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LIFE AND LETTERS TO-DAY
another are of primordial origin, bevond history and time, and that the
present, which many consider the end, may with good reason be considered
a beginnin,g of a new beginning, a pause before re-creation. Sothethought
symphony of Broch, the novel of“ The Sleep-walkers, ends with this
optimistic vision, on an intellectual foundation: And though we may
be surrounded bythe increasing silence of the abstract, and man, a prey
to coldest necessity, be flung into oblivionit is the breath of the
Absolute sweeping across the world, and from our sensing and feeling
of the truth, the solemn certainty of the knowledge is born, that each
one of us carries the divine spark in his soul and that the unitv of all is
indestructible, indestructible the brotherhood of humbled mankind,..5
and from out the greatest darkness of the world, from out our greatest and
bitterest darkness, the voice is heard which unites the present with the
future and it is not the voice of terror and judgement, faintly it is
heard amid the silence of the Logos, and yet borne and borne upwards
byit, through the noise of the non-existent; it is the voice of man and the
peoples of man, the voice of comfort and hope and loving kindness: Do
no harm to yourself, for we are all still here.
It can be readily understood that in his following works, Broch has not
got beyond this interpretation of our time, for it represents the sum-total
of his insight (so far), and whatever may follow, as possibly new perceptions
of the conflict of forces, must presumably proceed from the Decay of
Values For this reason the next novel of Broch:" Die unbekannte

Grösse The Unknown Quantity'’), in spite of its great inner breadth,
is felt to be merely a supplementary contribution, at most a rectifying
contribution to his work. In this Unknown Quantity his previous
perceptions are tested on the example of an individual present-day family.
In the foreground stands a young scientist (a mathematician and astrono¬
mer) who in his science as well as in his life encounters the unknown
quantity, from which there is no escape and which finally wrecks his
life calculation: his brother kills himself, without being understood by
him, his mother and two sisters live with him in constant strife, and thus
he fails to see life when it is breathing warmly beside him. So unknown
to him up to the decisive moment is the voice of the heart, the voice of
comfort and hope and unselfish kindness. A sweet-sombre melody.
This melody is also heard in Broch’s poems. In“ The Sleep-walkers also
he breaks inevitably into a rhythmic hymn-like prose where emotion can
only find expression in music. The clear passion of Broch has, however,
also found expression in independent poems. And the same melody is
also heard in his drama of three acts and an epilogue“ Die Entsühnung
(" The Atonement??) In this dramatic cross-section of our time
Broch shows us, as in Huguenau, consecutivelv and simultaneously
the battle of conflicting forces—destructive, selfish, brutal. But in the
epilogue the mothers of all these lascivious, ugly, murderous people stand