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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


'Fanny Essler's' poems breathe a kind of life and intensity which is more characteristic of Else's expressive creations than it is of Greve's or Grove's. Else's opinion of Greve's poetry in Wanderungen (1902) some twenty years after its publication is as revealing as it is accurate: she aptly identifies its main characteristic as "utter artificiality", and links it to Stefan George's circle whom Greve tried to impress: "His poems were as well cut gems of language juggling without blood-call -- but the call of an ambitious, industrious spirit... The most impressive part about this kind of poetry is paper, print and numbered privacy. It stood for the top-notch of culture" (Ab 165 ff.). Already in 1905, she had judged Greve's style à la Flaubert in his novels about her life "abrupt..., dry and artificial, having no carrying power or convincing quality of its own," and she had started to question his talent accordingly: "...that was the first time, I think, when the seed of doubt about his genius -- at least as artist (elsewhere, she credits him with 'business genius' instead, gd) -- was sewn in me" (Ab 35). Later, her global opinion is yet firmer and harsher: "He made, in spite of his intelligence, the mistake of thinking himself an artist. How that is possible I don't know! He was just the opposite of it...[It] shows an amazing lack of observation, self-analysis and intellect" (Ab 34; emphasis hers).

A certain discrepancy between inspiration and technical skill remains evident in all of Grove's works. His strength lay in an immense, cultural knowledge, excellent craftsmanship, and a knack for imitating whatever model he came to admire in art or life: Nietzsche, Oscar Wilde, Stefan George, Flaubert were providing obvious and


patterns, Goethe, Shakespeare, Hardy, Shelley and others less acknowledged or visible ones. His Canadian novels seem to confirm Else's judgement: the lengthy romans-à-thèse tend to be flesh- and bloodless abstractions cast in two-dimensional characters. Grove's works are far more convincing when they are based on autobiographical material (A Search of America, In Search of Myself), when they are purely descriptive (the nature essays in Over Prairie Trails & The Turn of the Year), or when they are clearly imitative (of Swift in Consider Her Ways, of Nietzsche, Mach, Vaihinger in his published or unpublished critical essays). Just as the symbolic realism of his novels never strays from the traditional rules established by Flaubert, the poetry, though it became noticeably less precious in expression and more universal in content over time to resemble Goethe's "Gedankenlyrik" in many respects, remains


to the formal


of the "George-Mache" (Kluncker, 109 ff.): besides the occasional sonnet, quatrains are the reigning form, humor and emotion are subdued or absent. Even in the cycle devoted to the memory of his daughter's tragic death, Poems: In Memoriam Phyllis May Grove, (PEd 63-153), Grove carefully avoided any direct expression of grief. This cycle thereby deserves the label of "pathetische Distanz" (a distancing from pathos) which Adorno (524) coined for George and his followers.Else's preoccupation with men and love relationships had prevented her artistic inclinations from coming into full bloom until her physical attraction was waning. When she pursued men half her age without much success in New York, she finally started paying attention to her creative potential. Even then she often applied it to the sublimation of present and past experiences, which were more and more often wounds of unrequited love. In that, the motivation and inspiration are not any different from the therapeutical function of the 'Fanny Essler' poems: rejections by William Carlos Williams, Marcel Duchamp, Jerome Blum and George Biddle fuel many of her English poems. On one she even wrote: "To Marcel and Carlos, in post-sexual amusement."

Memories of Ernst Hardt, Richard Schmitz, Behmer, Tse/Endell, Greve and Baron Leo are the focus of her extant German poetry. Some are bitter, many are hilarious, particularly, "Es hat mal einen Ernst gegeben...", about Hardt, and  "Herr Puckellonder war...," about Endell). She went with the flow of life and art in a flexible and adaptive manner, whereas Greve/Grove,

in spite

of all his superior education and knowledge, remained mired in the old patterns he had absorbed in his formative years. He shunned even traces of expressionism or other modernist trends of his time. Else had been muse and "Freundin bedeutender Männer" (subtitle of Musil's Vinzenz, 1924), like most women of her generation and cultural background.[38] Unlike many of them, she outshines the most important man of her life today.

[38]Lou Andreas-Salome for Nietzsche and Rilke, Frieda von Richthoven for D. H. Lawrence, Franziska von Reventlow for many, Helen Hessel for Henri-Yves Roché, Emmy Hennings for Hugo Ball, and -- to a lesser extent -- Alma Mahler-Werfel for Gropius and the two other famous husbands reflected in her name.

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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