that her companions do not miss her. Outside the convent a knight in full armor comes riding along. She falls in love with him, becomes his wife, and bears him eight sons. After years of this socalled worldly life, the memory of her claustral life, broken vows, and deserted duty, comes over her with such power that she returns. The Virgin greets her mildly with the words, 'You were gone rather long, my daughter,' restores her office, form, and garb, and no one knows of her adventure, which all would have condemned most harshly. At last a great festival is planned, and all prepare to lay their gifts upon the great altar, save Beatrix, the returned nun, who can make no gift. On the day of the festival, however, the convent is roused by a flourish of trumpets without the walls. An old knight, followed by eight young knights, his sons, are on their way to the Holy Land to rescue the tomb of Christ from the hands of the Infidel. Beatrix recognizes them as her husband and sons, confesses to her
sister nuns the secret adventure, and they all acknowledge that she has brought the greatest gift of all to the altar.
This is typical of the group. They are the work of an artist, not an ascetic or preacher. They are unusually wholesome and humane. Among the others Eugenia deserves mention for its beautiful love-story in Keller's very best manner, and Das Tanzlegendchen for its hint of a higher ideal than that of classic art or christian asceticism. When the nine Muses (who have been permitted an entrance occasionally) sing at the great festival in heaven, the angels weep with yearning, and a great sigh sweeps through heaven, and even the elders and prophets lose their self-control from memories of the beautiful green earth, and at last the Holy Trinity himself has to come to their rescue and drive the disturbing chorus out of the celestial paradise.
But after all these do not represent the genuine Keller. The true Keller is that of the Novellen. He is a successor of Auerbach, but vastly his superior in every respect.
Auerbach has such a penchant for preaching, that he can't paint us a picture or tell us a tale, without placarding the one with moral mottoes and punctuating the other with complacent reflections upon the virtues and vices of the characters. Keller paints us a picture, and lets his characters live before us. Moreover he was a much better and keener and less biassed observer of men than Auerbach. Auerbach's persons are partly embodied ethical formulæ endowed with the powers of speech. Keller's are types of human life with full flesh and blood reality.
The contrast between Auerbach and Keller is that between good and bad art. One has a Tendenz, the other is a Tendenz. This is a vital distinction, and must be considered in connection with any literature selected for its culture value for school classes.
There is a conflict which is likely to recur in the future as it has occurred in the past. It has usually divided literary critics, and more ordinary readers, into two esthetic camps. The one has for its motto ‘art for art's sake,' and will have nothing to do with moral values in literature; the other insists that ‘all great art is moral' and demands 'Tendenz' literature as the highest form. The former are still willing to sacrifice content, or tolerate vicious or seductive content, if the form and treatment are esthetically perfect. The latter ignore form in favor of preachment and are likely to tolerate the employment of artistic forms for the sole purpose of making propaganda for some cause.
The simple distinction made above will obviate this whole conflict. True art is Tendenz but has none. The function of art in the moral sphere is not direct, but indirect, and therefore more powerful. Art creates a picture of some interesting section of life, which is of a nature to appeal to the imagination and feelings of men. Art has a prerogative over nature in this field. Nature can show us life only piecemeal, interrupted, important