Ivan Gaul characterizes expressionism as a "fist of the impotent, furiously threatening the heavens" (1921). Magazine Weissen bletter (1913), in his own way, determined the features of expressionism: "Concentration, contraction, indomitable pressure, tightly beaten form, pathos of expression of the nervous mood - these are the characteristic features in which his true nature is manifested." This disharmony, dissonance, broken lines, riot of contrasting and dissonant colors, deliberate appeal to the primitive, tension and apocalyptic dramatism can be added to this correct characteristic.
Reliance on tradition
German expressionism was in the field of exposure to German Gothic and Rococo with their emotional tension and irrationalism, in the field of the influence of the art of Grünewald, Dürer, Weifeld, Holzinger.
German Expressionists of the "Bridge" group. They relied on the traditions of Rimbaud, Nietzsche, Dostoevsky and on the theory of "primary drives" Freud. In painting, their predecessors were E. Munch and V. Van Gogh.
Wilhelm Vorringer in the magazine "Sturm" (August 1911) argues that the expressionists are the heirs of Cezanne, Van Gogh and Matisse, that is, the post-impressionists - artists who overcame impressionism.
Expressionism relied on certain philosophical traditions - on the ideas of Nietzsche and Bergson, who embodied in this artistic direction in his orientation to the primary sources of vitality. Nietzsche's enthusiasm among the expressionists was almost universal.
The new hero and the masses
At the turn of the century a new hero of history arose - a man of mass and expressionism paid him his due and introduced him into art. Inclusion of the masses in the creation of history - this is at the same time a profound change in the person and his place in the world. In the works of J. Entor, E. Munch, E. Kirchner, artists of the group "Bridge" the city crowd appears as a variety and even a cacophony of colors, like the gignole of poses and grotesque gestures, like the horror of dead tragic masks, like the arrival of a boor.
Expressionists did not seek to capture any phenomenon, but tried to recreate the appearance of the era, draw an image of humanity. Therefore, they rejected the likelihood. The hero of expressionism is a person at the moment of the highest tension, her sadness becomes depression, despair turns into hysteria.
Types of artExpressionism has manifested itself in various forms of art: M. Chagall, O. Kokoshka, E. Kirchner, E. Munch - in painting, A. Rembo, A. Yu. Strindberg, RM Rilke, E. Toller, F. Kafka - in the literature, I. Stravinsky, B. Bartók, A. Schönberg - in music. Expressionism, according to Ivan Gaul's description (1921), is a state of mind that has spread like an epidemic to all kinds of intellectual activity: not only poetry, but also prose, not only painting, but also architecture and theater, music and science, university education and secondary school reform. "
Paul Hatvani writes: "Let the prose become an abstraction." What's important is not what she wants to say, but the very fact that she says it. She must say herself the most. "
The largest representative of expressionism in the literature is Franz Kafka (1883-1924). He is convinced: a person lives in a hostile world, his essential forces are alienated in opposing institutions, the pursuit of happiness is impracticable. Kafka has no optimistic perspective for the person. However, he seeks to find something stable and unchanging: "indestructible", "light" (the terms belong to Kafka himself).
Kafka is a poet of chaos. The world seems to him terrible, frightening. Kafka was frightened of the world, when mankind already possessed the immense forces of nature. But his fright and confusion had his own reason, since people were not powerful over their relations. They fought and exterminated each other, oppressed and robbed each other of happiness. Kafka is separated from the era of myths thirty-five centuries of civilization. Myths of Kafka are myths of the 20th century, they are full of horror, despair, hopelessness: the destiny of personality does not belong to it, but to that which was abstracted, it separated from man, which became an otherworldly power for him. Man is a social being and can not be otherwise, but the social organization of his being dominates him and perverts his essence. For Kafka, the chaos of the world is stronger than man. Light muted, but it still pierces the thickness of darkness that has engulfed the world. Even dying in all-world chaos, the man "Kafka must be considered," writes the West German literary critic G. Pongs, "not as an end or a beginning, but as a transition: he passes on the tasks of the artist to the writers of the next generation".
This idea is trivial and can be attributed to any major figure in the artistic process. It is important, from whom to whom this writer makes a transition. Kafka - link in the chain Dostoevsky - Kafka - Camus. For Dostoevsky light was the ability of a person to endure suffering, remaining a man, not being destroyed even in a cruel world, the ability in his suffering to notice people and sympathize with their troubles. Kafka light loses certainty, dims, because the darkness and disorder with its onslaught cover it. Kafka is a contemporary of the insanity of the First World War and post-war disasters. He is no longer sure that a person can stand.
Characteristic in this respect is the posthumously published novel "The Process" (1925), in which the author occupies the problem of bureaucratic forces alienated from the personality, capable of hanging a menacing cloud over a man.
The hero of the novel is a bank clerk Josef K., once waking up in the morning, learns that a lawsuit has been started against him. In the apartment of Josef K. the police are on duty. He is taken into custody. However, everything is so illogical and absurd that without guilt the guilty convict walks around the city, works in his institution and only at a certain time must appear in court. The court sits in the attic of some slums in the outlying, poor city district. The crime of the accused is not known to anyone. And although Josef K. knows that he is not guilty of anything, and although he can not understand what he is accused of, he always makes his way to the attic at the appointed time, in order to appear before the ignorant from where they came, the unknown on behalf of whom and it is unknown why the acting tribunal. An unknown force makes the hero carefully perform all these court rituals, get involved in polemics, try to prove his innocence. However, all efforts of Josef K. to defend themselves and to justify themselves are in vain.
The process ends with the condemnation of Joseph K. is unknown for what. Exhausted, he submits to a cruel and ridiculous sentence. Polite officials, neatly executing the role of executioners, kill Josef K. in some vacant lot. How terrible, ridiculous, illogical this story is! And as far as this "ordinary story" is!
No matter how illogical the events in Kafka's novel, they can each time find a match in life. Behind each, even the grotesquely improbable scene of the "Process" worth the reality.
According to the writer, the world is doomed, because the hostile reality destroys in man all human. Kafka "would have been an ordinary decadent if the skeptical and pessimistic ideas that prevailed in his mind were the product of cold speculation, the result of a cynically indifferent attitude toward life," the literary critic B. Suchkov wrote. "One of the most important reasons that Kafka's work did not die with him is not only the great impressive power of his visions, but also the sincerity of the tragic worldview characteristic of all his works, without exception."
Kafka was the first writer to realize the insecurity of a person from the social institutions that he created, but out of control: a person can suddenly fall under investigation, people with dark and incomprehensible powers ("Process") may be interested in them. ; a person can feel his lack of rights and all his life vainly seek permission to stay in this world ( Castle ). There is no optimistic outlook in the works of Kafka.
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