The Encyclopedia Americana (1920)/Viebig, Clara
VIEBIG, fē'bĭk, Clara, German novelist and writer of short stories: b. Trèves, 17 July 1860. When she was nine years old, her father, a Prussian oberregierungsrat, was transferred and the family went with him to his new post at Düsseldorf, where her girlhood was spent; but she frequently returned to the Moselle scenery at Trèves and in the environment, in which she took many tramps. Her father died when she was hardly of age and she was sent to live on the estate of some relatives in Posen. She went to Berlin to study music, but instead found that the stimulus of the great city, in addition to the landscapes she had already seen, was beginning to destine her for a literary career, on which she embarked in 1894. After marrying the publisher, Fritz Th. Cohn (a partner in the firm of Fontane and Company, later of Egon Fleischel and Company), she lived most of the time in Berlin and its suburbs (Schöneberg, Zehlendorf). In Germany she is the most popular of the representatives of the Zola school of naturalistic novelists and is particularly able in the powerful description of atmosphere and environment. Her delineation of sensual passion is excellent, when she is at her best, but she often descends to inartistic and careless production, reminding us sometimes of the backstairs novel. Her language is serious and unadorned and her treatment of her materials for the most part matter-of-fact and craftsmanlike. While her subjects are faced boldly and completely, she is sometimes governed more by the desire to produce what the market requires than what an inner urge would dictate. None of her works has so completely caught the spirit of the times as her novel of Berlin servant life, ‘Das tägliche Brot’ (1901). She has also written dramas, which have met with little success. Other works are ‘Kinder der Eifel’ (1897); ‘Das Weiberdorf’ (1900); ‘Die Wacht am Rhein’ (1902); ‘Des schlafende Heer’ (1904); ‘Einer Mutter Sohn’ (1907); ‘Das Kreuz im Venn’ (1908); ‘Das letzte Glück’ (1909); ‘Die vor den Toren’ (1910); ‘Das Eisen im Feuer’ (1913). Consult ‘Ausgewählte Werke’ (6 vols., Berlin 1911); ‘Burning Love’ is the title of a short story in English translation in ‘German Classics’ (Vol. XIX, New York 1914); also Werner, Richard M., ‘Vollendete und Ringende’ (Minden 1910).