Yvan Goll-Claire Goll: Texts and Contexts.
Typically, these twelve symposium papers provide several perspectives on a central theme and will appeal to different types of reader. The enigma of the Golls, both self-inflicted and an accident of historical reception, is judiciously explained in the editors' introduction. In the first part dealing with Yvan Goll, Margaret Rogister gives a factual account of his involvement with Switzerland in the First World War, referring among others to Stefan Zweig, Rene Schickele, and Frans Masereel. John J. White's enquiry into Yvan Goll's reception of Italian Futurism and French Orphism shows how the development of his aesthetic theories, interest in the imagery of 'verticality', and sympathies for Zenithism 'enabled him to take his Futurist-cum-Expressionist inheritance in a new direction without totally abandoning it' (p. 22). White further examines lines of contact between Yvan and the Italian Futurist dramatist Ruggero Vasari, and concludes that this passing interest in Zenithism and Futurism was a stepping-stone to later phases in Yvan's development. After a useful survey of bilingualism or equilingualism, applying translations of Georg Trakl's 'An den Knaben Elis' and Paul Claudel's 'Strasbourg' to reveal Yvan's creative use of the essence of French and German, Robert Vilain interprets in detail 'Der Panama-Kanal' through its (for him, interdependent) seven variants. A good case is made that Yvan sought aplurality beyond the constraints of language or search for poetic identity. Jeremy Stubbs traces Andre Breton's and Yvan's rival definitions of surrealism, interpreting them as searches for 'an ideal fabled language in which words and things coalesced and the poet could instantly tap the magical forces driving the universe' (p. 82). Andreas Kramer identifies Viking Eggeling's technical innovations and Guillaume Apollinaire's drama Les Mamelles de Tiresias as essential influences on the development of Yvan's theories on theatre and his unique position in German film. Robert Vilain and Geoffrey Chew on Yvan Goll and Kurt Weill convincingly prove with detailed examples from Der neue Orpheus and Royal Palace how they moved towards a new tongue-in-cheek classicism. Such a multi-media approach also informs the essay by Eric Robertson on visuality and circularity in Yvan's poetry, with particularly useful cross-references to surrealist works of art and interest in the occult. Apt inclusion and explanation of illustrations by Yves Tanguy and Sonia Delaunay round off the first half of the book.
The second, shorter half on Claire Goll begins with Margaret Littler's enquiry into madness, misogyny, and the feminine in aesthetic modernism, using Unica Zurn's life and art and Claire's 'mimicry' of a negative image of femininity to explain a fundamental ambivalence in Claire's work, where she confused 'antifeminism' and misogyny. Owing much to fundamental texts by Luce Irigaray, Littler claims that Claire's self-affirmation 'founders on the absence of a female imaginary' (p. 173). Rodney Livingstone on eroticism and feminism in Claire's writings highlights their early fetishism in contrast to her later social novels. Verena Mahlow examines Claire's prose works and their deliberately overdrawn central figures, allowing contrasts to be made with the use of love, fetishes, the mother-figure, anger, and sadism in, for instance, the works of Elfriede Jelinek. A distinction is drawn between trivial images of women driven to excesses and incomplete women seeking identity in order to channel a form of protest. While this may hold for the examples used, the theory would need to be re-examined against the works of Waltraud Anna Mitgutsch, where cliches and triviality appear as an inescapable feature of barely disguised real-life situations. Moray McGowan, in analysing Der Neger Jupiter raubt Europa, refers to deep-seated prejudices influenced by cultural and colonial traditions. The novel's inconsistencies are not glossed over, and some disturbing questions are raised about the writer's intentions. His final judgement, 'the novel's enterprise rattles, but does not escape, the discourse within which it operates' (p. 218), neither condemns nor justifies it, his cryptic sub-title 'Black and White?' being well illustrated. The final section is the first publication of Claire's letters to Rainer Maria Rilke 1919-25, with a foreword by Robert Vilain, who seeks to read between the lines and to explain a major silence from Rilke's side between late 1920 and Lent 1923.
Despite some of its more speculative offerings and without pretending to be an authoritative guide or introduction, the volume will be read by all interested in the Golls and their works. They are related to contemporary developments and reinterpreted as inheritors of Modernism. Claire's works become part of an emerging culture alongside insights of feminist criticism.
<ADD> BRIAN KEITH-SMITH MELLEN UNIVERSITY, IOWA </ADD>