PRIEST OF KIRCHFELD, The. The folkplay in Viennese dialect, 'Der Pfarrer von Kirchfeld,' produced 5 Nov. 1870, in Vienna, is Anzengruber's most popular drama even if in the opinion of the critics it is not his best. It raised a struggling unknown author to fame, partly because of its freshness and inherent excellence, but more because it voiced popular feelings in regard to the celibacy of the clergy, mixed unions, enforced civil marriage and the relation of church and state as affected by the declaration of papal infallibility in 1870.
The scene is laid just outside of Austria in the most conservative portion of Old Bivaria among a simple peasantry °whose passions, ex pressed without reservation or but clumsily con cealed" were a novel revelation of human nature to theatregoers. Priest Hell and his feudal ad versary, Count Finsterberg, reveal by their very names the nature of the conflict' which is pre cipitated by Hell's innocent gift uf a little gold cross to his ward, the orphaned, penniless Annerl. This gives the vagabond Wurzelsepp an opportunity to ruin the Priest with his parish as an expression of hatred caused by ecclesiastical prevention of his union to a Lu theran girl 20 years before. In the best scene of the play Hell converts and wins the friendship of this enemy when mother the burial of Wurzelsepp's suicide in con sedrated ground. But this employment of his
own judgment against the law of the Church loses for him his parish.
Though a member of the militant and regnant" he had sought like the 'Monk of Wittenberg' for a way short of the requirement to inquire I do it, just as I mean it?", a way which makes men °indifferent or apos tate.) Herein lies a part of the tragedy of his position. However, he becomes no champion of the aAway from Rome" movement, which later gained such strength. He conquers self, and submits. More tragic, almost to the point of suicide, is his love for Annerl, who also learns resignation like all Austrians, by giving hand and allegiance to the peasant, Michel. It is this soul conflict, more than its politico religious purpose, which makes the play great. First produced in the Folktheatre °an der Wien,' it gradually found its way over all Ger man-speaking lands, being played 632 times be tween 1899 and 1905. Text Vol. VI of Gesam melte Werke (1898). Criticism Sigismund Friedmann, 'Ludwig Anzengruben' (Leipzig 1902).