Other Literary Forms
In addition to plays, Carl Sternheim wrote a novel, several novellas, and a number of essays. A typical example of his fiction is the novella Busekow (1913), the prose style of which marks a transition from naturalism to a condensed expressionistic narrative technique. Sternheim deliberately omits insignificant details, highlighting in a woodcutlike fashion only the essential facts and events. This style shows a strong tendency toward abstraction, overstatement, and satiric exaggeration. The novella Meta (1916) is written in similar fashion. In it, Sternheim traces the psychological development of a maid who loses her sweetheart in the war and spends the rest of her life trying to compensate in various ways for the loss. The essay Gauguin und van Gogh (1924) and the novella Heidenstam (1918) are of particular significance, because Sternheim uses them to discuss the central issue of expressionist aesthetics: the attempt to penetrate beneath the surface of the "appearance” of reality toward its true “essence.” The expressionist artist attempts to tear off the “mask” of reality as it appears to sensory perception to reach the true being of things (das Wesen).