"Ich war verkleidet als Poet... ich bin Poetin!!" The Masquerade of Gender in Else Lasker-Schüler's Work

by Mary-Elizabeth O'Brien
"Ich war verkleidet als Poet... ich bin Poetin!!" The Masquerade of Gender in Else Lasker-Schüler's Work
Mary-Elizabeth O'Brien
The German Quarterly
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"Ich war verkleidet als Poet . . . ich bin Poetin!!" The Masquerade of Gender in Else Lasker-Schiiler's Work

According to the Bible, a good name is worth more than a precious ointment (Ecc.

7: 1).Taking a new name and its cor- responding identity is the ultimate gesture of self-creation. As a poet, illustrator, letter writer, performer, and essayist, Else Las- ker-Schiiler adopted various fictional iden- tities. Unlike the author who remains in- cognito in the text, Lasker-Schiiler created such imaginary figures as Princess Tino of Bagdad and Prince Jussuf of Thebes, only to assume their names, identities, and voices as her own. This adoption of alter egos was not limited to the fictional frame, since she retained these mythic personae in her daily life, correspondence, and autobiographical statements.

Along with her artistic masks, Lasker- Schiiler's physical appearance and de- meanor were striking: her piercing and soulful eyes, shortly cropped black hair, ex- otic clothing, and cheap jewelry drew the attention, if not the scorn, of her contem- poraries. Within the confines of Wilhelmine society, she was nothing less than a spec- tacle who literally embodied the defiant spirit of Bohemian artistry. At every stage in her life and work, Else Lasker-Schiiler defied easy definition. Perpetually seeking a spiritual home if not a place to spend the night, she exemplified the position of the manifold Other. She was a woman, Jew, art- ist, vagabond, twice-divorced single mother, and exile who lived most of her adult life in abject poverty.

For Lasker-Schiiler, being different was a double-edged sword; it was the source of great pride and perhaps even greater loneli- ness. A common thread that runs through her work is the conflict inherent in differ- ence and the separation of the self from others. Her preoccupation with the self as a primary signifier in search of recognition is well illustrated in her choice of two op- posing thernatics. Her artistic ego either ex- erts individuality or relinquishes it in order to join with others in a union without dif- ference.

Perhaps the most striking element in Lasker-Schiiler's adoption of masks is the fact that she initially spoke through a female voice but rejected it later in favor of adistinctlymalevoice. Hans Ckhnhas aptly characterized her shifting focus as alter- nately a "withdrawal from reality" and a "search for contact" (37);yet his statement, "it must suffice to regard the 'maleness' of the chosen 'mask' as a special aspect of her flight from identity" (73), leaves us to ponder the possible implications of a woman writer adopting a public and poetic male pers0na.l While the theme of identity in Lasker-Schiiler's work has been a prominent topic of research, rarely do these discussions address the issues of identity andsubjectivity in the context of gender and a~thorship.~

The positionshe chose for her- self, '?ch war verkleidet als Poet. . . ich bin Poetin!!," must be addressed.3

Moreover, a reassessment of Lasker- Schiiler's prose and visual works appeals to be timely, if we wish to understand more about her concept of the self. Werner Kraft's argument, "daR diese Prosa kiinstlerisch

The German Quarterly 65.1(1992) 1

nicht auf der Hohe der Lyriksteht" (15), has found resonance in the scholarly emphasis on Lasker-Schuler's poetryto the detriment of a more comprehensive approach.4 Since she transfers the thematics of difference in various media and genres, it is important to consider the aesthetic merit of each work from the perspective of its multimedia con- ception.

The focus of this study will be to demonstrate that Lasker-Schuler's strug- gle to overcome distance and opposition results most often in the loss of self, stable identity, and sexual determinacy. Owing to her practice of writing in the first person, her shift to a male voice, and her adoption of a male persona in her daily life, I will examine how she defines masculinity and femininity in respect to the subject. In ad- dition, I will analyze how the artistic ego relates to the bipartite and self-defining system of sexual dflerence.

Else Lasker-Schuler's autobiographical statements are veiled in symbols, falsifica- tions, and fictions. From the vantage point of the adult looking back on the past, she creates a life legend bordering on self- mystification. However, her essays con- cerning her earliest encounters with lan- guage and the process of naming reveal a great deal about the poetess. Despite the dubious historical accuracy of these works, they are significant as writings in which she constructs self-identity in symbolic terms.

In 'lch raume aufl" (1925), for example, she describes her initiation into language and the symbolic order between the ages of two and five. Three women seem to have played an important role in teaching the young Else language, poetic sense, colors, and rhymes. She imagines her maternal grandmother Johanna Kopp and her mother Jeanette Schuler n6e Kissing to be great poetesses (GW 11,532, 867, and 876) and thus links herself to her female ances- tors through their common lyrical lan- guage. With her mother, the two-year-old Else played "Einwortsagen," a game in which the mother said one word and the child rhymed this word with a new one (GW 11,518). At age four, her governess taught her to write (GW 11, 518). She reminisces that during this time she also played with colored buttons, arranging them in seem- ingly limitless configurations. Her favorite button was a black amber covered in stars, and she named it Joseph of Egypt. Lasker- Schuler reports that vowels and consonants carried the same significance as colors and shapes, each endowed with symbolic value, beauty, and an essence ofita own. She traces backher artistic endeavors to the age offive, when she began to systematize her semi- private symbols in poems she terms "meine besten Gedichte."

According to Das Hebriierland (1937), it was also at this psychosocial stage that she reportedly first associated herself with the Biblical figure Joseph. Like him, Else was a dreamer:

Joseph und seine Briider war meine Lieblingsgeschichte und ich durfte sie immer erzahlen in der Fkhgionsstunde. Ich sei ja der Joseph von Agypten selbst, rief eines Tages, ganzdurnrn,eine Mitschii- lerin. Darurn glaubten es alle Kinder in der Klasse, und mir kam's so vom Himmel hoch herunter; und ich verrnochte seitdem gar nicht mehr aufkupassen. (GW 11,866)

The appeal which Joseph held for the poetess should not be underestimated. As the son of the aged Jacob and his wife Rachel, Joseph was blessed with the gift of prophesy (Gen. 37-50). He was a visionary who could see into the souls of men and understand the symbolic language of dreams. He was also singled out by his father; of the twelve brothers, only Joseph was given the miraculous coat of many colors.

The parallels between Joseph's life legend and Lasker-Schuler's description of her early childhood are striking. She was highly influenced by her father, a man whom she considered a playmate and with whom she could identify as a link to her male ancestors. Yet in her eyes, Aron Schuler treated boys better than girls. She writes that her father gave boys an entire Taler while girls were only given a few Groschen. She then adds:

Er [der Vater] scktzte Madchen nicht allzusehr, und ich muI3te in seiner Begleitung stets keck und burschikos ge- kleidet gehen. Die Fiil3e in hohen Tres- senstiefeln. und eine Knabenrniitze ad meinen gescheitelten, kungeschnittenen Haaren. (GW 11,874)

Clothing functions in both the Biblical story and Lasker-Schuler's narrative as a visual sign of acceptance and deception.= Just as Joseph's robe signifies his special relationship to Jacob and his chosen status within the family, Else's male uniformfunc- tions as a symbol of her father's singular love. Similarly, Joseph's garments are used to deceive both Jacob and Potiphar, while Else's costume hides the truth of her female identity.

Since the outer manifestation of male identity rather than any personality trait is seen as the key to acceptance, the only position open for a female speaker insearch of recognition is to embrace a male sexual identity. Lasker-Schuler reports that even among her playmates, the exterior differ- ence between boys and girls contributed to a more positive assessment of being male. In "Meine Kinderzeit" (1913), she tells of how she and her friends especially liked to play soldiers. In her account of how each child was given a role, she explains that girls were singled out as the natural enemy: 'Wir fertigten uns aus Papier [Ulanen- mutzen] an, aber ich muJ3te Feind sein, weil ich ein Madchen war, zur Strafe" (GW 11, 141). She continues: "Sonst bemerkte ich nie von seitenmeiner Spielgefahrten irgend eine Geringschatzungmir gegeniiber."This punishment of the female--whether imagined or experienced-is a prominent com- ponent of Lasker-Schiiler's identification with Joseph and a male persona.

Lasker-Schuler portrays her childhood home as a haven, where she was accepted and enjoyed close relationships with several family members. In the intimacy of her family, she seemed to have received the personal recognition she failed to achieve as an adult. But part of this acceptance, at least on the side of her father and young male friends, was based on the adoption of a male persona and the negative assess- ment of being female. In addition, Lasker- Schuler situates her parents in a system of oppositional terms based on a conventional understanding of gender, whereby her mother embodies the feminine in poetic sensibilities and her father the masculine in vitality. While these aspects of identity are clearly separated in the figures of her parents, they become a central area of con- flict for her alter egos Tino and Jussuf.

Already in Styx (1902), her first book of poetry, Lasker-Schuler expresses ambivalence toward her own female ancestry and the feminine tradition with its roots in the demonic woman. In "Urfriihling," she describes an encounter between the poetic I and Eve in paradise:

Sie trug eine Schlange als Giirtel
Und Paradiesapfel auf dem Hut,
Und meine wilde Sehnsucht
Raste weiter in ihrem Blut.

Und das Ursonnenbangen,
Das Schwermiit'ge der Glut
Und die Blasse meiner Wangen
Standen auch ihr so gut.

Das war ein Spiel der Geschicke
Ein's ihrer Stseldinge ...
Wir senkten zitternd die Blicke
In die Marchen unserer Ringe.

Ich vergass meines Blutes Eva
Ueber all' diesen Seelenklippen,
Und es brannte das Rot ihres Mundes,
Als ktte ich Knabenlippen.

Und das Abendrijten gliihte
Sich schlangelnd am Himmelssaume,
Und vom Erkenntnisbaume
Uchelte spottgut die Bliite. (GW I, 23)

The poetic I acknowledges her kinship to Eve in the metaphor of blood, yet she rejects it in the same breath. Judith Kuck- art argues: "Ek scheint, als habe Eva sich verdoppelt und als sei ihr Wunsch nach Erkenntnis als Begehren auf sich selbst gerichtet und auf das Erkennen der Anderen/ Geliebten" (110). Indeed, Lasker- Schuler situates her lyrical I outside woman and simultaneously in woman, as ifto conjure up a second woman in paradise, Eve's demonic sister Lilith.6 The I speaks of how Eve's body, specifically the red of her mouth, entices her and drives her to respond with an imaginary male body: "Als hatte ich Knabenlippen."

In the deepest reaches of her soul ("Ueber all' diesen Seelenklippen"), the poetic I rejects her own womanliness as defined by the Biblical account of creation in order to experience the pleasure of Eve.7 This poem questions the Judeo-Christian tradition of woman as mere object, her status as the temptress of man, and, most importantly, a system which separates man from woman, good from evil, the spirit from the body8 While clearly a female speaker, the lyrical I associates herself with Adam, the observer, and thus views woman from a double perspective. This Adam-Lilith figure and Eve share the same emotional and physical experiences ("Und meine wilde Sehnsucht / Raste weiter in ihrem Blut," 'TJnd die Blhse meiner Wangen / Standen auch ihr so gut"); in their common desire, the borders between male and female, passivity and activity, mind and body are erased. In contrast to the story of Genesis, the lovers enjoy a sexual union that knows no difference, and the knowl- edge they gain does not result in a fall from grace, but rather is looked upon with sub- versive pleasure ("Und vom Erkenntnis- baume / Uchelte spottgut die Blute").

The poetic voice goes one step further in "Mein Drama," by renouncing both her own female body and the belief in a system that separates the individual into male and female:

Keinen Glauben hab'ich mehr an Weib und


Den Faden, der mich hielt rnit allem Leben,

Hab' ich der Welt zuriickgegeben


. . .

Lernte meinen Leib, mein Henblut und

ihn hassen,

Nie so das Evablut kennen

Wie in Dir, Mann!(GW I, 44)

The concluding elliptic lines, 'Wie so das Evablut kennen / Wie in Dir, Mann," seem to imply that man will never recognize his own female component, the blood of Eve within himself. Like her poetic voice, Las- ker-Schiiler the correspondent rejects the demonic aspect of woman in respect to sub- jectivity: "Ich kenne keine Siinde, ich habe auch mit Eva und der Schlange nichts zu tun," but she still identifies herself as female: "ich bin die direkte Abkommin von irgend einer Quelle des Paradieses" (Briefe an Karl Kraus 55). While acknowledging a female identity, Lasker-Schuler defines herself outside the Biblical tradition of gender difference, where woman signifies sin and evil.

Lasker-Schuler creates a symbolic world in which woman often signifies pain. From the female position, the ego relin- quishes individuality and experiences a symbolic death inorder tobegin a new erotic life in union with man. In several poems, she visualizes how her lyrical I cuts herself out of or buries herself in her lover's flesh. In "Lauter Diamant," for example, she writes: 'Da ich mich schnitzte /Aus deinem Herzfleische" (GW I, 208); in "Chaos," the I declares: "Mocht einen Herzallerliebsten haben! / Und mich in seinem Fleisch vergraben" (GW I, 39). The fulfillment of female sexual desire threatens and even- tually consumes the poetic I.9

A symbolic death or splitting of the speaking self can also be seen in Lasker- Schuler's image of the mirror. As a symbol for self-knowledge, the mirror has long oc- cupied a special place in the language of poetry and psychology. The reflection of one's own image often reveals the discrep- ancy between self-representation and per- ceived reality. Lasker-Schiiler employs this symbol to describe how as a child she iden- tified strongly with Joseph. With a shift in narrative time to the present, she looks into the mirror to see if she still recognizes the man within herself: "Daran mich erin- nernd, verlieI3 ich mein Bettchen, in den hohen Spiegel zu schauen, ob ich 'ihm' wirklich ahnele" (GW 11, 866). In 'Zeise sagen," she looks into the mirror but fails to find her own reflection: "Im Spiegel der Bache / Finde ich mein Bild nicht mehr" (GW I, 163). The centrality of this line within the poem-it appears asthe fifth in nine lines-is analogous to its centrality within her expression of the loss of identity.

In both instances, the I confronts itself as something foreign and questions the true identity of the speaking self.

An extreme affirmation of individuality, by contrast, can be found in "Mein stilles Lied," where the lyrical I declares: "Ich bin der Hieroglyph, / Der unter der Schopfung steht" (GW I, 136). This line suggests an acutely strong sense of identity and an awareness of her own ability to create a symbolic world based on the self as a pri- mary signifier. The fact that it is followed by the line, 'Vnd ich artete mich nach euch, 1 Der Sehnsucht nach dem Menschen wegen," is quite revealing. While the I defines itself as a being of symbolic value beyond creation, beyond limitations and definitions, it must nonetheless adopt the way of others in order to communicate. The power to create originates in difference, which separates the self from others.

The concept of voice plays an equally important role in the construction of iden- tity. Just as the mirror is a sign which reveals one's true identity, the voice allows the inner soul expression in the symbolic order of language. Lasker-Schuler per- ceives the multiplicity of voice, the concert of many different voices, as the highest form of communication.1°

The very notion of concert, however, im- plies the subjugation of the singular voice to the whole. The poem "Sulamith" ex- emplifies this principle asthe lyrical I dis- solves into the You on both a thematic and narrative level. In order to communicate, the I must expire as an individual and cease to function as different and unique:

0, ich lernte an Deinem siissen Munde

Zu vie1 der Seligkeiten kennen!

SchonfWich die Lippen Gabriels

Aufmeinem Henen brennen . . .

Und die Nachtwolke trinkt

Meinen tiefen Cederntraum.

0, wie Dein Leben mir winkt!

Und ich vergehe

Mit bliihendem Hemeleid

Und verwehe im Weltraum,

In Zeit

In Ewigkeit,

Und meine Seele vergliiht in den

Abendfkrben Jerusalems. (GW I,37)

While in the first and seventh line the lover is addressed as You, in the third line he is identified as Gabriel. This merger of the second and third person on the narra- tive level-where You becomes He-is taken one step further as the Youme be- comes I ("0, wie Dein Leben mir winkt!"). This multifarious entity then merges with the all of time and space only to become extinguished in the mystic realm of Jerusalem. Paradoxically, the concert results in self-annihilation.

A similar communion of souls occurs in the poem 'Ruth." Here again, we witness the harmony of voice as the song of Ruth, her lover, and the angel are superimposed upon each other

Und du suchst mich vor den Hecken.

Ich hore deine Schritte seufken

Und meine Augen sind schwere dunkle


In meiner Seele bliihen siiss deine Blicke
Und fiillen sich,
Wenn meine Augen in den Schlaf wandeln.

Am Brunnen meiner Heimat

Steht ein Engel,

Der singt das Lied meiner Liebe,

Der singt das Lied Ruths. (GW I, 126)

In the first stanza, the I speaks of the You's search for someone whose eyes are "schwere dunkle Tropfen," thus suggesting a female identity, the Ruth in the title.ll In the second stanza, the continuation of the manner in which the You loves the I sug- gests stable identity of the two figures. In the third and final stanza, however, the identity of the speaking subject begins to dissolve. If the angel is singing the song of Ruth, then who is the I relating events in the preceding stanzas, Ruth or her lover who harmonizes with the angel?

In contrast to "Sulamith," it appears that communication of a love imagined as blossoming and growing might be possible without the complete loss of self-identity. The prominence of images dealing with sight and animated glances in "Ruth" reveals the key difference between the two poems. The poetic I expresses individuality exclusively in the image of her eyes, com- monly viewed as the window to the soul and center of identity. The fact that her lover's glances penetrate her soul and enter into her sleep suggests that love is founded upon mutual recognition, but it appears to be only possible in the unconscious realm beyond the limitations of the here and now.

The most complex and fascinating man- ifestation of Lasker-Schuler's search for identity is her adoption of an alter ego. During the late 1890s, she first met the vag- abond poet Peter Hille, who gave her the exotic name Tino. Hille defined Lasker- Schuler not only in the archetypal images of sister, wife, and queen but also as a male comrade: "Tino-Konigin allerhtichster Leidenschaft," "mein lieber hoher Kame- rad," "Mahommets Weib," "meine kon- geniale ~chwester."l~ Like Hille, Lasker- Schiiler stressed the sexually ambiguous nature of Tino, "das Meine Madchen mit den Knabenaugen" (GW 11,683). Together, these descriptions form a composite of the androgynous visionary set apart from others by birthright, divine intervention, and a Middle Eastern heritage.

Throughout her life, Lasker-Schuler en- joyed giving friends and lovers new names and identities, yet the playfulness of this gestureis often overshadowed by the loneli- ness of nonidentity and namelessness. At the opening of Das Peter Hille-Buch (1906), for example, she portrays herself as com- pletely lost, silent, and without knowledge of her name. She describes how "St. Peter Hille" descended from the cliffs and had a miraculous effect upon her:

Der Mann mit dem harten Bart- und

Haupthaar fkagte mich, von wo ich kiime-

aber ich schwieg; die Nacht hatte meine

Wege ausgeloscht, auch konnte ich mich

nicht auf meinen Namen besinnen,

heulende hungrige Norde hatten ihn zer-

risssn. Und der mit dem Felsennamen

nannte mich Tino. Und ich kiil3te den

Glanz seiner gemeiaelten Hand und ging

ihrn zurSeite. (GW II,9)

Tino became Lasker-Schuler's pen name in correspondence from 1900 to around 1910,13 as well as the main pro- tagonist in Die Ntichte Tim uon Bagdads (1907), a collectionofseven poems and nine- teen prose pieces dedicated to her mother.

The two poems which frame Die Ntichte already contain the most essential features of Tino's personality and conflicts. In "Mein Lied," the poetic I is governed by the logic of duality (Bauschinger 108). It is both young and old, plant and human, asleep yet struggling to awaken, and confronted by darkness and light. These contrasting images underscore the dichotomy evident in the figure Tino, who is a princess and a poetess, alternately wealthy and impoverished, rapturous and melancholic. The final poem, 'mein Leben," is equally revealing. The key line, "Sieh in mein ver- wandertes Gesicht" (GW 11, 1217), which opens, repeats, and closes the poem, illus- trates two further components of Tino's identity. First, the neologism "venvandert" suggests verwandelt and venuandt, and ver-wandert thus characterizes Tino as transformed, related by kinship, and gne astray. Secondly, with the imperative com- mand to look into her face-the locus of identity and inner vision--the poetic voice once again expresses the desire to be recog- nized in the most literal sense.

The transformation and instability of identity is reiterated in the first prose sec- tion, "Ich tanze in der Moschee," as Tino rises from the earth after three days in a Christlike act of self-creation. Dieter Bansch astutely describes how Lasker- Schiiler creates the sense of language in motion to support the theme of dancing by having the I divide itself "in stuckenhaft, rhythmisch von Gliedseelen angetriebene Korperlichkeit" (33). Bansch, however, neglects to see that this language also em- bodies a motif permeating Die Nlichte: namely, the self that is fragmented and estranged from the female body. Like the poetic voices of "Urfriihling" and "Chaos," Princess Tino wants to free herself com- pletely from a destructive feminine tradi- tion: "sie verwiinschte ihre braunen, langen Haare und alles, was sie von Eva geerbt hatte" (GW 11, 82). This rejection of femininity appears to be based on the fact that the assertion of female sexuality is severely punished in several stories from Die Ntichte.

In "Minn, der Sohn des Sultans von Marokko," both Tino and her cousin Minn attempt to overcome a gender-specific be- havioral code which prohibits the free ex- pression of sexuality. Minn, for instance, "wandelt . . . auf verbotenen Wegen; das Wandeln durch den weinen Duft ist nur uns Frauen gestattet" (GW 11, 68), while Tino asks to be seated next to Minn at dinner contrary to convention. Tino invites Minn to gaze upon her in dance. His refusal provokes Tino to question his manliness. Minn drops his camel skin and the two dance naked in wild ecstasy, '%is unsere Fiilje eins sind im Drehen" (GW II,69). The entire court observes the dance until Minn's and Tino's fathers witness the sensual ex- hibition. Tino reports that as punishment for having seen "unseren nackten Tanz, meinen Leib und vor allen Dingen meinAn- gesicht," the tongues of the black slaves are pierced and the courtesans are blinded (GW 11, 70). The princesses, by contrast, are spared punishment since they merely saw Minn's body; only the display of female sex- uality is prohibited. Yet Minn is found later "zerbissen unter geknickten&ten. . . seine zarten, sanften Glieder zerrissen" (GW 11, 70). Tino is suspected of the brutal murder, but it was actually the Sultan von Marokko who actedout the archetypal battle for dom- inance with clear sexual overtones by kill- ing his own son. Thus, Lasker-Schuler of- fers an inversion of the oedipal conflict and also endows both men with feminine char- acteristics. The son is "sanft" and "zart"; the father kills Minn with his Trauenzahne" (GW 11, 68).

Sexuality is again depicted as a painful experience in the five sections devoted to Tino and Apollydes, where exterior forces continuously prevent the young lovers from enjoying each other's kisses. In the garden of Amri Mbillre, fittingly called King of the Nameless City, the lovers finally kiss in Tino's golden tears. As in the story of Minn, a powerful man punishes the young male lover with animalistic pleasure. King Amri Mbillre binds Apollydes to a pillar and feasts upon his pain (GW II,85).

Women as a collective are punished in 'Der Fakir von Theben." Here Tino sees a group of wise menon a pilgrimage and asks to join them. Among these wise men is the fakir: "Er [der Fakir] hal3te die Frauen, sie zu vertilgen, war eines seiner frommen Werke" (GW II,71). Women shake as if in labor when they see the fakir, for if his flesh- less hand touches a woman, she will bleed for forty days. Tino is saved from the fakir's scourge due to her rare and miraculous "caelium" stone ring, a symbol of her in- dividuality and separation from other women. The fakir desires her ring, but she refuses to part with it. As punishment for her refusal to submit, the fakir takes his wrath out on the women in the land by making them bleed unceasingly. He then turns to Tino:

Die [fleischlose Hand des Fakirs] lie13 sich langsam auf meine Schulter nieder, ich fiihlte nicht einrnal ihren Moderhauch, sie erstarb im Herabsinken. Er aber wandte sich verachtlich von mir, die ich unwert seines frommen Werkes. (GW II,72)

Despite Tino's rare qualities, she is ul- timately deemed unworthy14 With the Bib- lical allusions to the number forty and the concept of all women after Eve being pun- ished for knowledge with a painful labor and menstruation (Gen. 3: 16), Lasker- Schuler locates Tino's search for wisdom within the Judeo-Christian tradition that equates man with empowerment and woman with victimization. Simultaneously woman and non-woman, within the system of gender difference and outside it, Tino scores merely a hollowvictoryover the fakir. In the end, she shares the fate of Eveboth women being denied access to knowledge and punished physically-while the fakir and Adam become godlike in their spiritu- ality (compare Gen. 3: 22). Unlike the poetic I of 'Vrfriihling," who in defining herself subverts and parodies the notion of woman as unworthy, Tino suffers the disastrous consequences inherent in a foreign defini- tion of the self.

The transition from Tino to Jussuf as Lasker-Schuler's dominant voice occurred in stages between 1910 and 1914.15 Prince d ussul 01 lhebes 11rst appears as her alter ego in the epistolary novel Mein Hen: Ein Liebesroman mit Bildern und wirklich lebenden Menschen (1912). This collection of letters, embedded letters, telegrams, and sketches relates the Bohemian literary life of the Berlin coffeehouses as well as Las- ker-Schuler's estrangement from her hus- band Herwarth Walden and her assump tion of the Prince Jussuf persona. A remarkable element ofMein Herz is the fact that Princess Tino and Prince Jussuf share the stage as different facets of Lasker- Schuler's narrative ego. The author begins her correspondence in the mask of Tino, only to relinquish it and cloak herself in Jussuf's mantle. Considering this unusual transformation, the question arises as to why Lasker-Schuler embraced a new and specifically male voice.

Scholars have tended to view Lasker- Schuler's dire personal circumstances around 1911-her poverty, failed marriage, and isolation--as well asher explicit desire to distance herself from such events as the primary motivations behind her adoption of a princely persona.16 Her statement from the later essay '?ch raume auf!" (1925), "In der Nacht meiner tiefsten Not erhob ich mich zum Prinzen von Theben," is most often cited to support such an argument. In my opinion, greater emphasis should be placed on the line which directly follows: 'Welchen Ahnen nachfolgte ich, welche Mumie salbte meine entschlossene Tat?" (GW 11,534-35). Lasker-Schuler's sense of abandonment seems to have gone well beyond her personal relationships and di- sastrous financial situation, since she turned to her ancestors, her link to God through kinship, to ask if anyone before her could possibly understand her self-imposed metamorphosis. Bansch maintains that she evokes her mythic life legend here (201), asif to solidify her status as a member of a historical and Biblical community (205). However, her transformation from a poetess to a prince, from a female to a male voice can be seen as an act of separation from her ancestors rather than one ofjunc- ture. By stressing the lackof any forerunner and describing her deed as something that must be anointed, she implies it is a unique and possibly painful experience requiring the sanction of a blessing. Moreover, while she enjoyed fabled friendships with Peter Hille, Karl Kraus, Franz Marc, and Georg Trakl, among others, she had no contem- porary female mentor. Lasker-Schiiler's lack of female role models as well as her own descriptions of femininity in terms of pain and punishment should be seen as fur- ther underlying motivations behind her adoption of a distinctly male voice.

While Lasker-Schuler's personal cir- cumstances are indeed important factors, Sigrid Bauschinger has shown that a closer textual analysis can provide new insights into the Prince Jussuf mask. Bauschinger sees the prince asa linguistic phenomenon, a figure who lives in the exotic land of art- istry andsymbolic languagebut is constant- ly confronted with the cool, sober land of reality. She thus characterizes Jussuf as a rebellion against the 20th-century metrop olis (104). Bauschinger, however, neglects to examine the specifically masculine aspect of the Jussuf voice. I will argue that Lasker-Schuler's transition from a female to a male voice is a narrative strategy to empower the subject, elicit recognition, and gain access to a public forum.

A comparison between Princess Tino and Prince Jussuf reveals that both figures share a royal, foreign heritage which sets them apart from others. Tino, however, is most often portrayed as the powerless vic- tim, while Jussuf is depicted as a warrior who rebels against his oppressors. In con- trast to Jussuf, Tino is dominated by men who refuse to accept her words, visions, sex- uality, and love.

Princess Tino appears throughout Mein Herz as a lonely woman who tries to entice and please menbut suffers from unrequited love. Just as Tino was unable to bring her relationships with men to fruition in Die Nlichte, she laments here that her love for Minn, the Bishop, and the Slav is met with indifference, fear for the loss of status, and, ultimately, rejection.17 Both works also ad- dress the suppression and imperceptibility of the female voice. In Die Nlichte, Tino is "eine bunte Quelle, die nicht von ihrem Schaumen erzahlen darf' (GW 11, 74), a poetess who is robbed of her speech and ridiculed (GW 11, 79 and 73). She dreams, "ihr Name sei verklungen" (GW II,73); but it reasserts itself after Tino's death, as if to imply that she can only lay claim to her true identity by expiring as an individual living being. In Mein Herz, Tino is also a poetess who grieves because no one will listen to her stories (GW 11,291 and 301) and, more im- portantly, no one understands her "gaukelnden Worten ein Seil zu spannen" (GW 11,306).

Beginning with Das Peter Hille-Buch, Tino is repeatedly depicted as ineffective and struggling with her nameless status. These characteristics separate her most clearly from the Prince of Thebes figure in Mein Herz. Whereas Jussuf is also threat- ened by nonidentity, he defends his individ- uality, claims his name, and resides in a domain where his name, vision, and image are accepted. Bansch rightly characterized this shift in the narrative ego as 'aergang vom Erleiden ins Handeln" (207). However, it is equally important to note that Lasker- Schuler defines subjectivity within the bi- nary system of gender difference. By ascrib- ing the attribute of activity exclusively to her male alter ego and passivity to her female self, she internalizes the traditional masculinelfeminine dichotomy in her text.

The pivotal differences between Tino and Jussuf can also be seen by examining the illustrations of both figures.18 Lasker- Schuler placed great importance on the in- tegration of language and visual imagery, especially in her symbolic representation of the self. In Mein Hen, she explains: "Ich habe den Menschen nie anders empfunden wie einen Rahmen, in den ich mich stellte; manchmal, ehrlich gesagt, verlor ich mich in ihm" (GW 11,387). This tendency to lose herself in images-'lch sterbe am Leben und atme im Bilde wieder auf' (GW 11, 357tseems to be based on their intrinsic capacity to offer a concrete "alter" reality.

Lasker-Schuler included six self-portraits and a photograph of herselfin the costume of Jussuf inMein Herz alone,lgbut she appears to have published only one il- lustration of Tino: namely, for the cover of DieNtichte der Tino von Bagdad (1919).2O The princess is portrayed here dancing, clothed in a long flowing gown with a veil over her head. This drawing thus embodies Tino's essence as a woman who entices with her words and body. Seen in the context of Tino's ineffectiveness as a lover and poetess, it is not surprising that Lasker-Schuler relinquishes this role in the last paragraph ofMeinHen with the lines: "Ich kannnicht mehr tanzen, Herwarth, ich weine-Schnee fiillt auf meine weinenden Augen." Juxtaposed to these lines on the opposite page is the image of Jussuf. This drawing shows a frontal view of his face with huge, closed and vacant eyes. The face is framed by shortly cropped hair and bears a remark- able resemblance to Lasker-Schuler's photograph included in this edition. As if to suggest an intermediate stage of noniden- tity, a nose, mouth, and chin are con- spicuously missingfrom the portrait. Words and images form a suture as she ironically exclaims: '?ch zweifele nie an mir."

Mein Herz concludes with a postscript to Herwarth Walden. Lasker-Schuler writes that she found an unopened letter addressed to Walden containing her self- portrait. This drawing features a profile of the Prince of Thebes, complete with open lips and eyes, the recurring signs of identity and poetic vision. Since Walden never saw this new image, the image that replaced both Tino and the incomplete self, he never truly acknowledged her individuality and inner strength. She continues in the voice of Jussufto explain that a relief of the prince will soon be unveiled:

Aber ich bin nicht gespannt darauf, mich zu sehen, denn ich habe mich nie wiedererkannt, weder in Plastik, noch in der Malerei, selbst nicht im Abgul3. Ich suche in meinem Portrait das wechselnde Spiel von Tag und Nacht, den Schlaf und das Wachen. (GW 11,389-90)

This inability to recognize herself in the art of others seems predicated upon the fact that these works fail to depict her multi- plicity. Throughout the novel, Lasker- Schuler positively acclaims the various aspects of her ego and tries to give expres- sion to "meine verschieden aufgefaBten Ichs" (GW 11, 374). She stresses that only when one views her in her entirety can she be truly known.

The newly acquired male voice and iden- tity now allow the narrative ego to be seen, heard, and recognized as worthy:

Mein Volk will immer mein Gesicht sehn,
meine Stimme horen. Unter dem
Friihstern, der nach mir benamet wurde,
spreche ich zu meiner Stadt und offne
ihren Menschen meine Seele wie einen
Palmenhain, den sie betxeten diirfen.
Der Himmel ist mein Spiegel.
Mein Bildnis wird verteilt in Theben.

Jussuf-Prinz. (GW 11,391)

It was only by adopting the fictional male voice and corresponding body that Lasker-Schuler could imagine herself strong, active, and accepted. In the masquerade of gender, her voice is finally heard and her vision perceived.

Both the cover and final illustrations of Jussuf depict his strength and privileged status invisual terms. On the cover, Jussuf is shown in the foreground dressed in pants, with a dagger at his waist and a sword at his side, the insignia of protection and power. A large black man in a long gown stands behind him, who by his erect and overbearing stance also seems to be pro- tecting the prince. In the final drawing, Jus- suf is seen with his hand extended, speak- ing to the city of Thebes, which is, as in nearly all later drawings, ironically devoid of people.

In Der Prinz uon Theben: Ein Geschichtenbuch (1914), Lasker-Schuler speaks in the first-person voice of Jussuf in only one story, "Der Derwisch." Here, she incorpo- rates elements from the Biblical Joseph's life into the fictional Jussuf's history. Based on his newly assumed status as an isolated visionary, Jussuf now has more in common with Tino than the mighty warrior poet in- troduced in Mein Hen.

Three key themes link Joseph with Jus- suf betrayal, difference, and concealment of identity. Jussuf adopts the outward syrn-

bol of Joseph's betrayal, the "lammblutender Hirtenrock Jussufs, wie ihn seine Briider dem Vater brachten" (GW 11,103). In addition, both men are depicted as strangers. After his betrayal and sale into slavery, Joseph became a powerful man at the Egyptian court, yet he remained a foreigner in exile until his brothers repented. Despite his new political powers, Joseph was a stranger in a strange land.21 Jussuf is also different, but not in the same sense. He reveals that he was once a woman but has rejected this female heritage: "ich ver- tauschte den Prinzessinnenschleier mit dem armseligen Rock der Weide" (GW 11, 105).22 Common to both characters is the fact that they hide their true identities as a strategy for gainingaccess to power. By con- cealing his true identity from his brothers, Joseph is able to reunite his family. Jussuf is also empowered by concealing his true female identity. Protected by his male dis- guise and self-definition, Jussuf is able to join the dervish on his travels and avoid the bloodbath of Jom 'aschuras (GW 11, 104- 05), a feat which eluded Tino in "Der Fakir" under similar circumstances.

Several scholars have recently argued that Lasker-Schuler's poetic voice exhibits androgynous principles.23The same cannot be said of her narrative voice. While her alter egos strive for androgyny, they never actually achieve this utopian state. These characters do not display androgyny in the sense of a perfect harmony between the male and female aspects of the human ego, but rather engage in a constant battle for supremacy of one over the other. Sexual duality is most often depicted in macabre images of pain, death, and inner torture. In "Ein Brief meiner Base Schalome," Lasker- Schuler appears to be masquerading as both Jussuf the recipient and Schalome the letter writer. Schalome, like Tino, is a prin- cess and dreamer from Bagdad who does not understand the language of the harem womenand is frightenedby their evildrinks and forbidden foods (GW 11,10748). More- over, her aunt, female cousins, and the eunuchs play out a sadomasochistic torture scene before her (GW 11, 10849). In the subsequent story, "Der Fakir))) the narrative I is equally unstable and undergoes a trans- formation of identity. She is again a dreamer from Bagdad but not Schalome, who is now one of the emir's daughters. The unnamed female narrator sees the fakir in her mirror feasting on his snakes, but it appears as if she had acted out this scene herself', since she later comments: "meine Lippen Crbt noch ein Tropfen Blut meiner ~chtlichenSpeise" (GW 11,111). After fore- seeing in her mirror the death of the warrior Hascha-Nid, whose golden body resembles hers, she exclaims: "Und kann mich gar nicht mehr finden. Der Streif uber meinem Kinn zieht sich durch meinen ganzen Korper, teilt ihn in zwei Halften" (GW 11, 113). The merger of the male and female aspects inherent in the self results in the loss of stable identity and unresolved duality.

The illustrations to Der Prinz uon Theben also hint at Jussuf's duality, since he is alternately portrayed as sorrowful and warlike, a lowly shepherd and a mighty emperor.24 'Der Derwisch und Jussuf auf dem Muharam Fest" presents the dervish and Jussuf riding a camel surrounded in the forefront by a sparsely sketched crowd. The dervish is clad in an elaborately decorated mantle covered with stars, a cres- cent moon, a palm tree, and a city-all recurring symbols of the divinely chosen and true poet. Jussuf, by contrast, is depicted inmodest garments with no adorn- ments. The drawing "Abigail Jussufs Ein- samkeit" presents Jussuf's dichotomy in the juxtaposition of images that connote both inner vision and suffering. Jussuf is shown full-figured, dressed in a long gown decorated with a crescent moon and comet on his chest. Yet he is barefoot and seated; his head, adorned with a crescent moon, is bowed low in pain and cradled in his right hand. This humble yet chosen figure shares little with the prince depicted in "Jussuf und einige der Zebaoth Knaben." Jussufoc-

cupies the top center, with the city behind him and twelve men in the forefront below. His central and elevated location within the drawing as well as the fact that he, like Christ, is surrounded by twelve disciples allude to his honoredstatus. The cover illus- tration presents the warrior Jussuf seen in profile with a black slave. The prince wears a blue bishop's headpiece embellished with a star and crescent moon; the same symbols are also shown on his cheek. In his starred hand, Jussuf carries a spear. Thus equipped with the instruments of earthly and un- earthly power, Jussuf embodies authority and control. Der Malik: Eine Kaiser- geschichte (1919), the last prose work to fea- ture Prince Jussuf, relates his ascension to the throne of Thebes as Melech, his efforts to avoid involvement in world war, and his eventual suicide. In the voice of Prince Jus- suf corresponding with his brother Ruben, Lasker-Schuler writes to Franz Marc and, as with Mein Herz, fictionalizes events in her life in order to pay tribute to her friends.

Franz Marc, Johannes Holzmann, and Gottfried Benn play a pivotal role in the narrative and are all featured as Jussuf's brothers. Marc is given the role of the Bib- lical figure Reuben, the one brother who hesitated to participate in Joseph's betrayal. The poet Holzmann is idealized here as Prince Sascha, a friend so beloved, "der hat meines Bruders steinern Gesicht" (GW I, 178). Benn is Giselheer, the Nibelung knight, to whom Jussufgives gifts "als ob er mein Bruderchen sei" (GW 11, 401). Jussuf also allows his people to estab- lish three sacred brotherhoods and places himself at the head of each. By stylizing each prominent male character as a brother, Lasker-Schuler allows her alter ego Jussuf to join in a union predicated on similitude. Yet in order to experience the same male identity as her brothers, Else Lasker-Schuler, masquerading in the male role of Jussuf, relinquishes her sense of female identity.

The significance of the brother motif can be seen in the coronation ~~eech.25

Upon being crowned Melech, Jussuf Abigail Basileus speaks to hispeople. He exclaims: 'lch bin euer Bruder und euer Konig und euer Knecht" (GW11,431). This statement exemplifies the essentialcharacteristics as- sociated with Jussuf. He isa brother, a male family member bound to others by blood, who knows no difference. He is also a king, a powerful man who wields control over others but is benevolent. Finally, Jussuf is aservant who subjects himselfto others and offers his friends precious gifts,his city, and his love, all in vain.

Whereas Die Ntkhte deals primarily with sexual love, DerMalik concentrates on friendship and brotherly love. In the essay "Freundschaft und Liebe" (1932), Lasker- Schuler outlines the difference between love and friendship: "Doch die Erftillung aller Sehnsucht nach Freundschaft bedeutet die Begegnung seines zweiten Gesichts. Den Freund verlangt es immer, im Freund sein Ebenbild zu sehen, wie der Liebende in der Herzallerliebsten seine Vollendung" (GW 11, 611). The essence of friendshipis to find one's own equal and, as Lasker-Schuler implies with the ambiguous term "zweites Gesicht," also one's own prophetic vision in a union of kindred souls. She stresses: 'Die Freunde miissen sich horbarer mitteilen und sehnen sich tiiglich ahnlicher zu werden. Die Liebenden unahnlicher; gegenseitiges Bewundern; der Paragraph der Liebe" (GW 11, 616). Since Tino functioned primarily as a woman who offered herself completely, but was unable to receive physical love in return, her literary death seemed inevi- table. The same fate, however, befalls Prince Jussuf. He, too, fantasizes about a perfect love relationship:

In der Nacht spiele ich mit mir Liebste und Liebster; ei&ntlich sind wir zwei Jungens.Das ist das keuscheste Liebesspiel auf der Welt; kein Hinweis auf den Un- terschied, Liebe ohne Ziel und Zweck, holde Unzucht. (GW 11, 395-96; my em- phasis)

In the mask of Jussuf at play, Lasker- Schiiler describes a love that rejects differ- ence. Since she plays both roles, the lover and the beloved, she achieves a union be- tween the Other and the Self. Yet this love never fully materializes in the novel. While Jussuf's male identity enables him to become a powerful ruler and partake in the bonds of brotherhood, in the end his broth- ers all abandon him, and he, like Tino, has no one with whom he can share his love. The distinctly male component ascribed to Jussuf and his brothers can be seen as a positive trait within the logic of this work, since women are generally described as wicked and deb~ed.2~

Three women enjoy a relationship with Jussuf and are defined to a great extent by his perception of them. Seen in the context of Jussuf's response to the Venus of Siam, Ruben's wife Mareia, and Milli Millus, these female characters come to represent the archetypal images of woman as powerless object, initiator of man's downfall, and seductive deceiver, respectively. Jussuf abducts the beautiful Venus of Siam but considers her merely6'ein unvergleichliches Kunstwerk" (GW 11, 448), an object to admire and a symbol of conquest. Jussuf's attitude to Mareia, by contrast, is highly ambivalent. Initially, he honors her by naming his third city Mareia- Ir, yet he blames her for persuading Ruben to go to war (GW 11,441 and 442) and thus perceives her as a sirenlike creature who destroys his brother. Milli Millus is the most complex of the three female characters and the only one to play a major role in the nar- rative.As a womandisguised in the costume of a man, Milli shares with Jussuf (and Las- ker-Schuler) an ambiguous sexual identity. But like Tino, this woman-man is unsuc- cessful in her attempt to define herself; she assumes the name Milila (GW II,462), but Jussuf continues to call her Milli Millus (GW 11, 468). Described in animalistic terms-"Mil'ila, die Frau in Mannskleidern, schlich . . . auf ihren Tatzen" (GW 11, 468hhe is met with suspicion at the court as an unnatural creature. Flattered by her attention and the fact that she carries a marble image of the Melech, Jussuf raises her to a chieftain but fails to include her in his adventures. He soon realizes that Milli's male form masks her true, deceitful nature, when he overhears her attempts at seduc- ing Morderchei' and persuading him to make her the empress of Thebes (GW 11, 480-81). Jussuf, however, "verbarg seine Abneigung gegen alles Weib, schon als Prinz von Theben" (GW 11,448). His disdain for woman and femininity is not based sole- ly on his negative perception of specific women. Jussuf also possesses a female com- ponent himself, which he tries to deny and suppress: "Memed hatte Verstiindnis fur des Kaisers Abneigung gegen Eva; trotzdem gerade das Himbeertraumerische in Jussuf, die Farbe der Prinzessinnen- seele, ihn entzuckte, aber er wagte nicht, die Beeren der Straucher Seiner Seele zu pfliicken" (GW 11, 448).

Since Jussuf loses his two brothers Ruben and Sascha, is conquered by Gisel- heer, and betrayed by his chieftains, he ul- timately fails to find a love without differ- ence. Jussuf's loss coincides with his inability to suppress his own female iden- tity. He leaves his palace alone:

Und wanderte und schlief auf einer Wiese ein und traumte, es ware eine abend- landische Dichterin in einem kleinen Klimmerlein hoch in einem Turme und spiele mit dem Mond und seinen Sternen Zickzack. . . . Nach dieser Seelenwande- rung fuhlte sich Jussuf fremd seinen nachsten Menschen gegeniiber. (GW 11,

The 'Seelenwanderung," in which the prince confronts the poetess within himself, highlights the conflict inherent in Lasker- Schuler's adoption of a male persona. The encounter illustrates not only the inevitable clash between reality and fiction but also the incongruity of being both a poetess and a prince, a woman and a man. The result of this unresolved opposition is a sense of alienation simply too great to bear. Jussuf's prophetic dream becomes reality when he returns to the palace intent on punishing his chieftains for their betrayal, only to be attacked by the woman-man from Mareia- Ir:

Da nun Abigail Jussuf das Schweigen seiner Hauptlinge fur die Folge ihrer Schuld ansah und den festen Entschld seines Planes nicht mehr entriicken konn- te, stieR ahnungslos in den Brokat den Dolch, hohl in den toten Mantel Milli Mil- lus; vernahm die bewegten Schreie seiner Freunde, aber Er war einer Stufe, die nicht vorhanden, entgleitet, durnpf fbhr es Ihrn durch die Eingeweide, und entriR die Wunel Seines Blutes. (GW 11,488)

The predominance of images connoting emptiness and absence ("hohl," "dumpf," "nicht vorhanden") suggests that Jussuf has lost his sense of identity once gained in the bonds ofbrotherhood. Notably, it is Milli Millus, the woman disguised as a man, who tears away the root of his blood, the center of his sexual identity.

Shortly after his fateful dream and con- frontation with Milli, Jussuf hang himself. Just as Genesis ends with Joseph's death, Der Malik concludes with Jussuf's suicide. While Lasker-Schuler continued to masquerade as the prince in her correspon- dence and sketches, she never again spoke in his voice in her narrative fiction.27

Else Lasker-Schuler portrays the

speaking self in its search for love and

acceptance, but the longing for unity with

others results more often than not in a pain-

ful separation and loss of stable identity. In

order to transcend physical and spiritual

limitations, Lasker-Schuler situates her

fictional I at various points along the male-

female axis of sexual identity. She depicts

the I as a man, a woman, a woman who

wishes to be a man, and a man who fears

the woman inside himself. In the poem

'TJrfriihling,"she rejects aforeign definition

of femininity in respect to subjectivity and

posits an androgynous identity never fully

realized in her narrative prose. Tobe sure,

each of her alter egos expresses disdain for

the traditionally demonic, passive, and sub- jugated female roles. Tino, however, suc- cumbs to this foreign definition and is ex- cluded from both sexual and spiritual union. It is only by adopting the male voice and the corresponding male fictional body that Lasker-Schuler can image herself as strong, active, and accepted. Yet despite his male identity, Jussuf is equally ineffective in bridging the gap between the self and others. Whether woman-man or man-woman, these alter egos fail to overcome opposition within themselves and in rela- tion to others. This unresolved sexual duality results in alienation and, ultimate- ly, self-annihilation of the alter ego. Lasker- Schuler's attempt at transcending gender difference seemed doomed to fail, since her search for the authentic self is based more on denial than on exploration.

lSee also Muschg 126; KraR 9; and Newton

33-34. While these scholars note the male asp&

of the Prince Jussuf mask, they neglect to analyze

the masculine/feminine dichotomy manifest in

Lasker-Schuler's multimedia works.

2Kuckart, Weissenberger, and Hasecke inte-

grate the questions of gender and authorship in

their recent studies on Lasker-Schuler. Weissen-

berger and Hasecke deal primarily with her poetry.

Kuckart takes a more comprehensive approach

but fails to examine her prose and visual works


3Gesmmelte Werh 11, 380. Unless otherwise

noted, all quotations from Lasker-Schiiler's works

are taken from her Gesammelte Werke, eds. Fried-

helm Kemp and Werner KraR, 3 vole. (Munchen:

Kosel, 195G-62). Further references to the text are

indicated by parentheses.

4For a negative appraisal of Lasker-Schuler's

prose works, see also Cohn 1and Muschg 134.

5Nelly Furman examines the semiotic function

of clothing in the Jacob cycle to illustrate a gender-

specificuse of thesevisual signifiers. Furman dem-

onstrates how the male figures view garments as

a marker of the special relationship between men

which forms "a communicative channel from

which women are excluded," whereas the female

figurea use clothing to deceive men and "reinsmibe

thernselvee in the patriarchal systemn (114). The divergent male and female strategies described by F'urman are both evident in Lasker-Schiiler's nar- rative. First, ''Joseph's robe eetabbhee a visible link between father and son: the seal of approval for all to seeof Joseph's election as favorite son and legitimate heir" (110), in the same manner that Else's costume is a sign of filial love and recognition. Secondly, like Tamar and Potiphar's wife who use clothing in a deceitful manner "as a means of self-inscription in a system that neglecta them" (114), Else assumes a male disguiae to fit in a system that deiinea the female as the enemy.

me story of Lilith as Adam's first and rebel- lious wife has been all but expunged from Scrip- ture, the only remnant to be found in Isaiah 34: 14. She is portrayed in the Alphabet of Ben Sira as follows: When God created His world and created Adam, He saw that Adam was alone, and He im- mediately created a woman from the earth, like him, for him, and named her Lilith. He brought her to Adam and they immediately began to fight. Adamsaid, You shall lie below'and Lilithsaid, You shall lie Glow for we are equal and both here created from earth.' When Lilith saw the state of things, she uttered the Holy name and flew into the air and fled" (quoted from Aschkenasy 183). See Graves and Patai for a summary of the Lilith myth found in various apocrypha and midrashim, 65-69. For a feminist analysis of Lilith in the Hebraic literary tradition, see Aschkenasy 50-76 and 183-86.

7For an excellent in-depth examination of 'Wr- friihling," see Hasecke.

8Canonized in Genesis 3 as the temptress of man, Eve has come to emblematize the demonic aspect of the feminine. The traditional exegesis of the fall from grace defines woman as inferior to man and sets up a system of oppositional values based on gender. While both Adam and Eve eat from the Tree of Knowledge, they suffer different fates. Eve is banished from the Garden of Eden, punished with the pain of childbirth, and, most importantly, willed by God to submit to man: 'Yet your urge shall be for your husband, and he shall beyour master" (Gen. 3: 16). Adamis also banished from paradise and doomed to toil on earth, but he becomes godlike: 'Then the Lord God said: 'See! The man has become like one of us, knowing what is good and what is bad!"' (Gen. 3: 22). In analogy to the polarity between good and evil, this myth has been seen as positing the male superior to the female and the spi [it superior to the body. Heister summarizes the hstorical exegesis of Genesis 1-3 and provides an excellent critical commentary; see 135-180.

gSee Kuckart 28 and Weissenberger 209.

lwith the term "concert" Lasker-Schfiler denotes a rare state where different voicee harmo- nize and transcend all limitations: "manchmal nur kommt so etwas wie Conzert zustande; vier, die zusammen am Tiach sitzen und doch fortili&n irgendwohin in die Welt" (Briefe anKarl Kraus 77). This same motif occurs in the title of her essay collection from 1932, Konzert.

llMy argument that the image of water drops suggeste a female identity is based in part on Lasker-Schiiler's use of this same imagery in Die Ncichte der Em von Bagdad, where Tino and Apol- lydea kiss in her golden tears (GW 11, 85). In his study on Lasker-Schiiler's poetry, Gotthard Guder cites numerous poems in which the image of water denote chaos and an exterior threat. Guder con- cludes: "Das Meer, das gestaltlose Element, ist fir sie bsker-Schiiler] Spiegel ihrer selbst" (35). In Lasker-Schiiler's prose, however, we find a direct correlation between water, danger, powerlessness, and woman. In Mein Hen, she writes: "Denn das Wasser, ob ea ein Bach oder ein Teich ist, ein FluB oder ein Meer kt, es verbirgt die lockeren, locken- den Eingeweide des Weibes in sich. Kein Schiff ist ihrer sicher" (GW 11, 384).

12See Briefe Peter Hilles 10, 11,20 and 28. In these letters, Hille points to Lasker-Schuler's an- drogynous nature by employing the salutations 'Zieber Tino" (171, 'Ziebe Tho'' (181, and "Liebes Tino" (25).

13Lasker-Schiiler used the name Tino in a letter to Julius Hart dated November 16, 1900 (Briefe II,14) and continued the practice of signing herself Tino, Princess of Bagdad in an undated letter to Richard Dehmel which appears to have been written shortly before 1910 (Briefe I, 1617).

14The theme of women as unworthv and their role as sacrificial victims to powerful men are camed over into the frlmscript 'iPlumm-Pascha" (1914), the last work in which Tino appears; see Dm Kimbuch 49-52. Tino is portrayed here as a beautiful, young, and impoverished princess, who must perform a sacrificial ad of appeasement by kissing Plumm-Pascha. The total domination of women is once again demonstrated by the fad that Tino's forced subjugation is accepted only after the ugly Princes Bahbah submits herself freely but is rejected. Moreover, since Tino is saved by a &us ew machina, she again assumes a passive role in the narrative.

151n her correspondence, Lasker-Schiiler began to adopt a princely persona as early asJuly 1902 (Briefe 11, 18).In Odober 1910, she wrote to Richard Dehmel: "Lieber GroBWrst, ich spiele nkmlich die Hauptrolle im Fakir von Theben, [/I den Prinzen [fl" (Briefe I, 17).

16Astrid Gehlhoff-Claee, for example, arguee that Lasker-Schiiler created her own mythic world in order to forget her UpersBnlichea Schicksal, per- sonliche Herkunft und ZukunR" (153). Weissen- berger, by contrast, view Lasker-Schiiler's adoption of the Jussuf mask in her poetry "ah weibliche Selbstevidenz des messianischen Sendungsbewufltseins" and "konsequente Weiter- fihrungund Steigerung der weiblichen Ausgangs- position" (207).

171n the opening letter, Lasker-Schiiler de- scribes her love for Minn (known from Die N&hte as Tino's murdered lover), the Bishop, and the Slav (GW II,291-97). For details on Tino's various love affairs inMein Hen, see GW 11,310,357,351,378, and 359.

18Lasker-Schiiler's illustrations have rarely been examined, perhaps a consequence of the fad that they are seldom reproduced. Bauschinger devotee a chapter of her study to Lasker-Schiiler as 'Die Dichterin und die Zeichnerin" and provides extremely thorough references to Lasker-Schiiler's visual works. While Bauschinger discussee Lasker-Schiiler's integration of these drawings into her narrative works, she negleds to addreas their symbolic value, since, in Bauschinger's terms: "Zeichnungen, Bilder sind konkret und be- diirfen keiner Erkllrung" (219).

IgSee Mein Herz (Bachmair, 19121, the cover, frontispiece, 115, 132, 147, 159, 163. While Prin- cess Tino appears throughout the work, Lasker- Schiiler includee no illustrations of her.

20Lasker-~chiilerrenamed the second edition of this collection Die Niichte der 'i7n.ovon Bagdad. The first edition featuree a title illustration of Tino by Max Frohlich.

21~nher comments on Lasker-Schiiler's use of Biblical figures, Bauschinger emphasizee the con- tinuity between Abraham, King Saul, and Aron Schiiler and their progeny Isaac, Abigail, and Ehe Lasker-Schiiler. Hence, she arguee: "Hier war sie keine Fremde" (180). However, it is exactly Abraham's status as a foreigner and his words: "I am a stranger and a sojourner with you" (Gen. 23: 20) that find reeonance in Lasker-Schiiler's work and eepecially in the figure Joseph.

22Male/female dichotomy is also evident in the story of the male figure Tschandragupta, who appeara before the women of the city in the dead SchlBme's veila "so liebevoll tastend, wie ein kind- tragendes Weib" (GW 11,103). Even in "Das Buch der drei Abigails" (GW 11, 114-261, all three Melechs of Thebee bear the female Biblical name Abigail, the same name that Lasker-Schiiler was to give Jussuf in her later novel Der Malik (1919).

23See Kuckart, Weissenberger, and Hasecke.

24Thecitations here refer to the second edition of Der Prinz uon Theben published by Paul Cassi- rer in 1920. The illustrations of Jussuf in this edition are not paginated and can be found on the cover andbetween pagee 24/25,44/45,62/63,76/78.

%While the brother motif reachee its pinnacle in Der Malik, Lasker-Schiiler often wrote about her special affection for her own brother Paul and her great sorrow at his early death. In his memory, she named her only son Paul. When speaking about the poet Georg Trakl, who was rumored to be in love with his sister, Lasker-Schiiler stressed that in the security of an incestuous relationship one would never feel self-contempt: "Ich habe mir immer einen Bruder als Geliebten gewiinscht, da weil3 man doch wenigstens, was man hat, und man braucht sich nicht zuverachten" (GW III,160). She repeats this motif in "Ballade aus den sauerlandi- schen Bergen," a rather macabre poem about incest, when she writee: "Er hat sich /In ein ver- teufeltee Weib vergafft, / In sing [sic] Schwester" (GW I. 57).

261n the following passage, women are de- pi& as demonic creatures who try to sow the seeds of discontent: "Ein paar alte Weibchen hatten sich in Theben eingeschmuggelt, schwatz- ten den Leuten die Ohren schmutzig, boten den edlen %chtern Thebens Liebesharz feil und drangten sich an die abendlandischen Ritter. Doch das dreikopfige Geziicht mrde ergriffen und gehlngt" (GW II,455). Gertrude zu Osthaus von Weetfalen, her daughter Helga, Paula Engeline, Hellene, Calmus' wife, and Jussuf's mother are all portrayed in a positive light but play a minor role in the narrative; see GW I1455,485,476, and 486. For further references to Jussuf's disdain for and inability to relate to women, see GW 11, 464 and


271t is extremely difficult to delineate clearly between Lasker-Schiiler's fictional prose and au- tobiographical works, but the later works which feature her in the role of Joseph and Prinz Jussuf tend to view this phenomenon as a past event. During her visit to the amphitheater in Jerusalem in 1934, for example, she describes her continued fascination with Joseph in nostalgicterms: "Immer ertappe ich mich in der Rolle Joaephs. Ich brenne darauf, meine Lieblingsgeechichte einmal hier auf dieser steinernen Urbiihne zu spielen in der Ur- sprache uraltem Hebraisch. Die Seele der Joaephlegende, die einmal Wahrheitgewesen, wider auferstehen zu lamen, sie zu verkorpern, in meinen K6rper zu hiillen" (GW 11,964; my empha- sis).
Works Cited

Aschkenasy, Nehama. Eve's Journey: Feminine Images in Hebraic Literary Dadition.

Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1986.

Bansch, Dieter. Else Lasker-Schuler: Zur Kritik eines etablierten Bildes. Stuttgart: Metzler, 1971.

Bauschinger, Sigrid. Else Lasker-Schu ler: Ihr Werk und ihre Zeit. Poesie und Wissenschaft 7. Heidelberg: Stiehm, 1980.

Cohn,Hans W. Else Lasker-Schiiler: The Broken World. Anglica Germanica 2. London: Cambridge University Press, 1974.

Furman, Nelly. "His Story versus Her Story: Male Genealogy and Female Stratea in the Jamb Cycle." Feminist Perspectives on Biblical Scholarship. Biblical Scholarship in North America 10. Chim, CA: Scholars Prew, 1985. 107-16.

Guder, Gotthard. Else Lasker-Schuler: Deutung ihrer Lyrik. Siegen: Vorlgnder, 1966.

Graves, Robert, and Raphael Patai. Hebrew Myths: The Book of Genesis. New York: Greenwich House, 1983.

Hasecke, Ursula. ''Die Kunst Apokryphen zulesen: Zu einigen Momentaufnahmen 'weiblicher' Imagination in der literarischen Arbeit Else Lasker-Schiilers." Entwurfe uon Frauen in der Literatur des 20. Jahrhunderts. Ed. Irmela von der Liihe. Literatur im historischenProzea N.F.

5. Berlin: Argument, 1982.27-63.

Heister, Maria-Sybilla. Frauen in der biblischen Glaubensgeschichte. 2nd rev. ed. Gttingen: Vandenhoeck und Ruprecht, 1986.

Hille, Peter. Briefe Peter Hilles an Else Lasker-Schiiler. Berlin: Cassirer, 1921. KraR, Werner. Introdudion. Else Lasker-Schriler: Eine Einfrihrung in ihr Werk und eine Auswahl.

Verschollene und Vergessene. Wiesbaden: Steiner, 1951.

Kuckart, Judith. Im Spiegel der Biiche fin& ich mein Bild nicht mehr: GratLvanderung einer anderen Asthetik der Dichterin Else Lusker-Schiiler. Collection S. Fischer 41. Frankfurt: Fischer, 1985. Lasker-Schiiler, Else. Briefe an Karl Kraus. Ed. Astrid Gehlhoff-Claes. Kdln: Kiepenheuer & Wibch, 1959. .Gesmmelte Werke. Eds. Friedhelm Kemp and Werner Kraft. 3 vols. Miinchen: Kosel, 1959-62. . 'Zieber gestreifter Eger'? Briefe von Else Lasker-Schf ler. Vol. 1. Ed. Margarete Kupper. Miinchen: Kosel, 1969. .Mein Hem. Ein Liebesroman mit Bildern und wirklich lebenden Menschen. Miinchen: Bachmair, 1912. .Die N&chte Tim von Bagdads. Stuttgart: Axel Juncker, 1907.2nd ed. Die N&chte der Tim uon Bagdad. Berlin: Cassirer, 1919. . "Plumm-Pascha." Das Kinobuch. (1914) Ed. Kurt Pinthus. Rpt. FrankfurW.: Fischer, 1983. . Der Prinz uon Theben: Ein Geschichtenbuch. Mit 13 Abbildungen nach Zeichnungen der Verfasserin. Berlin: Cassirer, 1920. . 'Wo ist unser buntes Theben'? Briefe von Else Lasker-Schiiler. Vol. 2. Ed. Margarete Kupper. Miinchen: Kosel, 1969. Muschg, Walter. Von Dakl zu Brecht: Dichter des Expressionismus. Miinchen: Piper, 1961. Newton, Robert P. Introduction. Your Diamond Dreams Cut Open My Arteries: Poems by Else Lasker-Schuler. University of North Carolina Studies in the Germanic Languages and Literatures 100. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Preas, 1982. Weissenberger, Klaus. "Else Lasker-Schiilers Anverwandlung des Josephs-Mythos." Colloquia Germmica 16 (1983): 201-16.

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