Die Künstlerproblematik im Naturalismus dargestellt an Papa Hamlet von Arno Holz und Johannes Schlaf

Master Thesis


Permanent link to this Item
Journal Title
Link to Journal
Journal ISSN
Volume Title

University of Cape Town

The problem of artistic endeavour and recognition of creative imaginative writing at a time of revolutionary scientific and industrial activity, brings into focus the re-evaluation of the artist during intense economic development. The intellectual crisis of the artist in Germany, 1870-1895, is strongly influenced by the emphasis on financial success and scientific observation. This emphasis is linked to the new aesthetic and artistic expectations, which are influenced by the political and social reality of the industrial age. Naturalism is characterised by an abundance of theoretical literature; Arno Holz is regarded as the greatest of the theorists and his work Papa Hamlet, written together with Johannes Schlaf, is an attempt to combine theoretical consideratiohs with the "new" art. This thesis critically examines Papa Hamlet against the background of social, political and economic change. The investigation into four major areas includes firstly the intellectual crisis in relation to the "Grunderzeit"; the sentimental art of this period is strongly rejected as it in no way reflects the reality of the industrial age. It is vitally important for the artists to be seen as modern, reflecting the truth of the age in which they write. This truth requires the work of art to be as close a reproduction of nature, of real life, as possible. Attention to detail becomes vital and leads Arno Holz to the "Sekundenstil." Secondly, this thesis confronts Papa Hamlet with theoretical background as defined by Arno Holz. Thirdly the attempt made by Holz and Schlaf not to interfere as authors between the piece of prose and the reader, leads to the question of prose versus drama. The investigation leads also into the problem of the lower middle class artist who is confronted by economic difficulties and finds himself threatened by the working class. Thienwiebel's perseverance as "Hamlet", symbolic of an art no longer acceptable, brings a discussion on the traditional German "Bildungsroman". Finally, Arno Holz maintains that Art can only be revolutionised if language is revolutionised; these claims are examined in Papa Hamlet. It is my contention that the artist's claim of being democratic is strongly to be questioned as Papa Hamlet can only be really appreciated by readers who have studied Hamlet by Shakespeare. The greatest achievement by the Naturalists lies in questioning existing values; scientific observation and creative spirit. The Art of Arno Holz, in particular the "Sekundenstil", may be seen to be the· forerunner of Expressionism, Surrealism and Dadaism.

Bibliography: pages 226-230.