Lawrence’s encounter with Frieda Weekley in March 1912 profoundly affected the composition of the final version of Sons and Lovers later in that year. Through Frieda, he would break from his past at every possible level: personally in his sexual relationship with her; geographically with their departure from England to Germany, then Italy; culturally through her background of German culture. Even more importantly, their relationship made possible Lawrence’s development to artistic maturity in his greatest novels The Rainbow and Women in Love. In what remains of this chapter we shall see how Lawrence achieved this, at least in terms of German culture.
The most important cultural influence to which Frieda introduced Lawrence was that of the Austrian psychoanalyst Otto Gross, with whom she had a love affair between 1907 and 1908. Lawrence and Frieda’s letters and memoirs vividly reveal their relationship, including the ideas she communicated to him throughout the composition of Sons and Lovers and beyond. Gross’ letters to Frieda are also essential to our understanding of Lawrence’s biography and artistic development. John Worthen argues that we can assume Lawrence read them because Frieda sent her husband some to explain her affair with Lawrence. Worthen sums up the significance of the letters as a struggle “to come to terms with the new and to escape the past”: “they offered Lawrence the themes for his next eight years of writing; and (above all) they offered a way of thinking about Frieda.
Gross attempted to combine Freud’s ideas with Nietzsche’s to produce a revolutionary philosophy, and through her relationship with Gross, Frieda suggested this philosophy to Lawrence. This includes Lawrence’s modern sense of tragedy: instead of regarding tragedy as the failure of his characters to sustain a transcendence of the physical world, as in The Trespasser, Lawrence locates its processes in the Dionysian and libidinal experiences of his characters in Sons and Lovers.
Lawrence wrote to Louie Burrows on 3 March 1911, about two weeks before meeting Frieda:
When I get sore, I always fly to the Greek tragedies: they make one feel sufficiently fatalistic. Im doing Oedipus Tyrannus just now – Sophocles… These Greek tragedies make one quiet and indifferent.
The resignation of the individual before the will of the gods accorded with Schopenhauer’s interpretation of tragedy. However, in Lawrence’s letter to Louie Burrows on 1 April 1911 we can see his attitude beginning to shift. Reflecting on his sister’s grief over the death of their mother, he retains the ideas of “fate” and “emptiness”:
Tragedy is like strong acid – it dissolves away all but the very gold of truth… But I suppose it’s fate. What life has set in progress, life can’t arrest: There is nothing to do but … to find in the emptiness a new presence.
But in the same letter, Lawrence anticipates his admiration for the Italian “belief in the blood” a few months after he completed Sons and Lovers, in contrast to Wagner’s “fate” and “Nichtigkeit”:
I love Italian opera — it’s so reckless. Damn Wagner, and his bellowings at Fate and death. Damn Debussy, and his averted face. I like the Italians who run all on impulse, and don’t care about their immortal souls, and don’t worry about the ultimate.
Like Nietzsche in Der Fall Wagner (1888, The Case of Wagner), in this letter Lawrence chooses Carmen as one of his favourite opera after; he reverses his attitude to Wagner who, as he had previously advised Blanche Jennings, would “run a knowledge of music into your blood”. It is probable that he had read Der Fall Wagner while writing The Trespasser. He comments to Sallie Hopkin on 26 April that “Oedipus is the finest drama of all times. It is terrible in its accumulation – like a great big wave coming up – and then crash!”. The “terrible” “crash” is the critical moment of tragedy, not the ensuing “emptiness”. On the same day he writes to Ada that “life is full of wonder and surprise and mostly pain. But never mind, the tragic is most holding, the most vital thing in life”. Lawrence is beginning to focus on the vitality of the individual hero in defiance of Wagner and Schopenhauer’s inevitable “fate and death”.
Through Frieda, Gross provided Lawrence with a Freudian and Nietzschean interpretation of Oedipus Tyrannus, and of the tragic element in Sons and Lovers. In Die Traumdeutung (1899, The Interpretation of Dreams) Freud redefined the significance of Greek tragedy, especially Oedipus. He denied that it expressed the powerlessness of the individual before the will of the gods. Instead, it depicts the conflict between the individual’s consciousness and unconscious:
King Oedipus, who slew his father Laïus and married his mother Jocasta, is merely our childhood wish-fulfilment. But, more fortunate than him, we have since managed, in so far as we have not become psychoneurotics, to detach our sexual stirrings from our mothers, to forget our jealousy of our fathers. Facing the person in whom every primal childhood wish has been fulfilled, we shudder back with the whole sum of repression, which those wishes have since then suffered within us.
Frieda recalled that during her first meeting with Lawrence, they “talked about Oedipus and understanding leaped through our words”. While Lawrence was redrafting Sons and Lovers for the last time in September 1912, she wrote to Garnett that “L. quite missed the point in ‘Paul Morel’. He really loved his mother more than any body, even with his other women, real love, sort of Oedipus”. From Schopenhauer’s notion of tragedy in which the individual faces the universal will, Lawrence moves closer to Freud’s notion of the individual’s consciousness facing his unconscious will. Paul is not cursed by his irreversible genealogy, but by his repressed sexual fixation upon his mother and aggression towards his father.
Freud’s analysis of Oedipus Tyrannus, though, follows from the Aristotelian interpretation of catharsis: the spectators’ unconscious desires are vicariously satisfied by Oedipus having acted them out, but then the terror of his punishment strengthens their consciousness in repressing their desires. Freud’s analysis accords with his premise that consciousness must control the unconscious to restrain the individual within society’s values. Following Nietzsche, Otto Gross instead believed that society must be transformed to encompass the individual’s libidinal desires. In his book Über psychopathische Minderwertigkeiten (1909, On Psychopathic Inferiors), which he was perhaps planning during his affair with Frieda, he argued that Freud was continuing Nietzsche’s work in revealing how the social majority repressed the individual’s instincts. Gross attempted to realize his synthesis of Freud and Nietzsche’s ideas in his school of anarchists at Ascona; with the slogan Nichts verdrängen! (“repress nothing!”), they broke social conventions through experimentation in drugs and orgies. His relationship with Frieda was part of this project, in which he envisaged her as the übermenschlich, Weib der Zukunft (“woman of the future”).
D.H. Lawrence and Germany: The Politics of Influence (Carl Krockel)
Dona Frieda foi muito incisiva ao transformar Lawrence em Gross: até fisicamente ficaram parecidos!
Na época em que Gross estava sob os cuidados de Jung em Zurique (onde um dia ele por acaso pulou o muro e fugiu do hospital e três dias depois o Jung estava dizendo que não ia mais se reprimir para a Spielrein – por isso digo, nunca deixe o demônio pular o muro, rá!) foi dentro do período em que mais exerceu influência sob dona Frieda através da vasta correspondência, esta que rendeu até um livro específico: The Otto Gross – Frieda Weekley Correspondence, curiosamente abrangendo o mesmo período de maior influência mútua entre Jung e Spielrein, quando estes ficaram brincando de Siegfried e Brunhilde.
Sabe o que é realmente interessante nessa coisa toda? O fato de Jung considerar Gross o seu gêmeo psíquico da mesma forma que Huxley e Lawrence eram entre si e o fato de Huxley ter sido profundamente influenciado por Jung enquanto Lawrence foi por Gross. Gêmeo psíquico é uma expressão do Jung, particularmente prefiro o termo complementos.
6 comentários em “Gross – Richthofen – Lawrence”
Sensacional. Essas coincidências (coincidências?) renderiam um livro à parte.
E essa frase aqui: “Tragedy is like strong acid – it dissolves away all but the very gold of truth… But I suppose it’s fate. What life has set in progress, life can’t arrest: There is nothing to do but … to find in the emptiness a new presence.”
Na hora lembrei do FRITZ LANG, e de outra frase que eu vi descrevendo os filmes dele: “Doom moves like a virus.”
Lang! Lang! Otto influcenciou profundamente o expressionismo alemão, diretamente mesmo, ele ficava andando pelos butecos berlinenses (como do resto da europa ocasionalmente) conversando com todo tipo de boêmio e artista, fazendo consultas por alí mesmo, só não digo que Lang o tivesse conhecido pessoalmente porque o período de tempo não bate.
E olha só o que chegou na minha mão hoje:
Leitura pros próximos dias (não semanas ou meses!).
Coisa linda, hein?