Gender Debates between Rainer Maria Rilke and Lou Andreas-Salomé

by Dorothee Ostmeier
Gender Debates between Rainer Maria Rilke and Lou Andreas-Salomé
Dorothee Ostmeier
The German Quarterly
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OSTMEIER University of Washington

Gender Debates between Rainer Maria Rilke and Lou Andreas-Salom6

Rilkeand Andreas-Salom6met in 1897, studied and traveled together in Russia in 1899-1900 and participated in the Psy- choanalytical Congress of 1913. Andreas- Salom6 studied with Freud in Vienna in 1912-13 and became a lay analyst. At this time the friendship between Rilke and Andreas-Salom6 cooled but was carried on through a lively exchange of letters1 and texts which, among other topics, rethought and revised Freud's concept of sexuality as developed in Drei Abhandlungen zur Sex~almoral.~

Whereas Freud focuses on the development of infantile sexuality in order to define the origins of neurosis, Rilke and Andreas-Salom6 refer to differ- ent phases of this development in order to define sexual partnership. Examining the relevance of the individual's sexual experi- ence for the partner Rilke and Andreas- Salom6 investigate the potentials of inter- course to conquer andlor to transgress in- dividual difference~. Both authors are driven by the question of whether and how sexuality leads to the construction of a har- monious "we." For Rilke, these questions are intimately linked to linguistic ques- tions about the functions of the personal pronouns "ich," "du" and "wir." Does the pronoun "wir" mediate between first and second person or does it establish an en- tirely new identity? Andreas-Salome fo- cuses on the differentiating and harmoniz- ing capacities of physiological and psycho- logical processes stimulated by sex.

These approaches of both authors--= they are presented in Rilke's poetic texts, in "Liebeslied" from Neue Gedichte, Dui- neser Elegien and their poetic and bio- graphical contexts, and Andreas-Salom6's essays "Drei Briefe an einen Knaben," "Zum Typus Weib," "Anal und Sexual," and "Psy~hosexualitat"~~ontribute

to the destabilization of sexual categories ini- tiated by the extensive pathological studies of physicians in the nineteenth century, and further explored by the late nine- teenth- and early twentieth-century writ- ers, as for example Havelock Ellis and Sigmund Fre~d.~

Freud worked towards a liberation of sex from pathology and moral- istic concerns by outlining the dynamic process of the individual unconscious, but he never clearly worked out the relation- ship among biological characteristics, indi- vidual psychic formations and social inter- personal relation~.~

This opened a space for further investigation as reflected in the exchanges between Rilke and Andreas- Salom6. The letters between the authors unveil their personal friendship as stimu- lus for this debate, although Rilke's poetic and Andreas-Salom6's essayistic work present diverse approaches to sexuality.

In her autobiographical retrospective Lebensriickblick,e Andreas-Salom6 cites her friendship with Rilke asone of the most important motivations for her encounter with Freud's psychoanalysis. She describes it as "Miterleben der Aufierordentlichkeit und Seltenheit des Seelenschicksals eines Einzelnen" (Lr 151). As Ursula Welsch, Michaela Wiesner and Biddy Martin argue, the close friendship with Rilke and the inti- mate experience of his physical and emo- tional tensions stimulate Andreas-Salo-

The German Quarterly 73.3 (Summer 2000) 237

me's study of medicine and psychoanaly- sis.7Whereas Welsch and Wiesner trace the development of Rilke's and Andreas-Salo- me's discussion about a possible psycho- analytical treatment for Rilke, Martin goes a step further and argues that the relation- ship to Rilke was one of the driving forces for Salom6's research on gender difference. Martin writes:

Salom6 was drawn to his sexual arnbigui- ty; Rilke seemed both masculine and femi- nine at once, exemplifying for her the basis of creativity in a primary narcissism and fundamental bisexuality [...I. Though she was his lover, Salom6 was primarily Rilke's anchor, friend, analyst.8

Martin describes Andreas-Salom6's per- ception of Rilke's "bisexuality" and does not address Rilke's critical investigations of his own gendered identity. Both studies fail to note that Rilke and Andreas-Salom6 rarely took issue with each others' theoreti- cal positions regarding gender identity and that Andreas-Salom6's essayistic prose and Rilke's poetry do not reflect the gender con- cepts of their correspondence. The authors' individual fantasies interpret the prelin- guistic or prediscursive experiences of sex differently. This leads to distinct construc- tions of gender identities and their inscrip- tions into what Freud refers to as biologi- cal andlor psychoanalytic facts. Fantasy as the fabricating agency of sex and gender categories undermines the differentiation between sex as nature and gender as cul- ture, as Judith Butler recently argued.g This essay will trace such fantasies at work and will identify a split between the theoretical positions of the authors and their personal perceptions of each other.

Lou Andreas-Salom6 writes about her quickly developing friendship with Rainer Maria Rilke in Lebensriickblick: "Nun wahrte es gar nicht mehr lange, bis Ren6 Maria Rilke zum Rainer geworden war" (Lr 113). Her renaming of Rilke calls atten- tion to a shift in Rilke's signature. He signs his tenth letter to her, dated September 5, 1897, no longer as Ren6 but,= Rainer, changinghis full name from Ren6 Wilhelm Josef Maria Rilke to Rainer Maria Rilke. This clear construct of a gender duality, which marks most of the letters to his friends, is missing in letters to Andreas- Salom6; they are signed with his male name "Rainer." He frees his first name of the exotic feminine connotations1° and distances himself from the Catholic and literary connotations of his middle name "Maria." This biographical fact corresponds to issues raised in Rilke's poetic texts which view the erotic tensions be- tween "I" and "you," "he" and "she" as ob- stacles to individual identity formations. The exploration of these tensions in his Malte novel, in the poem "Liebeslied," and in the first and second elegy culminate in the most explicit poetic distinction be- tween male and female sexuality in the third elegy.

Andreas-Salom6's actual renaming precedes Rilke's novel Die Aufzeichnungen des Malte Laurids Brigge, in which Rilke works through the memory of his mother's manipulative play with his gender iden tity.ll In the novel the mother calls her son Malte "Sophie" and teaches him to play a feminine role. Malte wears dresses and fashions his voice as female. When his mother later suggests that "Sophie" has probably died, Malte insists on the contin- uation of his feminine role-play. In this con- text the name "Sophie" invokes numerous literary and biographical associations: it recalls the name of Novalis's deceased bride "Sophie," whom Novalis cherished and poeticized especially in the third of his Hymnen an die Nacht. Rilke's mother was baptized as "Sophie"12 and his deceased sister went by the same name (Simenauer 639). Similar to Novalis,13 Malte explores the potentials of his imagination and fan- tasy in regard to his sister's death; his mother mourns the loss of her youth. Malte's association and impersonation of these absent female figures-sister and youth--establish secret dialogues with his mother. Malte identifies these intimate en- counters as experiences of the "Wunder- bare" and thus links this romantic concept to the enacted fantasies of gender trans- gression. By encouraging Malte's role play the mother actively designs Malte's physi- cal and imaginary presence according to models of nineteenth-century femininity. She blurs the distinctions between femi- nine and masculine gender identity and obscures Malte's literal and imaginary, non-figurative and figurative self-percep- tions.14 Rilke reflects on these issues of "gender trouble" by designing Malte's fic- tion of the mother. But although he initi- ates these multiple layers of biographical reflectivity in this novel, they do not mas- ter the tensions Rilke personally experi- ences between these realities. On Decem- ber 28, 1911, he expresses in a letter to Andreas-Salom6 his worries about the fu- sion of him and his Malte figure:

Niemand als Du, liebe Lou, kann unter- scheiden und nachweisen, ob und wie weit er [Maltel mir anlich ist. Ob er, der ja zum Theil aus meinen Gefahren ge- macht ist, darin untergeht, gewisserma- fien, um mir den Untergang zu ersparen, oder ob ich erst recht mit diesen Aufzeich- nungen in die Stromung geraten bin, die mich wegreat und hinubertreibt.15

Rilke asks Andreas-Salom6 to evaluate the similarity between himself and his Malte figure. Wondering about the influence of his fictional character on his own biogra- phy, Rilke also traces the conflict between his fictional and literal realities in his ev- eryday social relations:

Wie oft geschieht es mir nicht, da13 ich ge- wissermden als ein Chaos aus meiner Stube trete, draden, von jemandem auf- gefdt, eine Fassung finde, die eigentlich die seine ist und im nachsten Moment, zu meinem Staunen, gut geformte Dinge ausspreche, wihrend doch eben noch al- les in meinem ganzen Bewuljtsein vollig amorph war [...I und in diesem Sinn wer- den die Menschen immer das Falsche fiir mich sein.16

Rilke recognizes that he easily adjusts to the expectations of others. In order not to be consumed by these social interactions he plans to withdraw from society and to confront the chaos of his amorphous con- sciou~ness.~7

Thus Rilke's identity crisis of 1911 is based on a vicious circle: once he escapes from the control of social interac- tions, he is controlled by his own imagi- nary figures, and vice versa. Due to this chaos he moves into the seclusion of the Duino castle, ceases to write novellas, and focuses on the new genre of elegies, start- ing in 1912.18 Here he considers psycho- analytical treatment and asks Andreas- Salom6 for advice. However, in the end he rejects therapy, for fear of losing the capac- ity to write:

Was mich nun betrifft, so schrieb ich Dir schon, da13 ich, gefiihlsmliaig, dieses Auf- geraumtwerden eher scheue und mir, bei meiner Natur, kaum etwas Gutes davon erwarten konnte. Etwas wie eine desinfi- zierte Seele kommt dabei raus, ein Un- ding, ein Lebendiges, roth [sic] korrigiert, wie die Seite in einem Schulheft [...I Ich weil3 jetzt, da13 die Analyse fir mich nur Sinn hatte, wenn der merkwiirdige Hin- tergedanke,nicht mehr zu schreib e n, [...I mir wirklich ernst wiire. [...I Oder ist auch das wieder nur ein Stuck verschlagener Produktivitat, sich gewis- sermafien, einen anderen Menschen, statt innerhalb einer Arbeit, in der eige- nen schabig-gewordenen Haut vorzustel- len von morgen an. 19

Psychoanalytic treatment would interfere with Rilke's personal and literary produc- tivity. Although he does not give up his the- oretical interest in Freud, his literary practice makes a commitment to therapy impossible.

Rilke confronts the problems of negoti- ating one's gender and social identity in various texts. The poem "Liebeslied" from 1907, published in Neue Gedichte, scruti- nizes the tensions between the "I" and "you" of lovers and investigates the impli- cations of the social reality of a "we." It questions whether the autonomy of an in- dividual subject is risked by his~her love en- counter. Here the problems are not yet cast in gendered terms, but they are modified and addressed later in terms of sexuality and gender in the first Duineser Elegien.

"Liebeslied" is framed by questions. A lover addresses the beloved and asks: "Wie soll ich meine Seele halten, dalj / sie nicht an deine riihrt? Wie soll ich sie / hinheben uber dich zu anderen Dingen?" And the poem ends: "Auf welches Instrument sind wir gespannt? / Und welcher Geiger hat uns in der Hand?" (12-13)20 Whereas the first questions ask how to establish a dis- tance between "I" and "you," the last ques- tions accept the loss of distance and ask for the controlling agent of the love relation- ship. They focus on the "we" instead of the "I" and "you," and the speaker accepts that she does pot have any control over the re- lation to the "you." The desire for inde- pendence, for isolation, and for otherness (like the desire of the prodigal son in Malte) is silenced by the reality of the "uns," an ex- perience of a relationship which cannot be controlled. This relationship is not described through literal language. Its con- trol is vaguely called "alles" and is imaged as "Bogenstrich," "Instrument," "Geiger." The "I" and "you" are subjected to it: "Doch alles, was uns anriihrt, dich und mich, / nimmt uns zusammen wie ein Bogenstrich" (9-10). The "uns" can be ex- perienced, but the conditions for its pres- ence are not known. "Auf welches Instru- ment sind wir gespannt? 1 Und welcher Geiger hat uns in der Hand?" (12-13). The poem ends by addressing itself as "Oh sul3es Lied." The theme of love in the title "Liebes-Lied" is redirected to the emphatic realization of the song's own sensuality, of its sound and melody. The poem moves

from the thematization of love to its own perception as song. Love itself can be grasped neither philosophically nor linguistically As Lawrence Ryan recently argued about these "Dinggedichte," "the 'thing' itself9'-in this case love-"tran- scends our perception and is therefore un- knowable."21 In this case it can only be ex- perienced as aesthetic enchantment. The song's queries call semantic furations into question. "I" and "you" as independent agents in the construction of the "uns" are revoked.

Literal and metaphoric languages do not offer any possibility to escape from the experience of the "uns." Instead, they stress the musical pathos of the questions: "Wie soll ich meine Seele halten, dalj / sie nicht an deine rtihrt? Wie soll ich sie / hinheben uber dich zu anderen Dingen?" (1-3) This aesthetic concept of the "uns" ignores gender difference. The later texts, which will be discussed, erase this aes- thetic enchantment from love poetry as soon as issues of sexual difference are stressed. The pronoun "uns" is emptied of its sublime connotations.

In the first of the "Duineser Elegien" (Werke I: 685-881, the harmonious image of the "uns" as the sound of the violin is gone.22 The problem of the "I" is not smoothed over by aesthetic enchantment. But the idea of a string is kept in the more aggressive image of bow and arrow:

1st es nicht Zeit, daR wir liebend uns vom Geliebten befrein und es bebend bestehen: wie der Pfeil die Sehne besteht, um gesammelt im Absprung mehr zu sein als er selbst. Denn Bleiben ist nirgends.


In this reversal of the image of the violinist, the harmony of the two strings is turned into the powerful tension between the bow's arrow and string. The text focuses exclusively on the challenge lovers face in gaining independence from each 0ther.~3

Traditionally, the bow and arrow is as- sociated with Cupid, as his means of caus- ing erotic attraction. In this poem, it is turned into a metaphor for the liberation from such attractions. In fact, the image is condensed: it focuses on the arrow and its capacities to withstand the force of the bow's string. The arrow can overcome the limits of its own gravity only by facing the resistance of the string. This metaphor ab- stracts the love relationship from personal, emotional, psychological or philosophical tensions and describes the process of liber- ation as a mechanical technique of trans- gressing one's own limits by utilizing the resistance of the other.24 The bond posed by the experiences of "wir" and "uns" is seen as a threat to individual identity formation and it evokes the desire for differentiation and separation.25

The second elegy (Werke I: 689-92) de- tects the basis for this crisis among lovers in their perception of their erotic and sen- sual encounter. Here the lover does not ad- dress the beloved, but an interrogating "I" asks for evidence of the existence of the "uns," and slowly subverts the evidences through a series ofcounterarguments. The "I" asks for the connotations and refer- ences of the personal pronoun "uns": "Liebende, euch, ihr einander Geniigten, frag ich nach uns"(44).26 After asking "Habt ihr Beweise"(45) it puts forward a counterargument comparing the touching of oneself with the gestures of love, with "Liebkosungen," and "Umarmungen" of the lovers.

Here, Rilke modifies some of his studies on gestural language in Rodin's sculp- tures. His meditations on Rodin's sculp- ture "The Kiss" underlie his argument:

Eine Hand, die sich auf eines anderen Schulter oder Schenkel legt, gehort nicht mehr ganz zu dem Korper, von dem sie kam: aus ihr und dem Gegenstand, den sie beriihrt oder packt, entsteht ein neues Ding, ein Ding mehr, dm keinen Namen hat und niemandem gehort. (Werke V:


Through gestural contacts individual bod- ies lose their separateness and are unified. The gesture is not emotionalized or psychologized as narcissistic or altruistic pleasure. As a "new thing," it is nameless, and exists in an extra-linguistic sphere, which "Liebeslied" calls "uns" and "wir," and to which it refers only aesthetically by privileging the poem's musical elements over its semantics. Gestural language also revokes "I" and "you" as independent agents in the construction of the "uns." The elegy refers to the individual's self- encounter and asks if an individual exis- tence can be deduced at all from a gestural or sensual contact.

Seht, mir geschiehts, da13 meine Hhde


ime werden oder da13 mein gebrauchtes

Gesicht in ihnen sich schont. Das giebt mir

ein wenig

Empfmdung. Doch wer wagte darum schon

zu sein?


The "I" compares such self-centered ges- tures with the caresses and embraces of lovers, the "sich inne werden" of its hands with the "sich greifen" of the lovers and asks in both cases if the subject identifies itself with its sensual experiences. The "I" asks: "Ihr greift euch. Habt ihr Bewei- se?"(45) It questions the referend of the linguistic signifier "euch" and examines the relevance of the sensual experience to its linguistic expression. Through estab- lishing a referential context for the use of reflexive pronouns, the "I" asks about the status of "Empfindung." It addresses the lovers and contrasts their linguistic self- perception with the experience on which it is based. Asin the Rodin essay, the elegy fo- cuses on the kiss: "Wenn ihr einer dem andern / euch an den Mund hebt und ansetzt-: Getrhk an Getrank: / o wie entgeht dann der Trinkende seltsam der Handlung" (63-65). This metaphoric de- scription identifies four different moments in the kiss: as each partner offers and accepts a drink, both partners lose control over the action. And in these mo- ments one cannot tell whether the experi- enced pleasure is related to a narcissistic self-encounter of each partner or to the process of sharing:27 "o wie entgeht dann der Trinkende seltsam der Handlung" (65). The metaphor for the kiss is compli- cated: the personal pronoun "euch" is im- aged as "Getriink," but it functions also as reflexive pronoun. This metaphorization empowers the pronoun. Asa controlling force, it frees the partners of their individ- ual boundaries. But this action is only de- scribed negatively and vaguely. The indi- vidual is consumed by hisher pleasure. Positive references of this action are ob- sc~red.~~

The second elegy disqualifies sensual eroticism from giving evidence of the "euch." The question about the refer- ences of the pronoun leads to the loss of the object of the question, of the "euch" and the "uns" in the sentence: "euch, ihr aneinander Genugten, frag ich nach uns." These pronouns are emptied of their se- mantic references. Their aesthetic conno- tations evoked in "Liebes-Lied" are now radically called into question. As "empty" signs they are non-referential with respect to "reality,"29 and they disillusion all con- ventional associations and fantasies about social unity in sexual partnership.

Rilke's mistrust in the conventional references of the pronouns is further ex- plored in the third elegy which Otto Friedrich Bollnow calls "ein psychoana- lytisches Lehrgedicht."30 It was written around 1912-13 in Duino and Paris dur- ing and after the time of Rilke's rejection of psychoanalytic treatment. This elegy (Werke I: 693-96) deconstructs all idealis- tic concepts of partnerships. And whereas the discussion of "I," "you" and "we" in "Liebeslied" and in the earlier elegies is not sexualized, the third elegy sets up a split between male and female sexuality and ex- amines the intersection of gender with sex- uality.

Mother and girl are stereotypically

QUARTERLY Summer 2000

called "fuhlend," "leicht," "heimlich," "freundlich," "menschlich," "ziirtlich," and in their relation to son or lover they are identified as naive. The mother's nurtur- ing distracts the son from the threatening "Finsternis" and "Chaos" of his uncon- scious.

Nicht in die Finsternis, nein, in dein niiheres Dasein hast du das Nachtlicht gestellt, und es schien wie am Freundschaft. Nirgends ein Knistern, das du nicht lachelnd erklwest, so als wiiatest du langst, wann sich die Diele benimmt.. .


As a figure of enlightenment the mother conceals the son's access to the unknown. Rationalizing the child's fear she is es- tranged from the fear's origin and re- stricted to her own subjective desire to nurture. Scenes which were consoling for Malte, such as the mother's visit at night (Werke VI: 797-98), are now considered a distraction. And while the girl imagines herself the source for the lover's attrac- tion, she functions for him only as catalyst for his homoerotic desires.

Meinst du wirklich, ihn hatte dein leichter AuRritt also erschuttert, du, die wandelt wie Mwind? Zwar du erschrakst ihm das Herz; doch iiltere Schrecken sturzten in ihn bei dem beriihrenden Anstos.


Rilke plays with the connotations of the word "erschuttern:" that what appears superficially as attraction is revealed as shock and fright. The male lover is charac- terized as "furchterlich," "verstrickt," "wiirgend," and "tierhaft." Mythologized as "schuldiger FluS-Gott des Blutes" or as "des Blutes Neptun" the Yungling" is driven by forces which are unknown to himself.

was weia er selbst von dem Hem der Lust, der aus dem Einsarnen OR, ehe das Machen noch linderte, OR auch als wiire sie nicht, ach, von welchem Unkenntlichen triefend, dasGotthaupt auf%ob, aufrufend die Nacht zu unend- lichem Aufruhr. Oh des Blutes Neptun, o sein furchtbarer Dreizack.


The narcissistic entanglement with his own unconscious disqualifies the 'Xing- ling" from any self-analysis. The elegy lo- cates the sources for the mythological threat of the male chaos in the processes of procreation and links the mythological to a physiological vocabulary. Rilke avoids Freudian terminology, but he is perhaps more biologically concise here than in any other text.

[...I Liebend stieg er hinab in das liltere Blut, in die Schluchten, wo das Furchtbare lag, noch satt von den Vatern. Und jedes Schreckliche kannte ihn, blinzelte, war wie

verstiindigt. Ja, das Entsetzliche lachelte ...Selten hast du so zlirtlich gelachelt, Mutter. Wie

sollte er es nicht lieben, da es ihm lachelte. Vor dir hat ers geliebt, denn, da du ihn trugst schon, war es im Wasser gelost, das den Keimen- den leicht macht.


The mythologized gender conflict is in- serted into physiological relations. Male lovers foster a desire for their prenatal ex- istence, and especially to the physical pres- ence of the father in the process of procre- ation. The bodies of mother and beloved mediate between son and father. When the male body liquifies in the moment of procreation31 each male is driven by the desire to re-connect homoerotically to his male heritage.32 Rilke turns to these pre- natal processes in order to determine sex- ual differences and he distinguishes men from women through the different rela- tionship to their prenatal existence. Ig- noring female sexual desires, the elegy ad- dresses the beloved as animator and as catalyst for the male to re-establish his male heritage. Thus, the elegy introduces the beloved girl to her partner's alienation from her and opens up the abyss between their sexes. Men exploit heterosexual partnerships in order to gain access to their paternal roots.

In each of the texts discussed thus far, Rilke turns the search for male and female identity to the various aspects of love rela- tionships, the relationships between son and mother and between lovers in general. These searches examine the semantic ref- erences of the unifying pronoun "wir9'/ "euch" and they ask if a shared identity be- tween individuals can exist. "Liebes-Lied" confirms the empirical "wir" and demon- strates how it vigorously subjugates the in- dividual. The "wir" cannot be conceptual- ized, and turns into an aesthetic concept. The elegies link linguistic and sexual cate- gories. Whereas the first and the second el- egy dismiss the conventional references of "euch," the third elegy explores the rea- sons for these charges. It emphasizes the tensions between sensual experiences and their linguistic expressions. It warns mother and beloved of their delusions about son and lover. "Siehe wir lieben nicht wie die Blumen, aus einem / einzigen Jahr, uns steigt, wo wir lieben, /unvordenklicher Saft in die Arme" (65-67).For the male lover, erotic relationships arouse a baing memory of the past which seems to be engrained in his body. Since it cannot be grasped theoretically, it must be erotically activated. The vigor of this memory dis- tracts from interpersonal relationships and leads men to bond with their male heri- tage. The woman, however, remains naive about this physical deception: "Und du

selber, was weil3t du-, du locktest 1Vorzeit empor in dem Liebenden" (7f3-77). As in "Liebeslied," the linguistic concepts of "wir"/"euch" suggest a unity between the sexes which the elegies reveal as flawed. The third elegy realizes that sexual rela- tionships are exploitative: men exploit fe- male eroticism in order to establish their own identity as a male "wir." They live up to their fantasies about women but destabilize them at the same time. These fantasies of the female other as "reines Gesicht," "fuhlendes Madchen," "Friih- wind," and "freundliche Welt" recall the romanticized gender constructs of Malte's mother. But this concept of femininity is clearly undermined by male sexual ecstasy which directs its devotion to father figures. The fathers are portrayed as "das zahllos Brauende," as "Triimmer Gebirgs," and as "lautlose Landschaft unter dem wolkigen oder reinen Verhangnis." They precede all figurations, and as representatives of a pre- or postlinguistic sphere they are privi- leged over all culturally constructed gen- der identities, especially the female iden- tit~.3~

The feminine role is perceived as culturally stabile. The civilizing mother frustrates the desires of her son and only the female lover grants him the possibility to overcome the mother's oppressive cul- tural constraints. Men liberate themselves from the oppressive female culture through regression to patriarchal potency. With this inscription of homoerotic into heterosexual desires Rilke offers a very ec- centric version of Freud's approach to sex- uality in his Abhandlungen. Through ab- straction from the female sexual desire and his stress on male sexuality he establishes a gender-sex dichotomy. Only men gain ac- cess to their preoedipal and prediscursive heritage. Rilke deviates from Freud's dis- tinctions of the preoedipal as the oral, and anal phases by focussing only on the phal- lic. Here he anticipates the primacy of the phallus which Freud introduces much later in his 1923 revision of the Drei Abhandlungen zur Sexualtheorie in Die

infantile Genitalorganisation.

In contrast to Rilke, Lou Andreas- Salom6 does not ignore female sexuality. She argues that also the female perception of the sexual partner is controlled by a memory of the preoedipal phase, but in this case it is the memory of the harmonious oral phase which precedes the subject for- mation. In fact, women have a much more intimate relationship to this period of in- fantile development than men.

Throughout her work-in texts which she wrote before and during her studies of psychoanalysis-she interprets the psy- chological and spiritual implications of ova and spermato~oa.~~

Criticizing the simple dichotomy of female sexuality as passive and male sexuality as aggressive and ac- tive, she interprets the ova as simulta- neously active and passive. And wherever Freud focuses on male sexuality Andreas- Salome stresses female sexuality.

For the purpose of my argument I will first highlight the most radical paragraphs in which she argues against Freud's judg- ments of women's sexuality as less "konse- quent," as "zugiinglich," and as "Ruckbil- dung,"35 or as "Pervertier~ng."~6

Whereas the male psyche is always torn between ego- and object- libido, women integrate these two drives and experience "Gluck," which is reserved solely for them. "Nun liegt es mir eigentlich ferner, von Tugen- den und Leistungen zu reden, als von dem, worin ich mich kompetenter fuhle: vom Gluck" ("ZTW" 94). Andreas-Salom6 points towards an experience which is missing in Freud's analysis. Freud admits that "das [Liebeslebenl des Weibes zum Teil infolge der Kulturverkummerung, zum anderen Teil durch die konventionelle Verschwiegenheit und Unaufrichtigkeit der Frauen in ein noch undurchdringliches Dunkel gehullt ist."3I Andreas-Salom6 calls this "obscurity" "Gluck." She appro-

priates Freud's analytical results but re- verses their logic: women integrate sexual- ity and spirituality whereas men separate them; women solve inner paradoxes, whereas men are exposed to contradic- tions:

Indem die Kraft der Mannheit als sexuell und geistig in Gegensatzen auseinanders- tiebt, oder aber sich selbst Konkurrenz macht, gibt sie ihre unmittelbare Glucks- gemeinschaft in sich auf; in dern der Mann als Leistender sich nachjagt, ver- liert er sich als Selbstbesitzender-wie er schon im Dienst der Fortpflanzung ver- liert was er besitzt. ("ZTW" 95)

Men either strive for sexual satisfaction or they project their "Ich Ideal" on to the es- tablishment of their own social status. Ego libido and object libido exclude each other and are directed towards external objects. Here Andreas-Salome identifies the iden- tity crises-which Rilke had addressed in his letter to her in 1912--clearly as a male predicament. Women's sexuality is more complex because women activate object- and ego libido simultaneously, and these are not in competition with each other: "der passiv gerichtete Sexualtrieb kann sichdern hinhalten, was dern Ichtrieb das fordernd Hochste erscheint" ("ZTW" 95). Women incorporate the processes of sub- limati~n~~

into their sexual relationships and unite energies which are irreconcil- able for Freud. Andreas-Salom6 reintro- duces idealistic concepts of spirituality, meaning, and self into the debate about sexuality:

so steckt dahinter doch nicht mehr oder weniger als folgende Leistung: den geisti- gen Sinn des Erlebten dort am geistigsten zu fassen, wo er am korperhaftesten zuge- deckt, am psychisch undeutbarsten bleibt, und so der eigenen Grundeinheit am gewissesten zu werden dort, wo sie am abgriindigsten schwankt. ("ZTW" 99)

In regard to men, the term "Leistung" re- fers to social establishment; in regard to women, it refers to the construction of spiritual identity. While sex agitates indi- vidual physical and psychological confine- ments, women are able to decipher the ba- sis for this experience. They gain access to a meaning of intercourse inaccessible to men.39 But this meaning is hidden and tied to past experiences of an original to- tality. Only sexual ecstasy can open up this memory:

Dieses Vergeistigen und Idealisieren in seiner Unwillkurlichkeit lUt sich veran- lasst denken dadurch, da, dern weib- lich-einheitlichen Wesen nach, in den ijbertragungen der Liebe lebenslang de- ren ursprunglicher Ausdruck fuhlbarer gegenwiirtig bleibt als dern Mann-jene uranfangliche Verschmelzung mit dern Ganzen darin wir ruhten, ehe wir selber uns gegeben waren und die Welt in Ein- zelgestaltungen vor uns aufg-ing. ("ZTW" 99)

Lovemaking evokes the involuntary mem- ory of a total unity which precedes the splits, abysses and dualities of subject for- mation.

This unity has very different connota- tions in the course of Andreas-Salome's various texts. The early text "Der Mensch als Weib"40 from 1899 idealizes woman in contrast to men as a unity per se, as "personlich gewordenes Sprachrohr des Allebens" ("DMaW" 36), as "grol3e Stille und Sammlung," and as "in sich fried- vollere, intaktere, selbstherrlichere Welt" ("DMaW" 41). On a metaphoric level the female body is perceived as fabulous castle with "Schaetze(n)," "Gemaecher(n)" ("DMaW" 28), "goldene(n) Tore(n)," "fest- liche(n) Wege(n)"("DMaWn 18) deviating sharply from the mechanisms of male sex- uality ("DMaW" 17). Althoughmen are de- pendent on women, the women remain in- dependent of them. As Biddy Martin dem- onstrates, Andreas-Salom6 attempts in this essay "to avoid both the conservative bourgeois feminist negation of women's

sexuality and 'equality arguments' at the same time."41

The text "Zum Typus Weib"(1913) nar- rows the broad concept of gender differ- ence. It focuses on intercourse as a special stimulus for female perception. The woman understands what unifies the sex- ual partners beyond their personal bound- aries: "daR sie in ihm erkennt, was sie mit ihm gewissermden iiber die Person hin- aus eint" ("ZTW" 100). Here it is not the woman per se who has access to the inter- personal harmony. Only in the moments of sexual ecstasy are women able to trans- gress sexual differences. In the later text, "Anal und Sexual," Andreas-Salome calls this process of sublimation "Umsetzung menschlicher Blutwiirme in Geistesgestalt."42 She no longer genders this issue. She describes the ecstasy of intercourse as "ratselhafte Geheimchiffre der Einheit"43 (an enigmatic and concealed puzzle of unity), and addresses the sexual central- ization ofall partial drives as "Hohelied der Liebe"44 and as celebration of all senses. These metaphoric hyperboles expose aper- spective which Andreas-Salome had de- scribed earlier as female perception. She imposes this feminine perspective on to sexual experience in general and defines all other sexual interactions, solely based on object cathexis, as undeveloped, dull, crip- pled and anal.45 These interactions ignore the individual partner and are reduced to partial arousals. The earlier text "Zum Typus Weib" characterizes such interac- tions solely as male, and in her novel "Fenitschka," Fenia reacts to it with "inde- scribable disgust and scorn."46

With these characterizations of inter- course, Andreas-Salome attempts to rec- oncile at least two issues: in the tradition of Freud, she views sexual ecstasy as revival of the original harmony between mother and child and/or of the harmony in the child's autoeroticism. But she also focuses on the interaction between the partners and on their experience of togetherness, an experience which she calls "ratselhafte Geheimchiffre." This threefold hyperbolic encoding fuses two concepts of harmony and brings together what Rilke and Freud separate when they ignore female sexual- ity. For Andreas-Salome the constitution of the social subject of the "we" does not threaten the individual identity. In "Anal und Sexual" she writes:47

Denn auf dem sexuellen Hohepunkt spielt fur unser bewuRtseinsbetaubtes Verlangen nichts mehr eine Rolle als die moglichst unbehinderte Illusion gegen- seitiger Durchdrungenheit; die Momen- tekstase des Geschlechtsaktes hebt den andern gewissermaen auf, und indem Liebende wieder "zu sich" kommen, wird ihnen der Partner-als ein wieder klein wenia distanzierter 4eutlich als Jemand


fur sich und von selbstiindiger Lebendig- keit.48

Andreas-Salome is aware of and commit- ted to the illusionary effects of sexual ec- stasy. Whereas Rilke calls such experi- ences into question and replaces them by male fictions of fusion with the paternal heritage, Andreas-Salome accepts the fan- tasies of the interpersonal "wir" as con- crete experiences. Her perception of sex- ual ecstasy integrates fictional and literal realities, while Rilke differentiates be- tween them in order to object to the experi- ence of a heterosexually shared identity of the "we." When he later poses the homo- erotic unity with the paternal heritage he ironically ignores its fictional status. By in- troducing fantasy as the fabricating agency of gender identity, Andreas-Salome antici- pates concepts which branches of contem- porary feminist theory explore further. Dif- ferent individual interpretations of the extra-linguistic bodily encounter signify the fluidity of the gender categories which therefore can be appropriated by arbitrary individual interests, desires, or ideals.

As argued earlier, between 1899 and 1914 Andreas-Salome changes her approach to sexuality: with the early essay "Der Mensch als Weib" she develops a "radical model of the feminine to counter the dominant hierarchical priviledging of the male pervasive duality of 'femininity' and 'mas~ulinity'."~~

In the later essays she perceives sexuality as a means to overcome this duality. Rilke, in contrast, starts out to examine critically the conditions of a unity and later in the third elegy argues for a cut- ting gender duality. We face an interesting reversal: whereas Andreas-Salom6 in her later texts views sexuality as the undoing of sexual difference, Rilke insists on this difference. He questions the references of the conventional signifier "uns," and does not trust language to represent the human experience. Andreas-Salom6 is not trou- bled by the limits of language and accepts the incomprehensibility of the "we:"

Anstatt der gleichsam wiitenden Identi- tat mit ihm, die alles in sich komprimiert, lost sich dann diese ratselhafte Geheim- chiffre der Einheit, in die einzelnen aus- fiihrlicheren Liebesbezogenheiten, in denen sie zwar nur noch indirekt be- schrieben, aber dafiir verstiindlicher arti- kuliert, zu Worte k~mmt.~'

The extralinguistic exprience cannot be directly captured by language, and it dis- solves as soon as it is articulated.

In order to construct a gender identity, Rilke and Andreas-Salom6 interpret the experience of sexual ecstasy and relate it to processes of involuntary memories. Both authors are aware that the sexual experi- ence is not directly representable. An- dreas-Salom6's term "Geheimschiffre" re- fers to its double closure. Rilke refers to the memory of a prenatal gendered identity and Andreas-Salom6 to a pre-oedipal transgendered harmony. Her approach shifts. She presents the memories of child- hood as links to a transsexual and trans- gendered identity of the "wir" and "Euch" and she ties the process of remembering to the constitution of a new social entity, an entity which Freud as well asRilke call into question. Thus sexual difference leads to the erasure of two sexualities, to an an- drogynous union of sexual energies and to the life-affirming social reality of the

"wir."51 Rilke is much more critical of the referential capacities of language. For him, the male partner uses the ecstasy of inter- course to reconnect homoerotically with his male heritage. Intercourse does not overcome sexual differences. The compari- son of these two approaches indicate that the individual concepts of gender depend on the interpretation of prenatal or infan- tile experiences on one hand and on the ex- periences of intercourse on the other. These interpretations link two extra-lin- guistic events by inserting the authors' ar- bitrary fantasies. In our context these fan- tasies also reflect the biographical encoun- ter of both authors.

Andreas-Salom6's Lebensriickblick, written in 1931-32 and published posthu- mously in 1951, projects her concept of in- terpersonal unity on to the time with Rilke before 1901, which she describes as "zwei- sames Ineinanderleben," as "raunen des Unfdbaren in beiden gemeinsam" (Lr 139). She points to "jene Stille und Selbst- versthdlichkeit, die uns aneinander schlol3 wie etwas, das immerdar gewesen" (Lr 138). During this time she calls herself his wife. The shared experiences cannot be described: "Man hatte das uns Gemein- same daran niemandem schildern kon- nen" (Lr 141-42). Language does not have access to this unconscious or preconscious relationship and she regrets not being able to comprehend Rilke's poetry (see Lr 140). Interestingly, she makes a point of men- tioning her excitement when Rilke once sent her a postcard without text.

This harmony was disrupted by Rilke's emerging commitment to his poetic pro- duction during their trips to Russia.

Ohne Zweifel steckt ja, zutiefst gesehen, in allem Kunstvorgang ein Stiick solcher Gefahr, solcher Nebenbuhlerschaft zum Leben: fiir Rainer noch unberechenbar geghrlicher, weil seine Veranlagung da- rauf gerichtet war, lyrisch das fast Unaus- sprechbare zu bewdtigen. (Lr 115)

As a rival of life his writing competes with the shared experiences of the "UnfaI3ba- re," "Stille," and "Unaussprechbare." Re- calling definitions of maleness from "Zum Typus Weib" Andreas-Salom6 writes:

Mir war das ohne Leistung in den SchoS gefallen, was Dich um Deiner Leistung willen in allen Tiefen aufgerissen [...I die Wucht Deiner inneren Problematik ria mich zu Dir hin [...IUnd doch-und doch: ria es mich nicht zugleich von Dir fort? aus jener Wirklichkeit Deiner Anrange, in der wir wie von einer Gestalt gewesen wa- ren. Wer ergriindet das Dunkel der letz- ten Ferne und Ntihe voneinander! In je- nem sorgend inbriinstigen Nahesein bei Dir stand ich dennoch aul3erhalb dessen, was Mann und Weib ineinanderschlieat, und nie mehr wurde das fur mich anders. (Lr 146)

The interpersonal conflict is based on the male tension between object- and ego-li- bido. This later text applies her theoretical model of gender difference from 1914 to her relationship to Rilke. There she ar- gues: "in dem der Mann als Leistender sich nachjagt, verliert er sich als Selbst- besitzender" ("ZTW" 95). The literal cor- respondences between the texts from 1914and 1931-32 demonstrate that Rilke is in- scribed into Andreas-Salom6's debates about gender and that he functions as a model for her concept of maleness in the earlier text. Later, as we have seen, she re- jects this kind of male narcissism in "Anal und Sexual."

Rilke and Andreas-Salom6 decided in 1901 to break off their relationship not only by ceasing to live together but also by disrupting their habit of "Allesmiteinanderteilens," and to their correspondence "es sei denn in der Stunde hijchster Not" (Lr 147). In 1903 with his first letter to Andreas-Salom6, Rilke refers to this agree- ment. After they meet again in 1905Andreas-Salom6 writes:

Von unserm Pfingsten an las ich, was Du schufst, nicht nur mit Dir, ich empfing es und bejahte es wie eine Aussage iiber Dei- ne Zukunft, die nicht aufzuhalten war. Und hieran wurde ich noch einmal Dein, auf eine zweite Weise-in einem zweiten Magdtum. (Lr 148)

Physical closeness is exchanged for liter- ary closeness which letters call "Zuriick- und Her-denken" (Briefwechsel 307), "in Gedanken begleiten" (Briefwechsel 3261, "soganz bei Deinen Worten und mit ihnen ganz allein [sein]" (Briefwechsel332). The letters indicate that Andreas-Salom6 al- ways argues from the perspective of hope for a unity, perhaps most expressively, in a letter from 24 June 1914:

Und ich mochte immer weiter und weiter schreiben, und sagen und sagen,-nicht weil ich vie1 wiiRte, nur weil ich (wenn auch ganz anders als Du, und nur weil man als Weib dort irgendwie angesiedelt ist) Deine Herztone, diese tiefen, neuen, durch mein ganzes Wesen hore. (Brief- wechsel333)

Andreas-Salome projects her concept of a transgendered and transpersonal harmony on to her relationship to Rilke and thus anticipates her theories of 1916. In his response Rilke acknowledges Andreas-Salome's view but rejects it:

Liebe Lou, Du weiRt und begreifst; konnt ich's nur von dir aus sehen eine Sekunde, so, wie ich Dir's glaube, der einsehende Andere sein, ich kame gestarkt in meine Verstrickungen zuriick, die unabsehba- ren, so weiter vorbereiteten. (Briefwech- sel336)

He points to the clash between his psycho- logical reality and her harmonizing fic- tionalization of it, realizing his alienation from her perspective. Consistent with his

earlier poetic elaborations he calls An- dreas-Salomb's constructs of a trans-personal and transgendered identity--of a "wir" and "euch"-into question, insist- ing on the difference between Andreas- Salomb's and his own constructions of male and female identities and interper- sonal dialogue. This leads to a paradoxical relationship: Rilke and Andreas-Salomb explore and project their individual theo- retical views on each other but each rejects them. This process of projection and rejec- tion becomes the attraction of their ongo- ing dialogue in letters.


lErnst Pfeiffer, ed., Rilke Andreas-Salome' Briefwechsel (Frankfurt a.M.: Insel, 1979). Most of Lou Andreas-SalomB's letters to Rilke are lost. All further references to this work will appear as Briefwechsel.

2Rilke was probably familiar with most of Freud's texts since he lived with Freud's pub- lisher Hugo Heller in Vienna 1907. (See Erich Simenauer, Rainer Maria Rilke. Legende und Mythos [Bern: Haupt, 19531 133.) He discusses psychoanalytical issues with Dr. von Gebsattel, the psychiatrist of his wife, in the winter of 1907-08 in Paris (Simenauer 134). And he considers in letters to Lou Andreas-SalomB whether he should commit to psychoanalytic therapy himself. Lou Andreas-SalomB studied Freud's texts intensely before she became a student of his in Vienna in 1911 and before working herself as a therapist. In her texts she redesigns some of Freud's theories focussing especially on the role of the woman. Simenauer argued already in 1953 that the context of psy- choanalysis has to be taken into account for the discussion of Rilke's texts. Simenauer not only points to thematic parallels, but also views the associative structure of the elegies in the con- text of Freud's metapsychological studies. In the elegies the "I" gains again its voice which was mostly removed from Neue Gedichtebecause of their concern about the "Ding." Simenauer calls the monologic structure of the elegies "die der psychoanalytischen Situation gemse Ausdrucksform" (136).

3Inge Weber and Brigitte Rempp published an excellent collection of Andreas-Salome's texts about psychoanalysis. Inge Weber and Brigitte Rempp, eds., Lou Andreas-Salome': Das zweideutige Lticheln der Erotik: Texte zur Psychoanalyse (Freiburg: Kore, 1990). This edition includes the following texts: "Drei Briefe an einen Knaben" (1913); "Zum Typus Weib" (1913) (all further references will ap- pear as "ZTW"); "Anal und Sexual" (1914); "Psychosexualitat" (1915); "NarziSmus als Doppelrichtung" (192 1).

4See, e.g., Klaus Muller, Aber in meinem Herzen sprach eine Stimme so laut: Homo- sexuelle Autobiographien und medizinische Pathographien im 19. Jahrhundert (Berlin: Winkel, 1991); Jeffrey Weeks, Sex, Politics & Society: The Regulation of Sexuality since 1800, 2nded. (London: Longman, 1989).

5Weeks 152-56. 6Ernst Pfeiffer, ed., Lou Andreas-Salome' Lebensruckblick (Frankfurt a.M: Insel, 1977)

113. All further references will appear as Lr.

7Ursula Welsch and Michaela Wiesner, Lou Andreas-Salome'. Vom "Lebensgrund" zur "Psychoanalyse" (Munchen: Verlag Internationale Psychoanalyse, 1988). Biddy Martin,

Woman and Modernity: The (Life)Styles ofLou Andreas-Salome' (Ithaca: Cornell Up 1991).

8Martin 40-41.

gJudith Butler, "Gender Trouble, Feminist Theory, and Psychoanalytic Discourse," FeminismlPostmodernism, ed. Linda J. Nicholson (New York: Routledge, 1990) 324-40.

1OIn spoken French there are no differ- ences between "RenB" and "Renee."

llFor a thorough study of the relationship between "Sehenlernen, Erinnern und Versuch des Erziihlens" see Judith Ryan, "'Hypothe- tisches Erzahlen': Zur Funktion von Phan- tasie und Einbildung, in Rilke's Malte Laurids Brigge," Jahrbuch der deutschen Schiller- gesellschaft 15 (1971): 202-230.

12Stefan Schank, Kindheitserinnerungen im Werk Rainer Maria Rilkes: Eine biogra- phisch-literaturwissenschaftliche Studie, ed. Karl Richter, Gerhard Sauder and Gerhard Schmidt-Henkel (St. Ingbert: Rohrig, 1995)


IsChristina von Braun, "Zur Bedeutung der Sexualbilder im rassistischen Antisemitismus," Judische Kultur und Weiblichkeit in der Moderne, ed. Inge Stephan, Sabine Schilling, and Sigrid Weigel (Koln: Bohlau, 1994) 35.

14That which inspires the child's sense for wonder causes confusion for the adult. Malte has to write about the mother's fantasies of him as a daughter and about all of her stories in order to establish himself as son. Michael F. Davis does not address this liberating aspect of the writing when he argues that the main char- acter's crisis with modernist culture leads him to gain access to his mother's language, which replaces his own capacities to write and to speak. Michael F. Davis, "Writing the Mother in The Notebooks ofMalte Laurids Brigge: The Rhetoric of Abjection," The Germanic Review

LXVIII.4 (1993): 156-66. 15Briefwechsel 238. IsBriefwechsel 244. 17This identity crisis is addressed in all

variations throughout his correspondence with Andreas-SalomB. On June 26, 1914 he writes:

Ich bin auch so heillos nach auSen ge-

kehrt, darum auch zerstreut von allem,

nichts ablehnend, meine Sinne gehn,

ohne mich zu fragen, zu allem Storenden

uber, ist da ein Gerausch, so geb ich mich

auf und bin dieses Gerausch, und da alles

einmal auf Reiz eingestellte, auch gereizt

sein will, so will ich im Grunde gestort

sein und bins ohne Ende. [...I drauljen ist

immer die gleiche Preisgegebenheit."


lgThis relationship between identity and language crisis recalls the crises of Hofmanns- thal's Chandos letter. See Egon Schwarz, "Hugo von Hofmannsthal und Rainer Maria Rilke," Rilke-Rezeptionen Rilke Recondidered, ed. Sigrid Bauschinger and Susan L. Cocalis (Tiibingen: Francke, 1995) 15-26.

1gBriefwechsel 250 and 252, 253.

20Rilke Werke, ed. Rilke-Archiv in Verbin- dung mit Ruth Sieber-Rilke (Frankfurt a.M.: Insel, 1955) 482. All further references to this edition will appear in the text as Werke.

21Lawrence Ryan, "Rilke's Dinggedichte: The 'Thing' as 'Poem in Itself ,"Bauschinger and Cocalis 31.

22My discussion of the elegies focuses on the tensions between sexual differences. I do not address their more abstract topics, for ex- ample their philosophy of figuration. See Paul de Man, "Tropes," Allegories of Reading (New Haven: Yale UE: 1979) 49.

23Jacob Steiner, who interprets the Elegies most extensively, does not analyze the implica- tions of this imagery. Jacob Steiner, Rilkes Duineser Elegien (Munchen: Francke, 1962).

24The gender implications of the imagery suggests also the following reading: This love is not only conceptualized as liberation from the beloved but also as liberation from gendered relationships. The first part of the sentence suggests the liberation of a female lover from the male beloved ("vom Gelieb- ten"), and the simile of the second part suggests the liberation of a male ("der Pfeil") from a female lover ("die Sehne"). Both lovers need to be freed from conventional roles in hetero- sexual relationships in order to gain their inde- pendence.

25These poetic elaborations are closely linked to biographical experiences. A few weeks after finishing the first elegy, Rilke, in a letter to Lou Andreas-SalomB, portrays his wife Clara as the lover who lost her identity in her relationship with him. Clara had asked him for a divorce. He writes:

Es ist nichts Boses zwischen uns, aber sie geht doch gewissermden als meine Frau mit falscher Aufschrift herum, ist nicht mit mir und kommt doch uber mir zu nichts anderem. Das ist seltsam: unser Verhaltnis bestand darin, da13 sie mich unendlich restlos bejahte, acceptierte, und dann wieder, wenn sie merkte, wie vie1 absolut Fremdes, ja Feindsiiliges sie da mit unterschrieben hatte, in Ableh- nung verfiel. Sucht man dahinter nach ihr, nach dem, was sie seit der Madchen- zeit geworden ist, so findet sich, [...I nichts Greifbares, nichts als diese ab- wechselnde Funktion des Mich-einneh- mens und Mich-ausscheidens . . ." (February 7,1912). (Briefwechsel259)

26Jacob Steiner also addresses the question of the "uns," but does not consider the possibil- ity that "uns" refers solely to the two lovers when he writes: "Dann wiederholt sich die Frage nach uns, nach unserem Sein und dem Dauern nach ihm" (Steiner 49-50).

271n his interpretation of these lines Jacob Steiner concentrates on the relevance of this exchange for the individual and not for the shared experience when he says:

Und eben darin verliert er das Md des Abstands (IV77) und die Beherrschung seiner selbst; denn als Getrank ist er ins Passive verlegt, wird aus dem Becher sei- ner selbst geleert und hat nicht mehr die Kraft der Ruckkehr in sich selbst wie die

Engel. (Steiner 51)

28Access to a harmonized humanity which Rilke genders as neutral and calls "ein reines, verhaltenes, schmales Menschliches,"(Werke

I: 692) remains a utopian desire. In the ninth elegy the ideal is only present as the demand: "Menschliches miissen" (Werke I: 71 7).

29Cf. Emile Benveniste, "The Nature of Pronouns," Problems in General Linguistics (Coral Gables: U of Miami E: 1971) 219.

300tto Friedrich Bollnow, Rilke (Stuttgart: Kohlhammer, 1951) 65. For a critique of this approach, see Steiner 55.

31This relationship of the male to his body can serve as a counterexample to the conven- tions of stereotyping female bodies as "floods," "oceans," "morass," "slime" as Klaus Thewe- leit demonstrates in Male Fanatasies, tr. Ste- phen Conway, (Minneapolis: Minnesota UE: 1987).

32Jacob Steiner interprets "Wasser" only as "Fruchtwasser" and not as sperm (Steiner 66).

33In a note to Lou Andreas-Salome dated June 8,1914 Rilke is more radical, and disqual- ifies not only the girl's but any lover's support of him. Expressions-as for example "un- mittelbar," "rein," "unbeirrt," "Liebesstrahl," which are associated with the beloved in the third elegy-are no longer gendered. Rilke ad- mits his male sadism towards any such lover:

[Slo bleib ich nun, nach diesen Monaten Leidens, ganz anders gerichtet zuriick: einsehn miissend diesmal, d& keiner mir helfen kann, keiner; und kame er mit dem berechtigsten, unmittelbarsten Herzen und wiese sich aus bis an die Sterne hinan und ertriige mich, wo ich mich noch so schwer und steif mache, und behielte die reine, die unbeirrte Richtung zu mir, auch wenn ich ihm zehnmal den Liebesstrahl breche mit der Triibe und Dichte meiner Unterwasser-Welt-:ich wiirde doch (das we8 ich nun) ein Mittel finden, ihn in der ganzen Fiille seiner immer neu nachwachsenden Hiilfe bloSzustellen, ihn in den Bereich luftleerer Lieblosigkeit ein- zuschlieflen, sod& sein Beistand, unan- wendbar, an ihm selber iiberreif wird und welk und schrecklich abgestorben. (Brief- wechsel 322)

34Andreas-Salome wrote a review of Wil- helm Bolsche's Das Liebesleben in der Natur: Eine Entwicklungsgeschichte der Liebe (Leip- zig: Friedrichs, 1898-1903) and took issue with Haeckel's Darwinism and his reduction of woman to her reproductive function and ma- ternity, in her essay "Der Mensch als Weib." Biddy Martin discusses this essay and puts it into its historical and critical context, arguing that Andreas-SalomB works in these texts "within and against the terms of biological and evolutionary thought" (Martin 141).

35Sigmund Freud, Drei Abhandlungen zur Sexualitat, Studienausgabe V (Frankfurt: Fischer, 1972) 112.

36See Andreas-SalomB, "ZTW" 98.

37Freud 61. Andreas-Salomh avoids the latinization of the term libido and talks about "Ichideal," and "Sexualtrieb."

381nge Weber and Brigitte Rempp, com- mentators on Andreas-SalomB's essay "Anal und Sexual," point to the larger discussion of the term "sublimation" in Freud's Viennese circle around 1912. Weber and Rempp 343. Andreas-Salomk takes this term up again in her essay "NarzismuR als Doppelrichtung."

39Andreas-Salome uses the same vocabu- lary as Freud when she discusses the meaning of the sexual experience as "physically covered up" (korperhaft zugedeckt). But in Freud it is the individual process of cathexis and not the experience of sexual togetherness which "cov- ers up." Freud relates the reexperience of an original unity solely to the ego libido in his Drei Abhandlungen:

Die narzistische oder Ichlibido erscheint

uns als das groSe Reservoir, aus welchem

die Objektbesetzungen ausgeschickt und

in welches sie wieder einbezogen werden,

die narziatische Libidobesetzung des Ichs

als der in der ersten Kindheit realisierte

Urzustand, welcher durch die spateren

Aussendungen der Libido nur verdeckt

wird, im Grunde hinter denselben erhal-

ten geblieben ist. (122) Freud refers to the "original state of things" as the autoeroticism of the infant who has not learned the process of object cathexis. Thus he fo- cuses solely on the individual action of the part- ners, and pays no attention to the process of shar- ing which Andreas-SalomB identifies as the enigma of sexual ecstasy.

40Whereas Gisela Brinker-Gabler published this essay under the title "Die in sich ruhende Frau" in Zur Psychologie der Frau, ed. Gisela Brinker-Gabler (Frankfurt a.M.: Fischer, 1978), Ernst Pfeiffer published a slightly shorter version of it under the quoted title "Der Mensch als Weib" in Lou Andreas- Salome'. Die Erotik. Vier Aufsatze (Frankfurt/M: Ullstein, 1992) 744. (All further refer- ences will appear in the text as "DMaW.")

41Martin 155.

42Andreas-SalomB, "Anal und Sexual" 124. In this text Andreas-SalomB adjusts more to Freudian vocabulary, but subverts it at the same time. The discussion of Freud's concept of "Analerotik" offers a new link to the devel- opment of a conscious "Ich." In controlling the "Analdrang" the infant develops a sense for the own personal power which separates between the I and its physical excrement, between the I and its radical otherness. Thus the infant is in- volved in two processes of object cathexis: the loving unitylidentity between mother's breast and sucking child and the objectification of the self in its physical excrement. Since these pro- cesses are not directly linked to gender issues, Andreas-Salome initially avoids addressing gender difference.

43Andreas-SalomB, "Anal und Sexual" 121.

44Andreas-SalomB, "Anal und Sexual" 122.

45"Wohingegen der Sexualtrieb seinerseits ein Zuwenig hievon [sic] merken laat, sich auf eine sehr spezielle Sondererregung be- schriinkt, die Person des Partners personlich kaum mitmeint, da wiederholt er im Grunde nur ein Analogon zum analen Vorgang. Inso- fern die geschlechtliche Vermiihlung wieder- einsetzt beim Einfachsten und Anfanglichsten, dem ZusammenschluS von Ei und Samen, und hinter diesem Geschehnis sich personlich undurchsichtig vollzieht, sagt sie dariiber Deutliches nur gleichnisweise aus oder durch das Drum und Dran der Partial- betatigungen um sie. Fehlt es, dann kann man mit iihnlichem Recht von einer riickstandigen, bruchstiickhaften Sexualerledigung reden wie beim Neurotiker." ("Anal und Sexual" 122-23)

46Lou Andreas-SalomB, Fenitschka and De- viations, tr. Dorothee Einstein Krahn (Lan- ham: UP of America, 1990) 11.

47This passage could be read as a commen- tary to We's metaphoric description of the kiss. 48Andreas-Salome, "Anal und Sexual" 120,


49Diana Behler, "Nietzsche and The Femi- nine," Nietzsche Studien 26, ed. Giinter Abel, Ernst Behler, Jorg Salarquarda, and Josef Si- mon (Berlin: de Gruyter 1997) 501.

SoAndreas-Salome, "Anal und Sexual" 121.

Summer 2000

51There are phrases and images in An- dreas-Salom6 texts which caused debates about her conservatism which Biddy Martin reviews in her book Woman and Modernity. Gisela Brinker-Gabler calls Andreas-Salom6's work regressive because it ignores the histori- cal and social manipulations of the perception of gender differences. (See Gisela Brinker- Gabler, ed., Zur Psychologie der Frau [Frankfurt a.M.: Fischer, 19781 20.) Some of An- dreas-Salome's images of women remind read- ers also of Theweleit's characterizations of fascist male fantasies in his analysis of the texts and psyche of "Freikorp" soldiers who mostly fought during WWI, then triumphed over the revolutionary German working class in the years immediately after WWI and later became the core of Hitler's SA. In the early text "Der Mensch als Weib," Andreas-SalomB pres- ents women with the symbolic gesture of kneeling instead of standing and as "Heimat," or "Schonheit" (29), and at the end of the text she associates the ecstasy of male ego-libido with Nietzche's Zarathustra who descends from the mountain with a renewed perception of femininity: "[Alls sahe er die Ewigkeit selbst in Gestalt eines jungen knieenden Weibes, von dem man nicht weiS, ob es kniet, um der Erde naher oder dem Himmel williger zu sein" (Pfeiffer,Erotik 44). Here woman turns into a symbol for the process of transcending and transgressing the boundaries of everyday life. In "Der Mensch als Weib" Andreas-SalomB characterizes woman as the complex structure of virgin, mother, and the sexually active wo- man. In "Zum Typus Weib" she calls women without children "sozial minderes Material," and the borders between sexuality as concep- tion and as pleasure are still blurred. Such evaluations cannot be found in "Anal und Sex- ual." This leads me to the following conclusion: in confronting Freud's and Rilke's gender bias Andreas-Salom6 frees her rhetorics from ideal- istic stereotypes. But she does not give up her special focus on the problem of defining togeth- erness. As a philosophically and psychologi- cally interested thinker she does not attempt to write a social and political history. Her shift- ing rhetorics indicate that she accommodated various-mainly male--scientific biological, philosophical and psychoanalytical discourses while pursuing her main interest in equalizing female sexuality.

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