literature Action Scenes of World Literature (25)

When Else Lasker's pupil Gottfried Benn loved

| Reading time: 3 minutes

Marc Reichwein

Was she pregnant by Gottfried Benn? Else Lasker student Was she pregnant by Gottfried Benn? Else Lasker student

Was she pregnant by Gottfried Benn? Else Lasker student

Source: ullstein picture – ullstein picture

Berlin, 1912: She loves gender role-playing games. He calls himself "Tiger". The poetic liaison between Else Lasker-Schüler and Gottfried Benn is one of the wildest relationships in literary history.

IShe is the star of the literary business of the year 1912. She loves androgynous role-playing games and has just declared herself to Prince Jussuf of Thebes, wearing the hair very short and oriental cut pants. This Jewish woman is sensational for Wilhelminian Berlin, and somehow for Gottfried Benn, the Protestant pastor's son from the province of Brandenburg.

She is 43, he 26. The unheard of her love: She gives to talk and to read. As soon as the two are together, they also cover each other – in public. Her relationship poetry appears in expressionist magazines such as "The action" and "Schaubühne", over months, live to read: she gives him one nickname from the "Nibelungenlied": "The noble King Giselheer / thrust with his lance spear / in the middle of my heart". – "I love animals," says Benn: "Everything is decided the first night. You grasp your teeth, what you long for. Hyenas, tigers, vultures are my coat of arms. "

Else Lasker-Schüler (around 1918) and Gottfried Benn (as a young doctor)

Else Lasker-Schüler (around 1918) and Gottfried Benn (as a young doctor)

Source: ullstein bild / Süddeutsche Zeitung Photo; ullstein picture

Else Lasker-Schüler answers "Giselheer the Tiger" in the "Schaubühne". She explains her 17-year-old lover to the jungle king ("your tiger's eyes are sweet") and herself to the tender tiger-mother: "I always carry you around / between my teeth". The tiger likes to make a poetic monkey: "I am a monkey Adam. Roses bloom in my hair / My front fins are already long and hairy. / Baumast-lusting. On the strong thumb / you can hang down for days. "

Rarely has sex been exaggerated metaphorically wittier and expressionistic than in the poetic liaison of Else Lasker-Schüler and Gottfried Benn, which might not have lasted half a year in real life. The relationship can not be dated and substantiated exactly. But Benn's metaphor for Lasker-Schüler's way of loving soon becomes bleak, in his poem "Threats" he writes:

"You, that we do not land on a shore! / You make me love: bloodthirsty: I want of you. "

The leech metaphor fits in with Benn, who has just published the dark poetry collection "Morgue" (named after the Paris morgue) as a recently graduated military doctor. The crass poem "Little Aster" is part of the collection that Else Lasker-Schüler loved as a lyricist.

Was she pregnant by Benn?

Young Benn likes mature women. After his liaison with Lasker-Schüler, he marries Edith Osterloh, who is eight years his senior, in 1914. When Edith gets a child from Benn in 1915 (a girl named Nele), Lasker-Schüler alias Yussef draws a nasty postcard. Yussuf wants to play with Giselheer's "Mägdelein", and in his hand he holds a curettage spoon, "the device that was then used for abortions," says the film director Helma Sanders-Brahms in their 1997 published Book about Benn and Lasker-Schüler, She reads this as an indication of an aborted child and speculates whether Else von Benn could have been pregnant. Also because Benn described in his poem "Curretage" a termination of pregnancy: "Now she lies in the same pose / as she received / the thighs loose / in the iron ring".

Later, Giselheer's and Yusuf's ways separate. Benn serves, at least initially, the Nazis, Lasker students emigrated 1933 to Zurich and 1934 to Jerusalem, where she dies in January 1945. In 1952, exactly 40 years after her affair, the master of melancholy poems publicly recalls his poetic teacher, calling her "the greatest lyricist Germany ever had".

All writer life is paper, they say. In this series, we counter the evidence.

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