Who wrote a flowing brook of horror

Heym, Georg

  • genealogy

    V Hermann (1850–1920), Prussian. Public Prosecutor, 1900 Attorney at the Reich Military Court, S e. Oberamtmanns and Gutsbes. in Podelzig;
    M Jenny Taistrzik (1850-1923); single.

  • Life

    As a civil servant child, H. attended many schools: Gnesen, Posen, Berlin (1900–05 Joachimsthalsches Gymnasium) and Neuruppin, where he graduated from high school in 1907. The diary, which has been kept since 1904, gives a good insight into all the difficulties a young person around 1900 could have with school. The extensive knowledge of history and ancient mythology imparted there, of course, later benefited the poet. The relationship with the father was changing. The somewhat dry lawyer had to help the student again and again, the student - from 1907 H. had been extremely reluctant to study law in Würzburg, Jena and Berlin - he could hardly understand any more. Like the softer, somewhat sentimental mother, he stood helplessly in the face of his son's poems. H.'s now famous insults of the father in the diary come from the last few years. Like similar outbursts of that generation, they are not just criticism, but attempts to break radically with tradition. In 1911 H. completed his studies with the trainee examination. A doctorate in Rostock, mentioned again and again in the literature, has not yet been proven. The unsatisfactory law degree was followed by an angrily hated internship. After a few months of service at various courts, H. took a leave of absence. He was not sure about his career plans. He wanted to be a diplomat or an officer. So he started studying at the seminar for oriental languages ​​in Berlin and learned Chinese, but at the same time he went to some regiments to introduce himself. Then he drowned while ice-skating in the Havel when he wanted to save his broken-in friend, the poet → Ernst Balcke (1887–1912, see works, literature).

    The development of H. can be followed like that of hardly any poet of Expressionism. Very soon he wrote poetry without actually being precocious. The 18-year-old, almost consumed by the addiction to fame, began to write dramas that are based on the historical piece of the 19th century and the Renaissance cult of the neo-romanticism and are influenced by Grabbe, Büchner and Kleist. Three completed pieces and 17 fragments, some of them extensive, have been preserved. From these countless verses H. learned to master the iambus safely, but he did not become a playwright. In the spring of 1910, when there was nothing more formal for him to learn, he joined the “New Club” in Berlin, a loose association of young people. The oldest, most active and most mature among them was Kurt Hiller, the most poetically significant Jakob van Hoddis, then there were → Erwin Loewenson (1888–1963), the loyal administrator of the estate, Simon Ghuttmann, → Robert Jentzsch (1890–1918) and → David Baumgart (1890-1963). These friends opened up a new world for H. Now the big city appears in his poem. The criticism of the time grows sharper, especially in the diary it takes on an aggressive, often rude tone. In living with these young, brilliant and ruthless advocates of a new spirituality, H. found his own style. His prose works, almost all of which date from this period, are significant evidence of early Expressionism. The strict, closed form of the novella is sought again. H. found suggestions for this in the neo-romanticists, from whom he also adopted the preference for exotic and eerie topics and for extreme types as heroes. But he goes beyond his role models. The gruesome is no longer savored with pleasure, but stands as a symbol for the absurdity of existence. The often grotesque tension between the ornamentally flowing style and the ghostly situation increases this impression. At the same time, however, the dry staccato of the later Expressionist prose is already heralded.

    H.'s greatest achievement is his poetry. He soon finds the topics that will always fascinate him: death, or rather the dead, the big city, people in borderline situations as prisoners, as madmen, as beggars or as the plaything of history. Influenced by Baudelaire and Rimbaud, H. builds up his iambic stanzas in pompous images of horror. The vital force and clarity of language distinguish him from his neo-romantic contemporaries. His poems are not painstakingly assembled orgies of horror, they are real visions. In addition to these poems, which most impressed his contemporaries, there are landscapes of great forcefulness and, above all, poems that deal with historical subjects. Two essential traits of later Expressionist poetry can already be found here: the deheroization of large figures and the conception of history as an anonymous power that breaks people apart regardless of their worth. Towards the end of 1911 - H. had created an almost unbelievable wealth of poems in the two years of his mature poetry - there were signs of a new change. The pomp of the pictures subsides, the expression becomes simpler and cooler. The world that strikes us eerily from these poems is populated by marionettes that are guided by invisible threads by a grotesque power. Instead of the surging flood of images, there are now short, sometimes chopped up verses. The long iambic line with its often splendid rhymes is replaced by freer rhythms.

    H. was never actually a school educator. Even so, he has exerted significant influence. Brecht learned a lot from him. The poets of the new objectivity and the natural poem also received suggestions from him. His last poems anticipated surrealism in many ways.

  • Works

    The Athens exit, tragedy in 1 act, 1907;
    The Eternal Day, Poems, 1911;
    Umbra vitae, Postponed Poems, 1912;
    The Thief, A Novella Book, 1913;
    Marathon, 12 Sonnets, 1914;
    Seals, worried v. K. Pinthus and E. Loewenson, 1922;
    Ges. Poems with e. Darst. See life and death, ed. C. Seelig, 1947 (with | Bibliography by H. Ellermann and H. Bolliger);
    Seals and Schrr., Complete Edition, edited by K. L. Schneider, I: Poetry, 1964, II: Prose and Drama, 1962, III: Diaries, Dreams, Letters, 1960, IV and V: Erll. and readings (W, L), in preparation, - VI: Documents, 1968 (P). - On E. Balcke: Poems, 1913.

  • literature

    H. Greulich, G. H., Life and Work, Ein Btr.z.Fühgesch. d. German Expressionism, 1931;
    Eberh. Schulz, The Problem d. People b. G. H., Diss. Kiel 1953 (unedited);
    K. L. Schneider, The pictorial expression in d. Poems by G. H.s, Georg Trakls and Ernst Stadler, 1954;
    ders., Broken Forms, Word and Image in Expressionism, 1967, esp. pp. 61-85, 87-108, 109-33;
    K. Mautz, Mythol. and Ges. im Expressionismus, Die Dichtung G. H.s, 1961;
    E. Loewenson, G. H.od. From the spirit d. Fate, 1962;
    G. Martens, Umbra Vitae and The Sky Tragedy, The First Coll. d. Posthumous poems by G. H.s, in: Euphorion 59, 1965;
    E. Krispyn, G.H., A reluctant rebel, 1968;
    R. E. Brown, G. H., Poems 1910-12, 1970;
    Soergel II (P);
    Eppelsheimer I-IX;
    Kunisch. - On E. Balcke: G. H., Dichtungen u. Schrr. VI, 1968, pp. 439-54 (P).

  • Portraits

    Phot. in seals and Schrr. VI, see W;
    Etching v. E. L. Kirchner, 1923, ill.bd .;
    Pastel v. E. M. Engert, 1912, illus.

  • Author

    Walter Schmähling
  • Recommended citation style

    Schmähling, Walter, "Heym, Georg" in: Neue Deutsche Biographie 9 (1972), pp. 85-87 [online version]; URL: https://www.deutsche-biographie.de/pnd118550683.html#ndbcontent