Eva Hesse


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Eva Hesse - Essay


 The International Reception of T.S. Eliot,

Hsg., Elizabeth Däumer & Shyamal Bagchee, London Continuum Press 2007



(Re)modernizing Eliot: Eva Hesse and Das Wüste Land



Elisabeth Däumer


Perhaps the genius of an artistic work rests precisely, as Ernst Bloch maintains, in what it has yet to become—what continues to operate in it and continues to compel us—in Eliot’s case the unrealized program of modernity? (Hesse, T.S. Eliot: Gesammelte Gedichte, 3rd ed. 422-423)


[Vielleicht ist das Geniale in einem künstlerischen Werk wirklich, wie Ernst Bloch meint, das ‘Ungewordene’ an ihm—das, was in ihm weiterarbeitet und uns weiterhin betrifft--, in Eliots Fall also das nicht realisierte Programm der Moderne?]


Eva Hesse’s 1972 edition of Eliot’s collected poem, which sported, as a center piece, her own translation of The Waste Land rather than the earlier one of E. R. Curtius, evoked a storm of indignation among the postwar guard of German Eliot critics, who had done much to bring his work to the attention of the German public. Decrying the edition’s self-centered idiosyncracies, critics renounced Hesse’s translation and her detailed analysis of the poem--extended in a book on The Waste Land, separately published in 1973—as ideologically-driven, highly speculative, and in part scurrilous misrepresentations of Eliot and his work.1 What facilitated such charges was the fact that Eva Hesse, an independent scholar who had made a name for herself as translator of Ezra Pound, did not conceal her main intention as editor, translator, and critic of Eliot: to puncture the image of Eliot as a prophetic oracle, the great European man of letters whose cultural and critical dogmas, combined with the hermetic ‘darkness’ of his lyrics and the Christian themes of his drama, had made him, for the decade following World War Two, one of postwar Germany’s most influential foreign authors (cf. Frank T. S. Eliot Criticism and Scholarship, Däumer).  In the first of her incisive essays on the poet, ‘T.S. Eliot: Schwierigkeiten beim Leben: ‘Gerontion’ als Selbstinterpretation des Dichters’ [Trouble with Living: Gerontion as Self-Interpretation of the Poet] (1965), Hesse maintained that ‘This image, which Eliot himself carefully assisted in constructing, erected an armor toward the world that now obstructs access for beginning readers and paralyzes their curiosity’ (122).2  Thus linked to Hesse’s intention of exposing the impenetrable mask of Eliot’s German image, was the objective of opening his poetry to a new generation of readers, for whom Eliot had become the petrified moralizing remnant of highschool didacticism.  Many of them first encountered Eliot in the English classroom, as the author of Murder in the Cathedral, a play that, as Hans Galinsky’s lesson plan reveals, was used not only to introduce students to English history and culture, but also, if less directly, to transmit a religiously shaped understanding of German history and national identity, emphasizing submission to God’s will and adherence to tradition as the civic virtues of a new Germany (cf. Galinsky, Däumer).  For younger Germans eager to raise uncomfortable questions about Germany’s recent past and their parents’ apparent failure to fight against or resist National Socialism, such pedagogical treatments of the play would have held little appeal.3

A main target of critical outrage was Hesse’s openly announced strategy of reading Eliot’s text anagogically, i.e., against the grain of his critical concepts, which in the wake of the New Criticism had become de rigueur in German academic circles as well.  She thereby reversed the tendency of postwar German critics to analyze Eliot’s early work in light of his later, explicitly Christian poetry and drama, a tendency which reflected the by then widely accepted view of Eliot as a modernist who overcame modernity through a renewed commitment to the Christian faith.4  According to Hans Egon Holthusen, a critic of virtually uncontested authority during the 1950s, Eliot had confronted the core problem of the modern era—‘God or nothingness, Christianity or nihilism’—and ‘courageously’ chosen to believe in the incarnation as a historic event (Der Unbehauste Mensch).  Like Grete and Heinrich Schaeder, whose Ein Weg zu Eliot was the first book-length analysis of Eliot’s dramatic work, Holthusen believed that Eliot’s creative development was a progression ‘through the hopeless anarchy of a diseased and lost civilization to the eternally valid patterns of myth and religion, to the grandes clartés premières. . . ’ (Der Unbehauste Mensch 35).5  And although he welcomed the startling combination in Eliot’s religious poetry of avantgarde literary techniques with a stern religiosity, Holthusen’s understanding of Eliot’s pre-conversion poetry was bound by the conviction that it reflected the poet’s spiritual battles with what Eliot, in his contested lectures After Strange Gods, had condemned as the ‘pagan ideologies of the present’, and which he, like W. H. Auden, overcame on his path ‘to the objective validity of God’s word’.6 

In contrast to Holthusen, who believed that Eliot modelled for readers the task of the true poet to ‘think the world back into order’ (quoted by Viebrock 32), Hesse sought to retrieve the modernity of Eliot’s milestone poem by excavating its incompleteness and avant-garde openness, both of which compelled, even required, readers (first among them Ezra Pound) to take an active part in the construction of its meaning.  Although Hesse would make this definition of modernity as a radical artistic openness, characterized by heterogeneity, polyphony, and the decimation of authorial control, explicit only in later essays,7 the kernel of her later view was already apparent in her writings on Ezra Pound in whose cantos she observed the principle of ‘idioplasty’, ‘a process that takes place in the reader’s mind where the poem’s language gives rise to imagery that in turn creates for him an overall texture of meaning’ (New Approaches to Ezra Pound 16).  Such dependence on ‘the reader’s mental capacity’, moreover, calls for interpretative approaches anticipating the text-transcendent critical practices of deconstruction and reader-response.  ‘All exegesis of poetry’, Hesse suggested in her 1969 introduction to New Approaches to Ezra Pound, ‘might be regarded as being, to a significant extent, idioplasty, and as such, forming an extension of the poem read’.  In addition, by ‘generating a kind of corona or chromosphere around the poem, idioplasty is liable to lead the reader to subjects that may sometimes lie far outside the specifics that the poet originally had in mind’ (16).

In Eliot’s case, this principle of idioplasty was stifled by the armor of critical dogma--first among them the objective theory of poetry--which Eliot, supported by his critical acolytes, had erected around his poetry, and which to be demolished required an anagogical reading able to uncover the poem’s ‘existential ground’—the living, breathing young man and the torturous circumstances that had compelled the poem.  Significantly, it was precisely with regard to Hesse’s psychoanalytically framed biographical interpretation of The Waste Land as the encoded confessions of a suicidal young man or modern Werther (an interpretation informing as well her controversial translational choices), that she was accused of disregarding Eliot’s modernist style, in particular the frequently noted enigmatic ‘darkness’ and ambiguity of his lyrical work, which is violated ‘when the meaning assigned is too clearly formulated’ (Eliot quoted by Hulpke14).  The charge that Hesse tried to fix the poem’s ambiguity (Hulpke 28) and, by reducing it to a pathological document, devalued its status as autonomous, imaginative Kunstwerk, was based on Hesse’s expressed conviction that the characteristic darkness of Eliot is not so much an intentional element of style as the product of a deep-seated pervasive fear of ‘moral disapprobation’, an unwillingness, in Kristian Smidt’s words ‘to reveal private emotions that clamor for expression but need to be hidden from the reader’s comprehension’ (quoted by Hesse Gesammelte Gedichte 2nd ed. 421).  With the publication of the ‘Ur-text’ in 1971, Hesse maintained, critics and translators would be able to ‘decode . . . practically all the difficult verses of Eliot’, which had traditionally been received as the enigmatically formulated eternally valid truths of Europe’s occidental heritage (421).8

Yet at heart of this divisive controversy over the interpretability of Eliot’s poetry, and its characteristic ‘indistinctness’, was not, as Hesse’s critics supposed, the validity and use of biographical material, but disparate conceptions of poetic modernity.  For implicit in the criticism launched against Hesse’s pioneering work was a static conception of poetry cultivated by the form and pattern-oriented new critics, the official exegetes of modern poetry, who posited the poem as autonomous object in which ironies, paradoxes, and ambiguities were ultimately reconciled in a radiant organic unity.  Accordingly, in the new critical conception, ‘Vieldeutigkeit’ [ambiguity] is a mark not of textual openness or the absence of closure, but of the mystically elevated, hermetically sealed, sacred object of poetry, whose meaning, while amenable to the methods of ‘Literaturwissenschaft’, can ultimately not be identified beyond references to its profound and universal human significance.  As a corollary of such immanent criticism, translation is to be faithful to the hermeticism of the original, an almost impossible task, especially in Eliot’s case, since every translation demands to some extent a ‘fixation’ of the ‘range of meanings of the source text‘ [eine Festlegung von Bedeutungsmöglichkeiten gegenüber dem ausgangssprachlichen Text] (Hulpke 14).  (Curtius, as we shall see, sought to preserve the enigmatic nature of Eliot’s poem through a word for word translation which produced, however, the opposite effect of domesticating and thus obliterating many of the modernist effects that constituted the Eliot’s ‘new tone’ [cf. Curtius 300; Fink, ‘Zur “Waste Land”-Übertragung von Ernst Robert Curtius’).

Proceeding from the premise that art ‘does not reproduce the visible; it makes visible’ (The Waste Land: Eine Analyse 57), Hesse takes a very different view of the critic’s and translator’s responsibilities with regard to poetic obscurity and ‘Unschärfe’ [indistinctness].  These are not to be preserved, as hallowed, ultimately uninterpretable and untranslatable ground, but serve as invitations--in the case of T. S. Eliot even hidden appeals--for the collaboration of reader, critic, or translator.  In a later extended reflection on translation and her own practice as translator (Vom Zungenreden), Hesse suggests that all human discourse is subject to the principle of ‘Unschärfe’—in conversations, for instance, what matters is not what I said but its significance for the other’; moreover, this indistinctness, far from indicating a weakness of language or posing insurmountable obstacles for translation, contains within it ‘a great and irrational potential of creative energy’ (22) liberated in modern poetry’s self-reflexive experimentation with language. 9

These considerations, while offered thirty years later, help illuminate Hesse’s critical and translational choices in the early 1970s.  They reveal how for Hesse translation, criticism, and modernity were inextricably related, reciprocally reinforcing practices.  Hesse’s decision to ‘stir up calcified conceptions of literariness‘(Vom Zungenreden 10),10 by drawing the poem in the context of psychoanalysis, anthropology, Eliot’s biography, and the life of Countess Marie Larisch, reflects a translational practice that she describes as ‘a subjective appropriation, which frequently pushed at the limits of the so far sayable in one’s language, against semantic synapses, that had been so far denied or silenced in/by one’s target language’ ( 9).11  Such practices, in turn, were inspired by her study of Anglo-American modernism, in particular the pioneering work of Pound, ‘himself a great and controversial translator,’ from whom she learned a lot about the craft and theory of translation (11). 

Hesse’s translation of The Waste Land and her two analyses of Eliot—the 1971 postcripts and her extensive essay on the Waste Land, published separately in 1973— advanced an image of Eliot that that did, indeed, push against the limits of the sayable by dragging to light the poet’s hidden and improper dimensions: his sexual and psychological predicaments and a pathological secretiveness occasioned by overwhelming feelings of guilt.  Hesse’s psychoanalytic reading of Eliot’s compulsion to conceal ‘an unstable emotional life behind the esoteric associative technique of his poetry or the pedantically dogmatic “righteousness” of his punitive critical expeditions’ (Gesammelte Gedichte 2nd ed., 400)12 owes much to the work of Herbert Marcuse, whose cultural criticism, appearing in the late 50s and 60s, offered younger Germans new models for individual and collective emancipation in opposition to their parents’ perceived compliance with the dominant power structures.  Forging a dialogue between Marcuse’s socio-psychoanalytic Gesellschaftskritik and The Waste Land, Hesse arrived at a genuinely fresh interpretation of the poem as the encoded confession of Eliot’s ‘rebellion’ against a society ruled by the death drive.  A poem like The Waste Land, she maintained, is fuelled by the ‘return of repressed desires’, manifest in an oppositional reality on both ontogenetic and phylogenetic levels of the poem (The Waste Land: Eine Analyse 57).  Apparent in the evocative motifs of drowning (the death by water) and the ‘Liebestod’ (where Eros and Thanatos merge [87]), this ‘antipodic reality’ points to the poem’s hidden theme: its negation of ‘Unfreiheit’ [bondage] (57), its longing for ‘libidinal freedom in a world of oppression’ (90).13

Thus four years before the publication of James Miller’s T. S. Eliot’s Personal Wasteland (1977), Hesse took seriously at least part of Eliot’s admission that the poem was ‘only the relief of a personal and wholly insignificant grouse against life’ (WLF 1), and, in accordance with John Peter’s initially censored interpretation, located a ‘sträfliches Geheimnis’ [reprehensible secret] (The Waste Land: Eine Analyse 59) as the unspoken theme of the poem and source of its emotional coherence: Eliot’s mortal infatuation with Jean Verdenal and his suicidal melancholy upon the death of the beloved on the battlefields of world war one  Denounced, like Miller’s work, as the ‘homosexual interpretation of Eliot’s life and work’ (Christopher Butler quoted by Miller xv), Hesse’s analysis was largely ignored in the press and dismissed in academe where it was brought up in polemical asides that reduced her complex reading of the multiple ways in which Eros emerges as the poem’s dissenting force to the narrow insistence on Eliot’s closeted homosexuality.  Indeed, critics largely misconstrued the motivation of Hesse’s analysis as her desire to accuse Eliot of a represensible secret and, in defense of their idol, ignored her explicitly announced insistence that the poem, at its core, militates against the shaming of erotic impulses that transgress the narrow grooves of middle-class propriety.14 

In the context of such dismissive, largely defensive reactions, it is particularly instructive to study Eva Hesse’s translation, which hand in hand with recuperating the poem’s avantgarde features (idioplasty, polyphony, dissidence) also exposed its sexual ambiguity, apparent not only in Tiresias, ‘old man with wrinkled ducts’, and his double—Countess Marie Larisch15—but also in the many other female figures, whose stories and voices point to the poem’s vibrant femininity, a dimension that the previous German translations (both Curtius’s and Margul-Sperber’s) were unable to grasp.  Hesse’s version of the opening lines—‘April benimmt das Herz’ [April stuns the heart]—immediately signals her departure from Curtius’s word-for-word transfer and thus from traditional concepts of fidelity, which posit the translator as a self-effacing copier of the original, in Hesse’s words, ‘an interpreter forbidden to interpret’ (Vom Zungenreden 23).16  True to Pound’s modernist practice of idioplasty, Hesse views the translational effort as an extension of a ‘work in progress’, even, as she would later propose, a team effort in which author and translator work on a virtual text that each seeks to actualize in his or her own language (tertium quid 121-2).  Since, in the case of Eliot, such collaboration was inhibited by the formidable dictates of impersonality, Hesse responded creatively, often quite intuitively, to the poem’s charged language and its suppressed emotional core, whose unfinished nature had been fully revealed by the publication of the manuscript and Pound’s editorial measures.  In some way, Hesse’s translation joins the efforts of Pound and Eliot’s first wife, Vivienne, to bring the poem into being.  Yet instead of teaming up with Eliot’s authorial self—which had proved so prohibitive—Hesse centered on the poem’s lyrical self, the ‘third person in the first’, or as Rimbaud, whom Hesse cites, put it, the ‘self that is another’ (tertium quid 124/25).

Given this notion of translation as a creative endeavor responding to and extending an ‘original’ that is itself a work in progress, it will not surprise us that the opening lines of  Hesse’s Das Wüste Land capture the essential tone and mood of the poem very differently than Curtius’s do:




April benimmt das Herz, er heckt

Flieder mit der toten Flur, verquickt

Erinnern und Verlangen, langt

Taube Wurzeln an mit Lenzregen.

(Gesammelte Gedichte 2nd ed. 11)


The translation of the first line commits what Ernst Ottokar Fink, in the only detailed discussion of German translations of Eliot (some of Hesse’s included), would have castigated as as the ‘sin’ of intensification and grammatical activation of the source text (Zur übersetzerischen Rezeption 191), a charge--whether we agree with Fink’s sense of its deleterious effect or not—that is largely justified: Hesse’s ‘April’ is an agent of suffering and pain, which acts upon, even in the grammatical sense, the implied speaker or consciousness, ‘stunning’ his heart.  ‘Benimmt’ refers to ‘taking away’ as in ‘taking one’s breath away’ [nimmt mir die Luft weg] and evokes the curious jolt (which I sought to translate by ‘stun’) associated with the interruption of such essential physiological functions as breathing or the beating of the heart, both of which have strong emotional and spiritual dimensions.  It is important to note that the frequent intensifications in Hesse’s translation serve not to heighten the source text’s dramatic effect—as they did in many of the German translations of Eliot--but to foreground its ‘strangeness’: for the spring she invokes is not only the mild season of southern Germany or Paris, but also the ‘sensual, animal, elemental’ spring of Henry Adams’s Maryland whose ‘profligate vegetation’ and ‘terrific splendour’, alluded to in Eliot’s ‘Gerontion’, is vehement and strangely pagan, a harbinger of Eros and Thanatos at once (cf. Hesse, ‘”Gerontion” als Selbst-Interpretation’ 252).  Where Eliot used ‘plain language’ (Fink, ‘Das Fachwort’ 391) to describe the ‘cruel’ work of April—‘breeding’, ‘mixing’, ‘stirring’—Hesse gives us ‘hecken’, ‘verquicken’, and ‘anlangen’, all three richly associative words that combine archaic or more specialized with common meanings.  In its archaic, and to most German readers less familiar sense, ‘hecken’ refers to the breeding of small mammals and birds—a more apt but less ‘plain’ rendition than Curtius’s ‘treibt’ [force].  At the same time, ‘hecken’ is related to ‘aushecken’, which means to hatch or concoct a scheme, most often a mischievous or evil one.  The choice of  ‘verquicken’ develops this sense of impending doom lurking in the life-force of nature through its link to alchemy: in its original meaning, ‘verquicken’ refers to the alchemical practice of alloying metals with ‘mercury’ or quicksilver [quecksilber], a shiny silver metal, also called argentum vivum [living silver].  The German ‘quick’ in ‘verquicken’, moreover, means ‘quick’, ‘fast’, ‘alive’ as it does in English.   A subtle echo of life and eros, Hesse uses it again in ‘Quickborn’ for ‘Spring’ in the water-dripping song of part V.  ‘Anlangen’ is a stronger verb than Eliot’s ‘stirring’ since in its colloquial meaning of  ‘touching’, often in the sense of improper or unwanted touching, it implies a motivated action, designed to provoke a response.  Even though Curtius sought to convey Eliot’s ‘new tone’, his cautious word-for-word translation succeeded in domesticating and thus demodernizing the Eliot’s poem.  By contrast, Hesse’s translational ‘departures’, in particular her juxtaposition of archaic and colloquial—even, as we shall see, regional—expressions retrieved the poem’s foreignness by disrupting German readers’ expectations of the elevated ‘Poet’s German’, which any educated German would have acquired in school.

Hesse’s use of language betrays its modernist provenance most clearly when her choice of words is determined, less by strictly denotative meanings, than by melopoeic affinities or metonymic associations.  A striking example of her effort to charge words with multiple meanings—on the three levels of sound, image, and sense17—is Hesse’s translation of the nightmare vision in part V with its ‘hooded hords’, ‘falling towers’, and ‘bats with baby faces in the violet light’ (‘What The Thunder Said’ CPP 48).  Her decision to translate ‘Falling Towers’ as ‘Purzelnde Zinnen’ [tumbling pinnacles or spires] appears, at first glance, a shocking distortion of the Spenglerian pathos of these prophetic lines on the destruction of the Western civitas.  Yet on closer inspection one recognizes the compelling logic of this highly creative rendition, which foregrounds the nightmare’s dadaist elements and supplants elevated pathos with the irreverently, but no less terrifyingly, absurd.  For German readers, ‘purzeln’ is a word saturated with childhood associations—the tumbling, exuberant movements of children; the joy of erecting and subsequently destroying towers made of blocks; and as well the playful ‘Purzelbaum’ [summersault].  In its connection with ‘purzeln’, ‘Zinnen’ [the pinnacles or battlements of mediaeval castles] extends the association with childhood games even while signaling the historical context of decline; and so does ‘verpufft in lila Luft’, Hesse’s translation of ‘bursts in the violet air’, which brings to mind the pop or poof (as of an exploding gas) accompanying a magician’s spectacular trick.  The part frantic, part ecstatic movement of the dream passage is reinforced by Hesse’s use of ‘kantern’ [galloping, or in reference to a child, frolicking or skipping] for ‘stumbling’ in ‘stumbling in cracked earth’.  In addition, the polyphonic field of these words has distinctly sexual resonances: stemming from the Middle High German ‘burzeln’ [to fall down], ‘purzeln’ is related to ‘Bürzel’ [the tail of a bear or a badger]; the phallic dimension of the word, and the hint of sexual failure, are playfully extended in the double entendre of ‘verpuffen’, which also means to ‘fizzle out’ and which contains the word ‘puff’—a colloquial term for ‘brothel’ related to the older and colloquial meaning of ‘puffen’ for intercourse (Gesammelte Gedichte 2nd ed. 37).

In her postcript to the 1988 edition of Collected Poems, Hesse noted the ‘unconscious osmosis [in Eliot’s work] of Avantgarde and Neoclassicism’, which reflected Eliot’s difficulties to integrate ‘the not-serious, not-refined, not-proper of his nature, in short his unruly Abseite, with the high seriousness of Art as Matthew Arnold conceived of it’ (411).  Highlighting the dadaist elements of this osmosis, Hesse’s translation of the nightmare passage emphasizes the personal pathology of the dream sequence.  Where Curtius sought to capture the high pathos of Eliot’s vision—the ‘unreal’ vision of the destruction of western culture—Hesse prods us to notice its anarchic elements: the desire for an orgiastic, ultimately destructive, liberation that would also result in ‘falling towers’.18  Hesse’s translation never loses sight of the profound fear and despair accentuating the speaker’s apocalyptic vision of bats with ‘Baby-Schnuten’ [Baby pouts], ‘upside down’ towers, and ‘voices singing out of empty cisterns and exhausted wells’.19  In contrast to Curtius’ static translation, however, she captures the propulsive, strangely euphoric, rhythm of this passage, culminating in the cock’s crow—a mark of aggressive male affirmation which, a she maintains, puts an end to the nightmare in the perilous chapel and brings the longed for rain (Das Wüste Land 85).

A particular challenge in translating modernist poetry, Hesse would point out later, is to transfer ‘the dialectic between the aesthetic of ugliness—the unpoetic—and the more conventional aesthetic of the beautiful’ (Zungenreden 18) from one language to another.  Neither Curtius nor Margul-Sperber were able to do that; both of their translations reduced the distance between the more conventionally poetic language of The Waste Land, figuring in the many citations of other poetic texts, and the many instances of decidedly non-poetic language, assimilating all of them to traditional German notions of ‘Poet’s German’ (cf. Fink, Die übersetzerische Rezeption ).  Convinced, perhaps, that German readers would be too alienated by a ‘true’ poet’s use of street jargon,20 Curtius’s 1927 rendition of the eruptions of ordinary, lower-class language in Eliot’s poem were particularly timid and bloodless.  Hesse, by contrast, approaching the unpoetic with gusto, resurrects it in language mixing the colloquial with punchy regionalisms: Lil’s husband was not ‘demobilisiert’ [demobilized] as Curtius rather archly put it, but ‘abgemustert’ [demobbed]; instead of Curtius’s helpless ‘der [Albert] will sich lustig machen’, Hesse puts, ‘der will jetzt was vom Leben haben’, a much more idiomatic way of rendering ‘he wants a good time’.  In utter disregard of the translational ‘sin’ of employing regionalisms, Hesse names Lil’s youngest son ‘Schorschi’, Bavarian for ‘little George’; Mrs. Porter and her daughter wash their feet in Fachingerquell—the German equivalent of French Perrier or Italian Apollinaris.  Similarly, the mechanical sexual gymnastics of the typist and ‘young man carbuncular’, who has the air of a  ‘Ruhrpott-Millionär’ [someone who made his fortune in the industrialized Rhine region], are translated in language rife with the vocabulary, some of it imported from French, that Germans reserve for romantic or sexual encounters: ‘Avancen’, ‘vis-à-vis’,’tête-à-tête‘, as well as ‘knutschen’ and ‘fummeln’.

This brings us to the poem’s sexual ambiguity, which is not purely a matter of content—the presence of androgynous and vocal female characters, the persistent theme of sexuality—but as much or more a matter of the poem’s formal challenges to traditional ideas of the poetic.  Implicit in the modernist drive to open art to the ‘aesthetic of ugliness’ is the tendency to question or, indeed, reject conventional presentations of women, which, whether idealizing or demonizing, had effected the ‘de-realization’ of women in art (Hesse, Der Aufstand der Musen 55).   Of course, Hesse was quite aware that modernity’s ‘phallic theory of art’ ensured that male modernist efforts to probe the true nature of femininity were guided, not by emancipatory aspirations for women’s social equality, but by the desire to ‘einverleiben’ [ingest] the feminine ‘Other’ (50-52).  Nevertheless, in her translation of The Waste Land Hesse foregrounds the poem’s radical challenge to conventional representations of women apparent in its montage of mythic or literary female figures—Dido, Philomela, Orphelia—with ‘modern’ women, whose unidealized reality emerges powerfully in their voices and in the choice details invoking their lives.  In addition, two of them—Marie from ‘Burial of the Dead’ and the hysterical woman in ‘A Game of Chess’—are based on actual women: Countess Marie Larisch, whom Eliot met, most likely during his abbreviated stay in Germany, and his first wife, Vivienne, who in Hesse’s rendition, is referenced by Madame Sosostris as ‘Belladonna . . . Diejenige welche’.21  It is precisely this realism with regard to gender relations and sexual matters, captured in an urban, ‘unpoeticizing’ idiom, that the translations of Curtius and Margul-Sperber, for both aesthetic and ideological reasons, were not able to grasp: for related to their discomfort with the intrusions of the unpoetic was a residual late-Victorian attitude toward women and female sexuality (not surprising given the time frame of their translations) that shaped their tendency to cast The Waste Land’s women as wronged or fallen denizens of a world deprived of moral values, as either objects of male machinations or neurasthenic femme fatales, but never as subjects.  Hesse’s translation, by contrast, excavates, and in part intensifies, the poem’s invocation of feminine subjectivity, so that her Tiresias, and what ‘he’ sees, more genuinely incorporates both male and female experiences and views.

     In subtle ways, Hesse’s Wüste Land puts readers into the place of women, not so much by eliciting their empathy for them, but by shedding light on their inner lives and thus ever so slightly removing the reader from the perspective of mere observer of women—a perspective that inheres in many of Eliot’s poems, from his early poem ‘Portrait d’une Femme’ to his dramatic monologues ‘Portrait of a Lady’, ‘The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock’, and ‘La Figlia Che Piange’.  This dislocation of the reader’s typical perspective happens first and foremost as a result of voice: Hesse’s women speak in a more distinctive, believable voice.  Thus Hesse’s Marie, remembering her ride on the sled with the ‘arch-duke’, her cousin, recalls: ‘Ich kriegte es mit der Angst’  [I got scared] a colloquial phrasing that gives us a more direct feeling for Marie’s childhood fears than Curtius’s ‘Ich fürchtete mich’, the word for word translation of ‘I was frightened’ (CPP 37).  In translating the end of the claustrophobic Boudoir scene in ‘A Game of Chess’, when the woman—part Dido, part Vivienne—brushes her hair, which ‘spread out in fiery points/ Glowed into words, then would be savagely still’ (40), Hesse directs readers to the woman’s suppressed ‘savage’ anger: using the verb ‘hisst’ [to hoist] in ‘hisst hoch Ihr Haar’ [‘hoists high her hair’ for ‘glowed into words’] and ‘geladen’ [loaded] in ‘fällt abermals in geladenes Schweigen’ [‘plunges again into a loaded silence’ for ‘then would be savagely still’], Hesse recreates the woman’s charged emotional intensity, while giving us, through the word ‘geladen’ [loaded] a hint as to its psychological source: her longing for emotional and sexual intimacy and perhaps, in accordance with the allusion to Vivienne Eliot, her stifled artistic creativity as well.  Curtius’s translation, by contrast, leaves readers on the outside, as observers of the woman’s unsettling emotional discharge: her hair ‘glühte in Worte auf, und schwieg dann grimm’ [glowed into words and then fell into grim silence].  As an adjective, ‘grim’ describes the woman’s impression on a male observer and thus focuses us on his feelings--of discomfort, even fear--not on the woman’s.  Moreover, grimness in women, whatever the source, rarely elicits empathy or understanding.  Similarly, in the subsequent scene of disconnected dialogue between husband and wife, Hesse’s translation, again more colloquial in its rendition of direct speech than Curtius’s, brings to life the woman’s hysterical despair—and the man’s increasing withdrawal—in choice language: instead of Curtius’s rather stilted, highly unidiomatic, confession, ‘Meine Nerven schmerzen heut abend’ [my nerves hurt tonight], Hesse’s woman describes herself as a ‘Nervenbündel’ [a bag of nerves], a woman on the verge of erratic dissolution, threatening to run out into the street ‘With my hair down, so’ (CPP 41).

The difference between translations, and the attitudes toward women informing them, surfaces strikingly in the various renditions of the sexual encounter between the typist and ‘young man carbuncular’, the core scene of ‘The Fire Sermon’, epitomizing Eliot’s abject sense of modern sexual relations, especially among working people.  A comparison of the translations—or what we might call ‘versions’—of what Tiresias sees suggests the confrontation of two value systems about women, their bodies, and their sexuality, both of them, interestingly, implicit in Eliot’s ‘original’ version.  The one guiding Curtius’s and Sperber’s translations is anchored in the allusion to Olivia’s song, from The Vicar of Wakefield, the lament of a woman who went ‘astray’:

When lovely woman stoops to folly

And finds too late that men betray

What charm can soothe her melancholy

What art can wash her guilt way?

The only art her guilt to cover,

to hide her shame from every eye,

To give repentance to her lover/

And wring her bosom—is to die. (quoted by Southam 84)

Within this system of values, women’s ‘honor’, indeed her very sense of value, is based on her sexual purity, which, once relinquished, marks her as ‘fallen’.  In both Curtius’s and Margul-Sperber’s renditions of what is commonly called the ‘seduction scene’, Olivia’s song serves as moral barometer for their representations of the typist’s post-coital consciousness.  Sperber casts her as a wronged woman, who ‘longed’ [ersehnte], not just ‘expected’, the young man, and whose premature, even negligent, relinquishment of herself to his aggressive advances was prompted by loneliness and the ‘folly’ to mistake sexual interest for love. Once left to herself in a state of apathetic half-consciousness, Margul-Sperber’s maiden is aware of only one thought: ‘So war es das? Gottlob es ist vorbei’ [So that was it? Thank God it’s over], suggesting that this may have been either her first sexual encounter, or at least, her first with this ‘longed’ for young man (Ödland 80).  Ignoring the juxtaposition, in Eliot’s version of the event, between Olivia’s overwhelming sense of shame and the typists’s apathetic indifference to the event, Margul-Sperber’s censure of the young woman is mild when, as if attempting to console her, he addresses her directly as ‘graceful girl’ and excuses her ‘folly’ through reference to her loneliness and the ‘Tränenlied’, a bluesy or weepy song attesting to her mournful, depressed state of mind, which she puts on the grammaphone (81).22  Curtius’s less charitable depiction of the act and the typist’s subsequent behavior more faithfully renders Tiresias’s disdain for both the young man’s brutal advances and the typist’s listless indifference.  Unlike Sperber’s typist, Curtius’s is not a victim, but a woman whose only response to a mechanical sexual encounter lacking any seductiveness is a preoccupation with her coiffure.  Retaining Eliot’s Goldsmith allusion in English, Curtius foregrounds the contrast between Olivia’s shame and modern woman’s moral shallowness: ‘When lovely woman stoops to folly—schon / Geht sie in ihrem Zimmer hin und her, / Legt eine Platte auf das Grammaphon, / Und fühlt, ob die Frisur in Ordnung wär’ [right away / she paces in her room / puts on a record on the grammaphone / and makes sure that her coiffure is still in order] (Curtius, Das Wüste Land 61). 

In Hesse’s rendition of the scene, the typist’s agency is grammatically activated and thus intensified.  While in Eliot’s depiction of the young man’s ‘caresses / which still are unreproved, if undesired’, the typist disappears as grammatical subject, Hesse’s ‘does not withdraw’ from ‘Avancen’ [advances] indifferently received: ‘Avancen, lustlos aufgenommen, denen sie sich nicht entzieht’ (T. S. Eliot und Das Wüste Land 27).  Neither a wronged nor fallen woman, Hesse’s typist has an almost pragmatic sense of her participation, or rather non-participation, in the undesired sexual act.  Her ‘half-formed thought’, upon the departure of the crude young man, is simply: ‘Das wär vorbei.  War leider an der Reihe’ [That’s over now. Was due again, unfortunately], a comment conveying her resigned acceptance of the inevitability of this encounter—merely one of many that she has engaged upon in the past and will in the future.  In this scenario, Eliot’s allusion to Goldsmith, translated and italicized by Hesse, ‘Wenn schöne Frauen sich verfehlen’, becomes the object of parody, as if to imply the irrelevance, and indeed, hypocrisy, of such discourse on woman’s honor in a world whose governing drive is neither ethical nor spiritual nor erotic, but purely economic.  Thus what Hesse’s Tiresias foresuffers ‘on this same divan or bed’ is neither the moral shallowness of modern women nor, simply, the brutalization of modern sexuality, but the utter, life-denying, absence of eros, the reduction of the two people involved to mere automatons, carelessly satisfying a purely physical ‘itch’, as is the case for the young man, or complying, as does the woman, with a crude social rite, in which her body is served up as tired, but expected, conclusion to a scripted rendezvous. 

Where Curtius’s translation captures Eliot’s animus toward both the lower class and the new woman, whose sexual autonomy has robbed her, allegedly, of shame and emotional depth, Hesse seizes upon the poem’s utopian impulse apparent in the androgynous consciousness of Tiresias who partakes of both male and female experiences, and who is more purely a witness suffering the degradation of eros than Curtius’s repulsed, judgmental observer of modern licentiousness and sexual misrule.   Both perspectives, the judgmental and the utopian, are present in the poem, apparent in the conflict, as Hesse described it, between the forces of Thanatos and Eros, or, as Christine Froula put it many years later, between the ‘lover’ and ‘the police’.23  Corresponding to her sense of the poem’s avantgarde challenge to gender relations and sexuality, Hesse foregrounds the perspective of eros, a choice that manifests itself as well in her care at avoiding moralizing adjectives: The ‘dirty ears’ attending to Philomela’s song for the salacious details of her rape become ‘unzarte Ohren’ [rude ears], a more neutral choice than Curtius’s ‘schmutzige’ [the direct equivalent for ‘dirty’], which resonates with moral disapprobation.  Similarly, in translating the Thames maiden’s testimony, ‘I can connect / Nothing with nothing’, Hesse focuses readers on ‘The broken fingernails of dirty hands’ as metonymies for desperate, economically deprived lives: ‘Die Trauerränder eingerissener Fingernägel sind beredt’ [the mourning edge of broken fingernails tell volumes], rather than as signifiers of a depraved—economically as well as morally—existence, conveyed in Curtius’s rendition.24

Hesse’s Das Wüste Land expressed her deepening engagement with modernism in its avant-garde mode, an aesthetic program fuelled by anti-authoritarian and de-hierarchisizing impulses.  In important ways, Hesse’s translation, because it draws on creative energies liberated by the translational encounter with Eliot’s text, activates aspects of the poem that she would later define as hallmarks of avant-garde modernity: polyphony and the simultaneous diminishment of authorial omnipotence; anagogic rather than logical connections and thus the creation of polyphonous word fields or webs charged with meanings that not only exceed but actively resist authorial control; the double and multiple significations of words that create a textuality militating against closure; the upheaval of traditional dichotomies between high and popular, poetic and ordinary, Kunst and Unkunst, the ‘object of art’ and its environment, the intentional and accidental (‘Die Literarische Reproduktion’  484).  Such efforts to recuperate the poem’s modernity were not, as I have indicated, confined to formal features alone, but went hand in hand with what might be called a translational intensification of its suppressed erotic dimension—of the lover in rebellion against the internalized strictures of a life- and body-denying society.

The exhuberance suffusing Hesse’s Wüste Land is, without doubt, the most telling defense against those critics who charged her with disliking Eliot (Hulpke 24).  True, Hesse rejected the canonized Eliot (‘ein Westminster aus Pappmaché’ she called him in her postscript to the 1988 edition of Gesammelte Gedichte)—but she loved The Waste Land and sought to recreate her own passionate response to the poem for a younger generation of German reader alienated by Eliot’s rigidified German image and the postulates guarding his fossilized poetic work.  Where Curtius, in 1927, sought to introduce German readers to a contemporary modernist artwork and its new tone—a task, that in his own estimate, he did not succeed at25—Hesse, obviously reacting to Curtius’s less than successful translation endeavored to counteract the progressive domestication and academization of the poem by re-defamiliarizing both the work and its author.26  Ironically, in doing so, she was prompted by a similarly impassioned impulse as Curtius, who, in the 1927 introduction to his Das Wüste Land, recalled how, upon first reading it, he found himself engulfed by a ‘melodious mystery, a sounding happiness’(300).27  And while Hesse's antagonist Erika Hulpke, censuring her ideologically driven interpretation of The Waste Land, cites Curtius’s oft-quoted phrase from his introduction: ‘true criticism does not seek to prove but only to reveal’, she conveniently omits the words leading up to it: ‘criticism is founded on an act of irrational contact’.28 

That Hesse might be the translator most qualified to retrieve for German readers such  creative, irrational contact to the poem was apparent to the German publisher of Eliot, the Suhrkamp Verlag, whose director, Siegfried Unseld, approached Eva Hesse on March 4, 1969, with the ambitious plan to produce a revised edition of Eliot’s Gesammelte Gedichte, which would include a new translation of The Waste Land.  He also suggested the production of a volume of materials related to Eliot’s poetry, which, edited by Hesse would feature, as centerpiece, her 1965 analysis of ‘Gerontion’.  The latter volume was to ‘answer the question how to read Eliot’s poems today’.29  Unseld, as he admitted in the same letter to Hesse, had been deeply impressed by her ‘Gerontion’ essay, which convinced him that the translation of Eliot’s poetry called for a radically new approach, one fully alive to his poem’s linguistic and structural modernity. 

Even though Hesse anticipated that readers acquainted with Curtius’s rendition of The Waste Land would be alienated by her new, radically different, version, she was surprised by the severe, downright hostile, reactions it evoked, many of them never expressed in print, but voiced, informally and thus more damagingly, in German literary circles and in letters to the Suhrkamp Verlag.30  No doubt in response to complaints by Holthusen and Frank, whose own extensive study of Eliot’s criticism, Die Sehnsucht nach dem Unteilbaren Sein, would appear in 1973, Suhrkamp published Hesse’s extended analysis—T.S. Eliot und Das Wüste Land: Eine Analyse (1972)-- in an almost secretive manner outside its standard series, and then, only three years later, reissued Curtius’ translations, this time with a foreword by Holthusen, which reiterated many of  the points first advanced in Curtius’s introductory essay from 1927 while completely ignoring Hesse’s previous translation and analysis.31  Given Suhrkamp’s awareness of the real shortcomings of Curtius’ translation, the decision to republish Curtius’ translation was surely a strange one.32  Hulpke insists that Suhrkamp did so in an effort to ‘correct’ Hesse’s ‘rigid, one-sided, and novel’ image of Eliot (30; cf. Frank, T. S. Eliot Criticism A28).  Yet it is more likely that Suhrkamp obeyed the pressure of negative publicity, a decision they evidently regretted, since in 1987 they turned again to Hesse asking her to oversee a second and revised edition of Gesammelte Gedichte.  This second edition was published in 1988 with a new postscript by Hesse, in which she addressed the accumulated criticisms of her previous edition while, once again, introducing German readers to a new understanding of Eliot’s creative development, this time from a feminist, specifically Kristevan perspective.

It is unfortunate for the German study of Eliot that the stormy response occasioned by Hesse’s ‘novel’ approach to Eliot did not initiate a public or, at least, academic debate, which might have been able to revitalize the flagging interest in Eliot and draw a newer generation of writers, readers, and translators to his complex and unpredictable work.  Ostracized in influential literary circles, yet never seriously analyzed nor critically discussed in print, Hesse’s genuinely new perspective was silenced.  Hesse sought to make Eliot’s work newly topical, by drawing it—as she did with her work on Pound—into the evolving discussion of Germany’s recent past, in particular with regards to the links between modernity, masculinity, and fascism, a discussion for which Eliot’s work—in its explosive mix of avant-garde and anti-liberal, protofascist tendencies, including its appeal to postwar Germans--was just as central as Pound’s.  In Viebrock and Frank’s 1975 collection of scholarly essays—on the ‘Aktualität’ [relevance] of Eliot—the presence of such dissenting voices, was noted, with reservations, as the ‘negative theory of Eliot’, with Hesse’s work mentioned only once, in a brief and disparaging summary of her Waste Land analysis.  At the same time, Viebrock and Frank dismissed a younger generations’ critical attitude towards Eliot’s conservative ideological positions as attacks from those ‘who knew National Socialism only from hearsay’ (17).  Thus, despite their intention of demonstrating Eliot’s abiding relevance, the effort to ‘discipline’ what can, and cannot, be said about Eliot, forestalled another opportunity for a revitalized public dialogue on the Anglo-American poet’s complex modernity.  Since then, with the exception of a recent audio recording of  The Waste Land (in Curtius’s version) by the German actor Bruno Ganz, interest in Eliot has been sustained, exclusively, within German departments of English [Anglistik], which, as a recent essay by Ina Schabert explains, have remained bastions of male privilege largely hostile to feminist scholarship and thus to the critical force which has crucially contributed to the resurrection of Eliot studies within the Anglo-American realm.33 

By puncturing the dominant, postwar Eliot image, Hesse, an outsider from the sacred groves of German academe, had robbed his champions of ‘their’ Eliot.  They retaliated by censoring her dissident perspective of Eliot.  Undisturbed by such slights, Hesse has gone on to produce a remarkably diverse body of work, winning accolades from a broader public and, more recently, within academe.33  Ironically, then, the true ‘victim’ of the stifled debate over Eliot was not Hesse, but the German Eliot himself.




1 In her dissertation, Erika Hulpke summarized the chief arguments against Hesse as translator and editor of Eliot (23-31).  A doctoral student of Armin Paul Frank, Hulpke may well have formulated the views of her Doktor Vater, who conveyed his disapproval of Hesse’s ideologically shaped approach in a number of critical asides, yet never in an extensive analysis.  See, for instance, the summaries of Hesse’s work in his bibliographic surveys, T. S. Eliot Criticism and Scholarship, edited with Erika Hulpke (B 18, 100, 123, 127) and the survey of new publications on Eliot since 1965, appended to Zur Aktualität T.S. Eliots (284).  See also Frank’s disparaging comments on her negative role in Eliot’s German reception in the introduction to T. S. Eliot Criticism and Scholarship (A 28).  Far more damaging than such direct expressions of critical indignation, however, was Frank’s and others’ critics refusal to engage Hesse’s work in a serious analytical manner.  Thus in the 1975 collection of essays Zur Aktualität T.S. Eliots, edited by Frank and Viebrock, Hesse is mentioned only once, in a brief summary of her Waste Land analysis, whose most remarkable feature appears to be her misspelling of John Peter’s name (284).  Similarly, in Holthusen’s 1975 introduction to The Waste Land translation of Ernst Robert Curtius, Hesse’s recent translation and extensive analysis of the poem are resolutely ignored. 

2 ‘Das image, an dem der Dichter selber behutsam mitgebaut hatte, bis es einen Harnisch gegen die Außenwelt abgab, verstellt dem angehenden Leser den Weg and lässt seine Neugier vorzeitig erlahmen’.  Unless otherwise noted, all the translations from German are my own.

3 I need to say more about the ideological function of Murder in the Cathedral: there was, in fact much in the play designed to make it especially viable for young postwar Germans—resistance, matyrdom, etc

4 Grete and Heinrich Schaeder’s book-length study of Eliot was largely devoted to Murder in the Cathedral.  The Schaeders and Hans Egon Holthusen, all of them major postwar advocates of Eliot in Germany, were convinced that the play with its modernist recreation of the medieval understanding of martyrdom would, as I wrote elsewhere, ‘rehabilitate Christianity as an intellectually more viable stance than the “pagan ideologies of the present”’ (Däumer 81).

5 ‘durch die verzweifelte Anarchie einer erkrankten und verirrten Spätkultur hindurch zu den zeitlos gültigen Sinnfiguren des Mythos and der Religion, zu den “grandes clartés premières.” . . .

6 Holthusen’s reference to the ‘heidnischen Ideologien der Gegenwart’ [pagan ideologies of the present] in his early essay ‘Eliot’s Christliche Formel’ (1947-48) reveals  his stunningly uncritical adoption of Eliot’s contested terminology (including the term ‘modern heresies’) and helps to indicate the extent to which postwar German preoccupation with Eliot was suffused by National Socialism’s ideological residues.

7 See above all, her extensive study  Die Achse Avantgarde-Faschismus.  Reflexionen über Filippo Tommaso Marinetti und Ezra Pound (1991) and the ‘Die Literarische Reproduktion des Führerprinzips’ (1995).

8 ‘. . . die Aufschlüsselung praktisch all der schwierigen Verse . . . bei Eliot’.

9 ‘So ist in der Unterhaltung nicht wichtig, was ich gesagt habe, sondern was der andere daran für wichtig hält’. ‘. . . .ein großes und irrationales Potenzial an kreativen Energien beschlossen ist . . .’.

10 ‘. . . die alteingefahrene Vorstellung vom Literarischen durchzumischen’.

11 …eine subjektive Aneignung, die häufig an die Grenzen des bisher Sagbaren in der eigenen Sprache stößt, auf semantische Synapsen sozusagen, die bisher von der Sprache verweigert oder verschwiegen wurden’.

12 ‘ein überaus konfliktreiches Gefühlsleben hinter der esoterischen Assoziationstechnik seiner Dichtung, oder hinter der pedantisch-dogmatischen “Gerechtigkeit” seiner kritischen Strafexpeditionen’.

13 ‘Triebfreiheit in einer Welt der Unterdrückung’.

14  The animus against interpretations purporting to reveal an author’s ‘secret’ is, perhaps, of special significance in postwar Germany, where many had—and continue to have--reason to fear the revelation of ‘secrets’ related to their own or others’ National-Socialist past—revelations  that might lead to finalizing judgments of their person (see for instance the recent revelations of Günter Grass’s service in the Waffen SS).  Such animus is palpable in Frank’s rejection of interpretations that seek to decode a work of art and expose, ‘once and for all’, ‘its real and only motivation’ (Literaturwissenschaft zwischen Extremen 7-8). 

15 In her chapter on the striking parallels between Countess Larisch’s My Past and The Waste Land, Hesse points to Marie Larisch as a ‘double’ of the poem’s narrator who shared his homoerotic leanings (apparent in Marie’s erotic fixation on Kaiserin Sissy) and profound sense of guilt (Das Wüste Land: Eine Analyse 111-112). .  Hesse’s findings on the centrality of Marie Larisch to The Waste Land were also published in the Times Literary Supplement (21 June 1974, 671).

16 ‘Der Übersetzer ist ein Interpret, dem jede Interpretation untersagt ist’.

17 Melopoeia, Phanopoeia, Logopoeia

18 Hesse interestingly revised the usual way of reading this nightmare sequence’s indebtedness to Hermann Hesse’s observation from Blick ins Chaos, which Eliot appended to his footnote:  ‘Schon ist halb Europa, schon ist zumindest der halbe Osten Europas auf dem Weg zum Chaos, fährt betrunken im heiligen Wahn am Abgrund entlang and singt dazu, betrunken und hymnisch wie Dimitri Karamasoff sang. Über diese Lieder lacht der Bürger beleidigt, der Heilige and Seher hört sie mit Tränen’ (CPP 54).   In contrast to most interpreters who identify Eliot with the ‘saints and prophets’ of this passage, Hesse maintains that The Waste Land is itself one of these intoxicated hymns sung on the brink of chaos (Das Wüste Land: Eine Analyse, 106).

19 ‘Ein Singen stimmte an aus leeren Zisternen and löcherigen Brunnen’.

20 In Vom Zungenreden, Hesse recalls how her German translation of Pound’s The Women of Trachis was met with consternation by Carl Zuckmayer, who could not believe that a great poet like Pound would have used such ‘Gossenjargon’ [street language] and who therefore recommended that an ‘echter’ poet undertook the translation (11).

21 Hesse foregrounded the presence of Marie Larisch by translating ‘In the mountains, there you feel free’ (‘Burial of the Dead’ CPP 37) as ‘Auf den Bergen wohnt die Freiheit’, the opening line from a Bavarian folk song prompted by the sudden death of König Ludwig in 1886, whose homosexuality and death by drowning make him a ghostly double of Jean Verdenal (Das Wüste Land: Eine Analyse, 109).  Hesse speculates that Eliot knew about the song from his conversation with Marie Larisch--who was intimately connected with Ludwig’s cousin, Kaiserin Sissy--and integrated it into the opening lines of The Waste Land.  Urged by Suhrkamp, Hesse reluctantly changed ‘Belladonna . . . / Diejenige welche’, which means as much as ‘the one who’ or, more idiomatically, ‘the one you know who’ to ‘die Situationistin’—a term that makes little to no sense in German.  In an email to the author, Hesse expressed her regret about the ‘logopoeic loss’ of “Diejenige welche’ (17 May 2006).

22 ‘Anmutiges Mädchen, Torheit überwand / Dich nur, jetzt gehst Du wieder einsam durch das Zimmer, / Glättest dein Haar mit selbstvergessner Hand / Und spielst am Gramophon ein Tränenlied wie immer’ [Graceful girl, you were only overcome by folly/ now again you resume your lonely pacing through your room/ smoothing your unconsciously and playing on the gramophone a bluesy song as always].

23 Froula diagnoses the poem’s self-division between ‘the passionate, remembering, desiring self—the Lover—and the forbidding, judging, threatening self—the Police’ (168).

24 Curtius’s verdarb mich

25 Curtius’s own sense of having failed at transmitting Eliot to new reader

26 cite Hesse’s letter to Unseld

27 ‘ein tönendes Geheimnis, ein klangvolles Glück’.

28 ‘Echte Kritik will nie beweisen, sie will nur aufweisen’, and ‘Grundakt der Kritik ist irrationaler Kontakt’.

29 ‘Er müßte also die Frage beantworten, wie Eliots Gedichte heute zu lesen sind’.





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