OF CONTENTS THE
GREVE/GIDE CONNECTION TITLE/MAIN
The prison term in
1903/4 seems to have turned Greve's life around.
Four days after his release, he went to Paris and
paid Gide a visit. The initial contact had been
by correspondence in December 1903. It was arranged
by Karl Vollmoeller whom Gide called affectionately "cher
of Vollmoeller's vacation home in Sorrento, Italy.
The reason for mediating an encounter was Greve's &
Gide's common interest in Oscar Wilde.
When they finally met,
their respective Wilde essays, and the life/art dichotomy
in Gide's L'Immoraliste, a book Greve was
translating at the time. Greve now demonstrated how
his outlook had changed within a year: he declared,
in a complete reversal of his former, decadent l'art-pour-l'art
ne suis pas un artiste. C'est le besoin d'argent
qui maintenant me fait écrire. L'oeuvre d'art
n'est pour moi qu'un pis-aller. Je préfère
la vie" (Gide,
1976, 34). In
other words, Life, particularly in its material
requirements, has from now on primary importance. Art has
been demoted to the secondary rank, and is seen as
a mere means for making a living.
translation efforts and a notable shift in genre
preference confirm that he practiced what he preached:
only three post-prison poems are known ("Hexe," "Erster
Stadt am Srande"), though more may await discovery.
He wrote two substantial novels about Else, announced
another one called Der
Sentimentalist (for Feb., 1906) which Stefan
George seems to have remembered in a conversation
with Edith Landmann some twelve years later, and
he worked on at least one satirical play, Der
heimliche Adel or Der Zahnadel (ca.
1906/7). He also published several critical essays.
All of this is in stark contrast with his former
aesthetist preferences with an almost obsessive
preoccupation with Oscar Wilde. The austere, hard-working
Flaubert, renowned for his symbolic realism and
mastery of French prose, is emerging as Greve's
new model to identify with in the future.
Gide, besides noting Greve's
visit in his diaries, recorded his impressions of the
memorable encounter on June 2, 1904, the next day,
but only published them fifteen years later as "Conversation
avec un allemand avant la guerre" in Nouvelle
Revue Française (Aug., 1919; in Incidences,
1924). The eminent Gide scholar Claude Martin has provided
a critical edition of this text in the October 1976 Bulletin
des amis d'André Gide. He
appended two highly informative letters by Greve:
the first, attached by Gide himself, is sent from Cologne
(7.6.1904, 37-38), and follows up on the recent Paris
conversation. Greve also reveals that he is about
to go to London (no doubt, to further his current H.
G. Wells and Meredith translations). The second letter
is from the Greves' voluntary exile in Wollerau (17.10.1904,
39-41). It was added by the editor. In this astounding
document, Greve addresses the entire Fanny Essler project
in great detail: first,
he announces that he is using the name of his future
fictional heroine as a pseudonym for poetry publications:
"Et de moi-même.
Il me faut travailler d'une façon bien singulière.
Je ne suis plus une personne, j'en sommes
trois: je suis 1. M. Felix Paul Greve; 2. Mme Else
Greve; 3. Mme Fanny Essler. La dernière
dont je vous enverrai prochainement les poèmes,
et dont les poèmes -- encore un secret
-- sont adressés à moi, est un
poète déjà assez considéré dans
certaines parties de l'Allemagne" (40).
Note that the masculine
gender is maintained for 'Fanny Essler' in "un poète
(!) déjà assez consideré (!)",
and that Greve is the narcissistic subject of his/her
Greve then gives credit
to Else Greve for translating Flaubert's correspondence,
leaving no doubt that he is
doing all the work, since she only knows Italian.
Her name did indeed appear on two of Greve's
translations of Flaubert's voluminous correspondence.
Greve continues playing on the gender confusion he
has introduced with his list of three names, one his
own, one Else's as his wife, one a woman's name as
pseudonym for both: Mme
Fanny Essler has written two autobiographical
novels in "Bonn sur Rhin" where he was
imprisoned, and as her mentor, he is simply preparing
them for publication. He may well have written drafts
of both books using Else's long letters to him, so
that his work was in fact largely
to little more that editorial. He furthermore toys
with the idea of having one of them published as
an anonymous autobiography entitled
elle n'a publié que des vers. Mais moi, F. P.
Greve, son patron et introducteur, prépare la
publication de deux romans qu'elle a écrits
dans la prison de Bonn sur Rhin...Personne ne se
doute de cet état des choses...l'un des romans
de Mme Essler, qui paraîtra sans nom d'auteur et
que M. l'éditeur croit une autobiographie, aura
pour titre: Fanny Essler" (emphasis mine).
This plan, however, did
not materialize. When the book came out in 1905, the
title was still in place, but it was clearly identified
as fiction, and Greve's name was sitting squarely in
the author's position: Fanny Eßler: ein
Roman von Felix Paul Greve; Entwurf des Umschlags
vom Verfasser. Stuttgart: Axel Juncker Verlag, .
claim to the cover-design could be an unacknowledged
appropriation of Else's artistic talents. She designed
book covers in Dachau before she even met Endell (Ab17
ff; FE 405; 411 mentions one in white silk). "To
push the farce to the limit," Greve
announces, he will soon publish a major critical
article about Fanny
Essler's poetry: "Pour pousser la farce à l'outrance,
je publierai dans quelques semaines un grand article
sur le grand poète Fanny Essler..." Unfortunately,
this article and a related one on German versification
mentioned earlier in the letter remain undiscovered
At the time of these
remarkable revelations, five poems by Fanny Essler
had already appeared on August, 27 and on October 15,
1904 in the same Munich journal which also published
Greve's poem "Die Hexe," Browing's "Kleon
(sic!)" and his Meredith article. Why
the fireworks of names and roles? As Greve candidly
admits to Gide, he has to flood a reluctant German
market, and Alexander von Bernus' Freistatt is
the only journal open to him at the time (40).
The fact that Friedrich Huch, whom Greve must have
known from his Munich days, was the editor then, may
have been a decisive factor.
If Greve ever kept his
promise and sent "his" Fanny Essler poems
to Gide, he must have done so after completing the
cycle with two further poems five months later, on
March 25, 1905. Only when seen together can their
clever composition be fully appreciated (PEd 40-47
(59 ff.) is the only critic to my knowledge who accurately
relates Greve's reversal of the art/life poles to his
imprisonment. Unaware of the explicit Gide conversation,
Knönagel arrives at his conclusions through a pertinent
comparison of Greve's Wilde articles of early and late
1903, before and after the catastrophic event.
admirably cross-referenced all discrepancies and
omissions in the published versions. An important
one (36) contradicts Spettigue's allegation that
Greve intended to offer himself as a homosexual partner
during this encounter (FPG, 126): to Gide's
pédéraste?", Greve responds without
hesitation "Absolument pas!" Another important
difference is that full names replace the intials
"B.R." (Greve) and "von M." (Vollmoeller).
Both these informative letters of June & October
1904 are lacking in Spettigue's recent description
of Greve's fascinating correspondence with Gide (1992,
now about me. I must work in rather strange ways.
I am not one person anymore, I am three: 1. FPG.
2. Mme Else Greve. 3. Mme Fanny Essler. The
latter whose poems I shall send to you shortly, and
which -- this is still a secret -- are addressed
to me, is a poet already well regarded in
some parts of Germany..." (transl. & emphasis
the second printing, London. The first printing (Berlin
copy) spelled "Essler," as does Greve to
Gide, and Freistatt for the poems, but not
on all issue covers. There are no further copies
attested to my knowledge.
some curious coincidence, essays by Ernst Hardt,
Endell, O. A. H. Schmitz and Vollmoeller are represented
in the same volume.
was editor from Heft 19, 1904, to Heft 25, 1905 (Dietzel,
v. 3, 832). Grove's privately printed novel Two
Generations 1939, of which he sent a copy to
Thomas Mann in Princeton, seems to have used Mann's
incest story "Wälsungenblut" (1905)
and Huch's novel Geschwister (1903) as intertexts.
The sister's name is Alice in both Huch's and Grove's