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box 38/3
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LIFE AND LETTERS TO-DAY
is only waiting to break in upon them. That also is the theme of the
second volume. August Esch, a clerk, takes on a fight against the world,
which has done him the wrong of depriving him of his work. But while
the Pasenows could no longer adapt themselves to the new times, because
their movements are too restricted, the citizen of rood with his own ideology
appears to be able to get along better. The life of the ambitious, upwards¬
striving Esch, whose fate appears outwardly in no way related to that of
the Pasenows, is nevertheless closely connected with it: a case of polaric
fates. The confrontation of Esch with Pasenow’s friend, as it occurs
towards the end of the volume, is felt to be unessential: we should have
understood the antithesis even without this clarity, unobtrusive though
it be.
The fate of the Pasenows, and also that of Esch, is only fulfilled in the
third volume of the series: “ Huguenau oder die Sachlichkeit —#or8'
("Huguenau or Objectivity—1o18 *). The other two, Pasenow and Esch,
are here confronted with a third man: the unscrupulous,“ objective?
man of 1018, a deserter who succeeds not only in evading the war, but
also the restraints and obstacles and difficulties beloved of the former
romantically-minded or anarchically-minded world. The ensuing fight
between “ objectivity?' and feeling, between moral insanity and moral
consciousness, between business sense and romanticism, naturally leads
to many more contrasts than hitherto came into play, and a number
of different characters had therefore to be introduced to illustrate the
opposing tendencies and ideas and avoid too artificial and incomprehensive
a delineation of our times. That is to say: the theme of the novel required
an appropriate form.
The form of Broch’s novels is indeed a matter of particular interest.
Although the three volumes of“ The Sleep-walkers? form a unified
whole, both in content and ideas and were doubtless written according to a
preconceived plan, each one has a different character. Each volume is
written in a style which is proper to that volume only. The first novel
(" Pasenow or Romanticism*) is in truth a book of the year 1888, as,
according to its sub-title, it professes to be: its diction and whole mental
attitude remind one of the novels of Theodor Fontane, a Berlin author
who lived at the specified time, wrote contemporarv novels and is known
to everv educated German reader. The least distinctly indicative of content
is the form of the second novel; but this deals with a world between two
worlds, which had not produced a style of its own. The third novel,
however (“ Huguenau or Objectivity'’), the novel of the year 1018,
that is to say, without too strict adherence to the date, the novel of our
time, must be considered a notable attempt to find a modern form for a
new content. At first sight it may perhaps appear to be a playful attempt
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épater les bourgeois. Such a suspicion, however, soon disappears;
and here one may refute another, which accuses Broch of copying foreign
patterns. It is true that Broch was a frequent and admiring reader of
Joyce and learned many a valuable lesson from him. But the forms which
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