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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


Between August 1904 and March, 1905, seven poems by an author named 'Fanny Essler' appeared in the weekly literary magazine Die Freistatt. In a letter to André Gide, Felix Paul Greve claimed authorship of these poems by identifying himself with the pseudonym which is identical with the title of his first novel. The subject of the novel and the narrating persona of the poems was Greve's companion Else, then separated from his friend August Endell & Greve's wife after August 1907. She would later acquire fame & notoriety in New York as the avant-garde artist Baroness von Freytag-Loringhoven. Greve is better known today in his second, post-1912 identity as the Canadian author Frederick Philip Grove.

Freytag-Loringhoven's archives at the University of Maryland [1] contain not only Else's autobiography which was written in English from Berlin in the early 1920s, and provides a mirror-image of Greve's two novels about Else, Fanny Essler (1905) and Maurermeister Ihles Haus (1906). There are also a considerable number of German poems.

Several of these are inspired by the decade Else lived with Greve/Grove, and two are directly related to the Fanny Essler complex to be explored here: one echoes Fanny Essler's last poem, and another combines elements of her central three sonnets with the impetuous Fall theme of Greve's "Erster Sturm" in Die Schaubühne, 1907. This poem must have held particular importance for Grove, since it also exists in his archives at the University of Manitoba & since he translated it himself as "The Dying Year."[2] Furthermore, Else describes in her autobiography how she felt an imperative need for poetic expression precisely on the three occasions which provide the setting for the seven 'Fanny Essler' poems: when she dreamt about Greve on the Frisian island Föhr before they became lovers at Christmas 1902 (Ab 30), when she missed him in Palermo in May 1903, after he was unexpectedly sentenced for fraud in Bonn (Ab 92), and finally, when she was in Rome on her way to meet him upon his release in June 1904 (Ab 195).

Obvious questions arise from this evidence: to what extent were the 'Fanny Essler' publications in poetry & prose really Greve's? What was Else's role in their creation? And, since a collaborative effort seems indicated, what was the nature of their collaboration?

A fair amount of digression is unavoidable in the effort to unravel the multi-layered intertextual and biographical ramifications of the astounding Fanny Essler story which pertain to German, Canadian and American literature on the one hand, and to interdisciplinary concerns regarding authorship, the creative process, the use of pseudonyms, genre issues, art history and feminism on the other.

A panoramic overview of the scandalous pair's respective lives and works precedes the textual analysis of the 1904/5 'Fanny Essler' poems. Plausible answers to the questions concerning their genesis will emerge from this detailed investigation, and in conclusion, the mutual reflections in Else's and Grove's later writings will be explored.


[1] There are five large archival boxes in the University of Maryland, College Park, Collections. They were originally part of the Djuna Barnes collection. For a vast microfilming project in 2001, they were completely reorganized, so that the following information may not be entirely accurate anymore. For a browseable description of the entire contents, see the EAD Finding at

When I researched the collection in the 1990s, Box 4 contained Else's German poetry, Box 1 her autobiography in typescript and manuscript. A copy of both autobiographical documents has been available at the University of Manitoba since April 1992, several months before Spettigue's & Hjartarson's Baroness Elsa was published. They were exchanged for a microfilm of the 1905 Fanny Essler novel held in the UMA Spettigue Collection. Professors Spettigue & Hjartarson published FrL's autobiography from the manuscript version, along with a selection of Else's correspondence, without addressing the complex source situation: parts three and four are largely redundant in content, but have a quite different structure.

All references in this paper, cited as "Ab," are to the typescript (205 p.) which is overall a reliable reproduction of the first three ms. parts.

[2] The Grove Collection (21 boxes) was donated by the author's widow in the early sixties, and contains much unpublished material. A Register was published in 1979, &, though available online, is in need of major revisions. Most of Grove's poetry is in Box 18. The Spettigue, Stobie and Divay research collections (1986, 1976, 1990-) provide important source documents related to both Greve and Grove.
Originally published:
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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