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Article about
FrL & FPG's 1904/5 'Fanny Essler' Complex (Seven Poems & One Novel)
How to cite this 2005 e-Article

Else von Freytag-Loringhoven & Felix Paul Greve

Felix Paul Greve's & Else von Freytag-Loringhoven's
1904/5 'Fanny Essler' Poems: His or Hers?
Revised e-Edition in Ten Parts
by Gaby Divay, University of Manitoba Archives, ©25Mar2005

Introduction to the 2005 e-Edition

1. FPG's 1993 poetry edition from the Greve/Grove Collections at the University of Manitoba Archives,
including the seven 'Fanny Essler's' poems

2. Discovery in May 1990, following a lead in Gide's "Conversation" (BAAG, Oct. 1976; e-Ed., 2001)

3. 'Fanny Essler' in 1904/5 : Else's Content, Greve's Form in Poetry & Prose

4. Discovery in the University of Maryland Collections, April 1991:
FPG's use of Sparta, Ky, & Else's use of the 'Fanny Essler' Sonnets in her Poem "Schalk"

Else's Poem "Du" in an early, traditional version corresponds to Fanny Essler's last poem

5. Else's Poem "Wolkzug" refers to Palermo & a contains a biographical comment about 1903 & 1911

6. New Information to be integrated in this Revised Electronic Article

7. Significance of Else's & FPG's respective creative legacies


When I wrote the original Arachne article some ten years ago, I had just finished publishing the FPG poetry edition from the University of Manitoba's archival collections [see 1993 Cover/Back]. This edition included: all of Felix Paul Greve's known poems from 1902 to 1909, several of which I had found in the Stefan-George-Archiv in Stuttgart in May 1990; six German poems by Grove, three each in the Grove Collection & in the Spettigue Collection. Two of the former three, "The Dying Year" & "Arctic Woods", he had also translated into English. "The Dying Year" had furthermore been published by Greve in 1907 as "Erster Sturm", thus providing the strongest literary evidence for the FPG identity discovered by D. O. Spettigue in October 1971. Frederick Philip Grove's largely unpublished lyrical & narrative poetry made up the remainder of the edition. The 'Fanny Essler' poems were part of the first section, & could already then be duly illustrated with the two corresponding Else von Freytag-Loringhoven poems found in April 1991 in the University of Maryland Collections, "Du" and "Schalk".

Following up on a precise pointer to the 'Fanny Essler' plans in Greve's letter to Gide on October 17, 1904, I found the poems in Die Freistatt in early May 1990 while researching in the Deutsche Literatur-Archiv in Marbach. In the same week, I also discovered the seven mss poems Greve had submitted to the Blätter für die Kunst as well as his translation of six sonnets in Dante's Vita Nuova in the Stefan-George-Archiv in Stuttgart. Only two institutions listed in reference tools are holding complete runs of the journal Die Freistatt: in Marbach, I located the three instalments of the poetry cycle and copied all seven poems in longhand, at the Bayrische Staatsbibliothek in Munich I later obtained photocopies.
Not all of the Freistatt volumes I consulted included an index. For the journal's last volume of 1905, for instance, I had to go through weekly individual issues, one by one, to find the final contribution by 'Fanny Essler', which fortunately appeared in late March.
The three instalments were published as follows:
    - Heft 35 of volume 6 appeared in August 1904 & contained the first two narrative poems in which the fictitious author thinks about her absent lover in the southern setting of "Tunis" -- this dates & locates the inspirational background to post-May 1903 Palermo, where Greve abruptly left Else Ploetz, married & eloped Endell, behind for a brief trip to Bonn. There, he was arrested, tried and sentenced to a one year prison term for having defrauded a friend.
    - Heft 42 of October 1904 contained the central three Petrarchan sonnets idolizing the absent lover in not entirely uncritical terms -- the brutal hands, the icy, blue eyes, & the lying mouth. This static & timeless centre-piece paints a "portrait" of Greve which was indeed to prove valid beyond all expectations up to the time when he left Else for good in "the wilderness" of Sparta, Kentucky, in 1911.
    - Heft 12 of volume 7 published the concluding two narrative poems in March 1905. Here, the poet dreams about her lover on the Frisian island Föhr, as Else Endell had dreamt of Greve while dwelling in Dr. Gmelin's sanatorium (built by her husband Endell in 1898) in October 1902.

It was obvious from the start that the seven "Fanny Essler' poems were the result of a collaborate effort by Else, whose experiences with Greve are the subject, and Greve who had claimed sole authorship in his revelations to Gide. But it was only a year later, when Gisi von Freitag-Loringhoven and I teamed up to search the five boxes containing Else's papers at the University of Maryland, College Park, that it became abundantly clear that Else had lent far more than her impressions & emotions to the 1904/5 poetry cycle and also to the Fanny Essler novel (1905) about her life in Berlin in the 1890s. Indeed, an abundance of biographical references to Greve/Grove and other contemporaries in Else's autobiography revealed that "Greve's" novel was an exact mirror-image of Else/Fanny Essler's reminiscences.
The typescript of the Baroness' autobiography was prepared by Djuna Barnes in the 1920s. In it, there are three explicit references to Else's early crafting of poetry. These correspond exactly to the the periods she describes in the narrative poems flanking the three central 'Fanny Essler' sonnets. This suggests that she herself wrote these poems, in one form or another, in the year Greve was in jail (1903/4). She also mentions that Greve's contribution to "his" novel about her life, Fanny Essler (1905), lay in providing "the conventional dress". Elsewhere, she describes how Greve appropriated a budding version of the "story of [her] childhood" which he then published as Maurermeister Ihles Haus in 1906.
Always astute in her critical judgement, Else denies Greve the artistic genius he liked to believe he had, & credits him with forming- and marketing talents instead. All this proves that the name "Fanny Essler" was a joint pseudonym for both parties, who applied a fairly neat division of labour along the form/content lines. However, Else contributed to the forming part as well, while Greve contributed nothing to the content.

The real extent of Else's contribution to the 1904/5 'Fanny Essler' creations is not only revealed in her autobiography or copious correspondence. More evidence can be found in the many poems she devoted to the memory of her lover & husband FPG in the University of Maryland Literary Archives Collections.
One of the many she dedicated to Greve makes the explicit and unique reference to "Sparta, Kentucky, am Eagle Creek" at the top of the page, thus pin-pointing the precise location of the couple's otherwise elusive American year. Just how accurately Greve/Grove was to use the infrastructure of this area in his rather nasty monument to Else as the depraved Clara Vogel in his first Canadian novel Settlers of the Marsh (1925) became fully apparent when I visited the area in 1994: Sparta is located some 80 miles southwest of Cincinnati, the novel's Manitoba setting lies ca. 120 km to the northwest of Winnipeg. Both distances were studded with railroad depots every five miles or so in 1910/11, and both regions are still boasting a meandering creek.
The same poem, entitled "Schalk", also matches elements of the original 'Fanny Essler' sonnets with great precision: it uses the three attributes of Greve's anatomy singled out in 1904/5 -- his cold eyes, his brutal hands, his lying lips -- and elaborates on this none too flattering "portrait" with further physical & moral attributes. It also appropriates parts from Greve's favourite poem "Erster Sturm" (1907), a nearly exact replica of which can be found in FPG (Greve/Grove)'s archival collection in Winnipeg, in both the original German and in Grove's own English translation.
A second poem by Freytag-Loringhoven was directly related to the 'Fanny Essler' poems: "Du" in one of its oldest, most traditional versions, matches the concluding, rondo-like winter poem describing the Frisian landscape of "Husum"/ Föhr in 1902.

Another German poem in Else's collection, "Wolkzug", makes reference to Palermo where Greve & Else spent a honeymoon of sorts from late January to May 1903. Beneath it, she wrote a revealing comment about Greve's fraud trial, and how he finally abandoned her in Sparta, Kentucky, barely a year after their rather rocky Pittsburg reunion in June 1910. Else states that he left her penniless & ignorant of the English language "in der Einöde" within a year, which points to some time in the late summer or early fall of 1911. The language impediment, at least, didn't have much of a hindering impact then, since the area in near-by Cincinnati, Ohio. was predominantly German-speaking until 1914.
About the circumstances surrounding Greve's 1903 arrest, Else states that it was due to the jealousy of his "Engländer" friend Herman Kilian & his unilateral, homosexual infatuation with Greve. There is no reason NOT to believe her opinion that Kilian's interest was one-sided, though it is not at all impossible that Greve exploited his rich friend's attentions. Grove would later appropriate this friend-turned-foe's entire Anglo-German family background for himself, and he even intended to use Kilian's maternal grandfather's real name, Andrew R. Rutherford, as a pseudonym for his first Canadian book publication Over Prairie Trails [1922], as well as for his unpublished typescript Jane Atkinson [ca. 1925]. Both Kilian's mother & his daughter were christened "Jane".
Both Freytag-Loringhoven's poems "Schalk" & "Wolkzug" were published for the first time in facsimile in FPG's poetry edition of 1993, as were the seven poems by 'Fanny Essler'. Greve's Dante sonnets were first published in Italian & German in a 1996 article about his first and last German translations. They can be dated to Greve's 1898 student days in Bonn, and document early mastery of the sonnet form used in October 1904 in "One Portrait: Three Sonnets". Freytag-Loringhoven's propensity to create "portraits" in words and in art may well have its roots in this Petrarchan tradition she practiced together with Greve.
It was the Maryland Freytag-Loringhoven evidence & its relation to the 'Fanny Essler' poems & novel that gave rise to the article under revision here. It is a pleasure to present the disparate, thoroughly comparative sources in question with the help of the new electronic media: jumping back & forth in textual reference to or visual illustration of this, that, or the other fact, part, or phrase is so much easier today than it was ten years ago, when one was tied up in the linear confines of traditional publication modes.

Much has happened in way of new discoveries concerning both parties of our scandalous pair. Apart from Irene Gammel's massive 2002 Freytag-Loringhoven biography, and Francis Naumann's concurrent exhibition, the first to be entirely devoted to the Baroness, it is perhaps Gisi von Freytag-Loringhoven's recent finding that the couple were indeed married in Berlin in August 1907. This is sensational, because it confirms that both partners became bigamists when they married respectively Leopold von Freytag-Loringhoven in November 1913 in New York, and Catherine "Tina" Wiens in Swift Current, Saskatchewan, in August 1914.
Somewhat longer ago, FPG's elusive passage to America was discovered shortly after the "In Memoriam FPG: 1879-1948-1998" in October 1998 by my astute research assistant, Bruce Thomson. Greve's departure in late July 1909 was unexpectedly early, since Else had sent a hysterical note about her husband's alleged suicide to Insel Publisher Anton Kippenberg nearly eight weeks later. This raises suspicions as to her motives for blaming Kippenberg for the reported tragedy: she likely took him up on his generous offer to help her financially. She may well have collected from other publishers in similar fashion until she had saved up enough money for her own passage from Rotterdam to New York ten months later.
Surprisingly, as a brief note in the New York Times of September 1910 makes abundantly clear, neither Else nor Greve found it necessary to keep a low profile after their reunion: she was arrested for wearing men's clothes and smoking in public. This also shows that the couple spent at least three months in Pittsburgh, rather than Else being whisked off into the isolated Kentucky "wilderness" at the earliest opportunity.

Else's poetry dedicated to FPG is often bitter. Yet, her brilliant use of their common 1904/5 poetry about him, enriched with many novel twists & turns, and spiked with satirical hints to Greve's beloved "Fall" poem "Erster Sturm" (1907), and its Nietzschean allegory of none other than Greve himself, demonstrates that she quickly surpassed the strict formal conventions championed by her early artistic "master". Indeed, though the precious aspects of the Stefan-George-school are noticeably tempered in Grove's English poetry, FPG never deviated an inch from the rules he had eagerly absorbed in his Munich days in 1901/2 for the rest of his life. For his many prose books, he showed an equally fixed attachment to the symbolic realism of his model Flaubert which he had embraced in 1903/4 while in Bonn prison at the expense of his previous idol, Oscar Wilde. Else's flair for avant-garde trends, and her playful transformations from traditionally crafted poems into expressionist or dadaist creations, stand in stark contrast to Greve/Grove's ossified aesthetics, which is why he is all but forgotten, while her star is shining bright & brighter in the world of art and literature.

Original Article:
Divay, Gaby. "Fanny Essler's Poems: Felix Paul Greve's or Else von Freytag-Loringhoven's?"
Arachne: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Language and Literature,
v. 1, no. 2 (1994), 165-197.

How to cite this e-Version:
Divay, Gaby. "Felix Paul Greve's & Else von Freytag-Loringhoven's 1904/5 'Fanny Essler' Poems: His or Hers?" e-Edition, ©March 2005 at

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