Articles - June 2011

The German Baroness

Else Baroness von Freytag-Loringhoven's German poetry

Elsa von Freytag-Loringhoven, Wheels Are Growing on Rose Bushes, 1921–22, ink on paper, 5 3/4 x 8 3/4 inches. Courtesy Francis M. Naumann Fine Art, New York.

In her “Autobiography,” written in the 1920s in Europe, Baroness Else von Freytag-Loringhoven (1874–1927) reminisces in an associative and expressive style about the first thirty-five years of her life.[1] Her account provides an exact mirror image of the events described in the 1905 novel Fanny Essler by Felix Paul Greve (1879–1948), but with additional details and observations that benefit from hindsight. Greve’s novel ends with the heroine’s death at the precise moment when she would have been rudely awakened by some terrible revelation about her lover. The real-life event was Greve’s arrest for fraud in Bonn in May 1903. The novel’s transparent intertextual references to Flaubert’s Madame Bovary are confirmed in the Baroness’s autobiography: Greve admired the French author to a point that he wanted to be like him.