Fluss ohne Ufer

Excerpt from: Hans Henny Jahnn, “Fluß ohne Ufer. Roman in drei Teilen, 2.Teil: Die Niederschrift des Gustav Anias Horn nachdem er 49 Jahre alt geworden war,” (München: Willi Weismann Verlag 1959), 508

In his trilogy Fluss ohne Ufer (Shoreless River; 1949), Hans Henny Jahnn took up the ancient model of universal harmony. Thus, the protagonists of his novels make fluid transitions between experiences of music and of nature, and between sensations and discourse on art. After an intense experience of nature and the body that recalls Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s Les rêveries du promeneur solitaire (Reveries of the Solitary Walker; 1782), he is able to find his model in Le chant des oiseaux (Song of the Birds; 1528) by Clément Janequin and thus take up the birdsong tradition. Jahnn’s vitalistic and organicist worldview is evident in the fact that a shoal of fish in water is able to evoke for the protagonist the eternal law of eat or be eaten but not Claude Debussy’s thematic esthetic of surfaces in La mer (The Sea; 1905). Jahnn contemporizes universal concepts of the harmonia mundi (harmony of the spheres) and cosmological interpretations of the world since Plato and Aristotle. This trend is also carried forward by newer composers such as Olivier Messiaen and Arvo Pärt.