chapter  Chapter Eleven
20 Pages

Chaos and Control

WithS. S. Prawer

The Munich poets had tended to see themselves as heirs of Platen, as preservers of form in a formless age: and they made it easy to suspect, as so many subsequent critics have done, any strict cult of form of hiding emptiness. Platen himself fell into disrepute, as though the sins of the children were to be visited on the fathers. It is therefore fortunate that a legitimate heir now appears on the scene, who—though he did not rout these bastard Platenides at the time—at least justifies Platen and his endeavours to posterity. That heir was Conrad Ferdinand Meyer 192(1825-98). Meyer, like his great predecessor, stemmed from an old aristocratic family (a family, in this case, of Swiss patricians) ; he too felt, with some justice, physically abnormal and degenerate; he too sought to distance emotion and to conquer the chaos of grief by the severest emphasis on form.