Sigmund Freud (18561939). Delusion and Dream. 1917.
Part II. Delusion and Dream in Wilhelm Jensens Gradiva by Dr. Sigmund Freud
IN a circle of men who take it for granted that the basic riddle of the dream has been solved by the efforts of the present writer,1 curiosity was aroused one day concerning those dreams which have never been dreamed, those created by authors, and attributed to fictitious characters in their productions. The proposal to submit this kind of dream to investigation might appear idle and strange; but from one view-point it could be considered justifiable. It is, to be sure, not at all generally believed that the dreamer dreams something senseful and significant. Science and the majority of educated people smile when one offers them the task of interpreting dreams. Only people still clinging to superstition, who give continuity, thereby, to the convictions of the ancients, will not refrain from interpreting dreams, and the writer of Traumdeutung has dared, against the protests of orthodox science, to take sides with the ancients and superstitious. He is, of course, far from accepting in dreams a prevision of the future, for the disclosure of which man has, from time immemorial, striven vainly. He could not, however, completely reject the connections of dreams with the future, for, after completing some arduous analysis, the dreams seemed to him to represent the fulfilment of a wish of the dreamer; and who could dispute that wishes are preponderantly concerned with the future?
I have just said that the dream is a fulfilled wish. Whoever is not afraid to toil through a difficult book, whoever does not demand that a complicated problem be insincerely and untruthfully presented to him as easy and simple, to save his own effort, may seek in the above-mentioned Traumdeutung, ample proof of this statement, and may, until then, cast aside the objection that will surely be expressed against the equivalence of dreams and wish-fulfilment.
We have, however, anticipated. The question is not now one of establishing whether the meaning of a dream is, in every case, to be interpreted as the fulfilment of a wish, or, just as frequently, as an anxious expectation, an intention or deliberation, etc. The first question is, rather, whether the dream has any meaning at all, whether one should grant it the value of a psychic process. Science answers, No; it explains the dream as a purely physiological process, behind which one need not seek meaning, significance nor intention. Physical excitations play, during sleep, on the psychic instrument and bring into consciousness sometimes some, sometimes other ideas devoid of psychic coherence. Dreams are comparable only to convulsions, not to expressive movements.
In this dispute over the estimation of dreams, writers seem to stand on the same side with the ancients, superstitious people and the author of Traumdeutung. For, when they cause the people created by their imagination to dream, they follow the common experience that peoples thoughts and feelings continue into sleep, and they seek only to depict the psychic states of their heroes through the dreams of the latter. Story-tellers are valuable allies, and their testimony is to be rated high, for they usually know many things between heaven and earth that our academic wisdom does not even dream of. In psychic knowledge, indeed, they are far ahead of us, ordinary people, because they draw from sources that we have not yet made accessible for science. Would that this partizanship of literary workers for the senseful nature of dreams were only more unequivocal! Sharper criticism might object that writers take sides neither for nor against the psychic significance of an isolated dream; they are satisfied to show how the sleeping psyche stirs under the stimuli which have remained active in it as off-shoots of waking life.
Our interest for the way in which story-tellers make use of dreams is not, however, made less intense by this disillusionment. Even if the investigation should teach nothing of the nature of dreams, it may perhaps afford us, from this angle, a little insight into the nature of creative, literary production. Actual dreams are considered to be unrestrained and irregular formations, and now come the free copies of such dreams; but there is much less freedom and arbitrariness in psychic life than we are inclined to believe, perhaps none at all. What we, laity, call chance resolves itself, to an acknowledged degree, into laws; also, what we call arbitrariness in psychic life rests on laws only now dimly surmised. Let us see!
There are two possible methods for this investigation; one is engrossment with a special case, with the dream-creations of one writer in one of his works; the other consists in bringing together and comparing all the examples of the use of dreams which are found in the works of different story-tellers. The second way seems to be by far the more effective, perhaps the only justifiable one, for it frees us immediately from the dangers connected with the conception of the writer as an artistic unity. This unity falls to pieces in investigations of widely different writers, among whom we are wont to honor some, individually, as the most profound connoisseurs of psychic life. Yet these pages will be filled by an investigation of the former kind. It so happened, in the group of men who started the idea, that some one remembered that the bit of fiction which he had most recently enjoyed contained several dreams which looked at him with familiar expression and invited him to try on them the method of Traumdeutung. He admitted that the material and setting of the little tale had been partly responsible for the origin of his pleasure, for the story was unfolded in Pompeii, and concerned a young archaeologist who had given up interest in life, for that in the remains of the classic past, and now, by a remarkable, but absolutely correct détour, was brought back to life. During the perusal of this really poetic material, the reader experienced all sorts of feelings of familiarity and concurrence. The tale was Wilhelm Jensens Gradiva, a little romance designated by its author, himself, A Pompeian Fancy.
In order that my further references may be to familiar material, I must now ask my readers to lay aside this pamphlet, and replace it for sometime with Gradiva, which first appeared in the book-world in 1903. To those who have already read Gradiva, I will recall the content of the story in a short epitome, and hope that their memory will of itself restore all the charm of which the story is thereby stripped.
A young archaeologist, Norbert Hanold, has discovered at Rome, in a collection of antiques, a bas-relief which attracts him so exceptionally that he is delighted to be able to get an excellent plaster-cast of it which he can hang up in his study in a German university-city, and study with interest. The relief represents a mature, young girl walking. She has gathered up her voluminous gown slightly, so that her sandaled feet become visible. One foot rests wholly on the ground; the other is raised to follow and touches the ground only with the tips of the toes while sole and heel rise almost perpendicularly. The unusual and especially charming walk represented had probably aroused the artists attention and now, after so many centuries, captivates the eye of our archaeological observer.
This interest of the hero in the described bas-relief is the basic psychological fact of our story. It is not immediately explicable. Doctor Norbert Hanold, docent of archaeology, really found in the relief nothing noteworthy for his science. (Gradiva, p. 5.) He could not explain what quality in it had aroused his attention; he knew only that he had been attracted by something and this effect of the first view had remained unchanged since then, but his imagination does not cease to be occupied with the relief. He finds in it a sense of present time as if the artist had fixed the picture on the street from life. He confers upon the girl represented walking a name, Gradiva, the girl splendid in walking, spins a yarn that she is the daughter of a distinguished family, perhaps of a patrician ædile, whose office was connected with the worship of Ceres, and is on the way to the temple of the goddess. Then it is repulsive to him to place her in the mob of a metropolis, rather he convinces himself that she is to be transported to Pompeii and is walking there somewhere on the peculiar stepping-stones which have been excavated; these made a dry crossing possible in rainy weather, and yet also afforded passage for chariot-wheels. The cut of her features seems to him Greek, her Hellenic ancestry unquestionable. All of his science of antiquity gradually puts itself at the service of this or other fancies connected with the relief.
Then, however, there obtrudes itself upon him a would-be scientific problem which demands solution. Now it is a matter of his passing a critical judgment whether the artist had reproduced Gradivas manner of walking from life. He cannot produce it in himself; in the search for the real existence of this gait, he arrives only at observation from life for the purpose of enlightenment on the matter (G. p. 9). This forces him, to be sure, to a mode of action utterly foreign to him. Women had formerly been for him only a conception in marble or bronze, and he had never given his feminine contemporaries the least consideration. Society life has always seemed to him an unavoidable torture; young ladies whom he meets, in such connections, he fails to see and hear, to such a degree that, on the next encounter, he passes without greeting, which, of course, serves to place him in an unfavorable light with them. Now, however, the scientific task which he has imposed upon himself forces him in dry weather, but especially in wet weather, to observe diligently the feet of ladies and girls on the street, an activity which yields him many a displeased, and many an encouraging glance from those observed. Yet one was as incomprehensible to him as the other. (G. p. 10.) As a result of these careful studies, he finds that Gradivas gait can not be proved to exist really, a fact which fills him with regret and annoyance.
Soon afterwards he has a terribly frightful dream, which transports him to old Pompeii on the day of the eruption of Vesuvius, and makes him an eye-witness of the destruction of the city. As he stood thus at the edge of the Forum near the Jupiter temple, he suddenly saw Gradiva a short distance in front of him. Until then no thought of her presence there had moved him, but now suddenly it seemed natural to him, as she was, of course, a Pompeiian girl, that she was living in her native city and, without his having any suspicion of it, was his contemporary. (G. p. 11.) Fear about her impending fate draws from him a cry of warning, in answer to which the unperturbed apparition turns her face toward him. Unconcerned, she continues her way to the portico of the temple, sits down there on a step and slowly rests her head upon it, while her face keeps growing paler, as if it were turning to white marble. As he hastens after her, he finds her, with calm countenance, stretched out, as if sleeping, on the broad step; soon the rain of ashes buries her form.
When he awakes, he thinks he is still hearing the confused cries of the Pompeiians, who are seeking safety, and the dully resounding boom of the turbulent sea; but even after his returning senses have recognized these noises as the waking expressions of life in the noisy metropolis, he retains for some time the belief in the reality of what he has dreamed; when he has finally rid himself of the idea that he was really present, nearly two thousand years ago, at the destruction of Pompeii, there yet remains to him, as a firm conviction, the idea that Gradiva lived in Pompeii and was buried there in the year 79. His fancies about Gradiva, due to the after-effects of this dream, continue so that he now, for the first time, begins to mourn her as lost.
While he leans from his window, prepossessed with these ideas, a canary, warbling his song in a cage at an open window of the house opposite, attracts his attention. Suddenly something like a thrill passes through the man not yet completely awakened from his dream. He believes that he sees, in the street, a figure like that of his Gradiva, and even recognizes the gait characteristic of her; without deliberation he hastens to the street to overtake her, and the laughter and jeers of the people, at his unconventional, morning attire, first drive him quickly back home. In his room, it is again the singing canary in the cage who occupies him and stimulates him to a comparison with himself. He, too, is sitting in a cage, he finds, yet it is easier for him to leave his cage. As if from added after-effect of the dream, perhaps also under the influence of the mild spring air, he decides to take a spring trip to Italy, for which a scientific motive is soon found, even if the impulse for travel had originated in a nameless feeling. (G. p. 21.)
We will stop a moment at this most loosely motivated journey and take a closer look at the personality, as well as the activities of our hero. He seems to us still incomprehensible and foolish; we have no idea of how his special folly is to acquire enough human appeal to compel our interest. It is the privilege of the author of Gradiva to leave us in such a quandary; with his beauty of diction and his judicious selection of incident, he presently rewards our confidence and the undeserved sympathy which we still grant to his hero. Of the latter we learn that he is already destined by family tradition to be an antiquarian, has later, in isolation and independence, submerged himself completely in his science, and has withdrawn entirely from life and its pleasures. Marble and bronze are, for his feelings, the only things really alive and expressing the purpose and value of human life. Yet, perhaps with kind intent, Nature has put into his blood a thoroughly unscientific sort of corrective, a most lively imagination, which can impress itself not only on his dreams, but also on his waking life. By such separation of imagination and intellectual capacity, he is destined to be a poet or a neurotic, and he belongs to that race of beings whose realm is not of this world. So it happens that his interest is fixed upon a bas-relief which represents a girl walking in an unusual manner, that he spins a web of fancies about it, invents a name and an ancestry for it, and transports the person created by him into Pompeii, which was buried more than eighteen hundred years ago. Finally, after a remarkable anxiety-dream he intensifies the fancy of the existence and destruction of the girl named Gradiva into a delusion which comes to influence his acts. These performances of imagination would appear to us strange and inscrutable, if we should encounter them in a really living person. As our hero, Norbert Hanold, is a creature of an author, we should like to ask the latter timidly if his fancy has been determined by any power other than his own arbitrariness.
We left our hero just as he is apparently being moved by the song of a canary to take a trip to Italy, the motive for which is apparently not clear to him. We learn, further, that neither destination nor purpose are firmly established in his mind. An inner restlessness and dissatisfaction drive him from Rome to Naples and farther on from there; he encounters the swarm of honeymoon travelers and, forced to notice the tender Augustuses and Gretchens, is utterly unable to understand the acts and impulses of the couples. He arrives at the conclusion that, of all the follies of humanity, marriage, at any rate, took the prize as the greatest and most incomprehensible one, and the senseless wedding trips to Italy somehow capped the climax of this buffoonery. (G. p. 28.) At Rome, disturbed in his sleep by the proximity of a loving couple, he flees, forthwith, to Naples, only to find there another Augustus and Gretchen. As he believes that he understands from their conversation that the majority of those bird-couples does not intend to nest in the rubbish of Pompeii, but to take flight to Capri, he decides to do what they do not do, and finds himself in Pompeii contrary to expectations and intentions a few days after the beginning of his journey,without, however, finding there the peace which he seeks.
The rôle which, until then, has been played by the honeymoon couples, who made him uneasy and vexed his senses, is now assumed by house-flies, in which he is inclined to see the incarnation of absolute evil and worthlessness. The two tormentors blend into one; many fly-couples remind him of honeymoon travelers, address each other probably, in their language, also as My only Augustus and My sweet Gretchen.
Finally he cannot help admitting that his dissatisfaction was certainly caused not by his surroundings alone, but to a degree found its origin in him. (G. p. 35.) He feels that he is out of sorts because he lacks something without being able to explain what.
The next morning, he goes through the ingresso to Pompeii and after taking leave of the guide, roams aimlessly through the city, notably, however, without remembering that he has been present in a dream some time before at the destruction of Pompeii. Therefore in the hot, holy hour of noon, which the ancients, you know, considered the ghost-hour, when the other visitors have taken flight and the heap of ruins, desolate and steeped in sunlight, lies before him, there stirs in him the ability to transport himself back into the buried life, but not with the aid of science. What it taught was a lifeless, archaeological view and what came from its mouth was a dead, philological language. These helped in no way to a comprehension with soul, mind and heart, as the saying is, but he, who possessed a desire for that, had to stand alone here, the only living person in the hot noonday silence, among the remains of the past, in order not to see with physical eyes nor hear with corporeal ears. Thenthe dead awoke, and Pompeii began to live again. (G. p. 45.) While thus, by means of his imagination, he endows the past with life, he suddenly sees, indubitably, the Gradiva of his bas-relief step out of a house and buoyantly cross the lava stepping-stones, just as he had seen her in the dream that night when she had lain down to sleep on the steps of the Apollo temple. With this memory he became conscious, for the first time, of something else; he had, without himself knowing the motive in his heart, come to Italy on that account and had, without stop, continued from Rome and Naples to Pompeii to see if he could here find trace of herand that in a literal sense,for, with her unusual gait, she must have left behind in the ashes a foot-print different from all the others (G. p. 47).
The suspense, in which the author of Gradiva has kept us up to this point, mounts here, for a moment, to painful confusion. Not only because our hero has apparently lost his equilibrium, but also because, confronted with the appearance of Gradiva, who was formerly a plaster-cast and then a creation of imagination, we are lost. Is it a hallucination of our deluded hero, a real ghost, or a corporeal person? Not that we need to believe in ghosts to draw up this list. Jensen, who named his tale a Fancy has, of course, found no occasion, as yet, to explain to us whether he wishes to leave us in our world, decried as dull and ruled by the laws of science, or to conduct us into another fantastic one, in which reality is ascribed to ghosts and spirits. As Hamlet and Macbeth show, we are ready to follow him into such a place without hesitation. The delusion of the imaginative archaeologist would need, in that case, to be measured by another standard. Yes, when we consider how improbable must be the real existence of a person who faithfully reproduces in her appearance that antique bas-relief, our list shrinks to an alternative: hallucination or ghost of the noon hour. A slight touch in the description eliminates the former possibility. A large lizard lies stretched out, motionless, in the sunlight; it flees, however, before the approaching foot of Gradiva and wriggles away over the lava pavement. So, no hallucination; something outside of the mind of our dreamer. But ought the reality of a rediviva to be able to disturb a lizard?
Before the house of Meleager Gradiva disappears. We are not surprised that Norbert Hanold persists in his delusion that Pompeii has begun to live again about him in the noon hour of spirits, and that Gradiva has also returned to life and gone into the house where she lived before the fateful August day of the year 79. There dart through his mind keen conjectures about the personality of the owner, after whom the house may have been named, and about Gradivas relation to the latter; these show that his science has now given itself over completely to the service of his imagination. After entering this house, he again suddenly discovers the apparition, sitting on low steps between two yellow pillars. Spread out on her knees lay something white which he was unable to distinguish clearly; it seemed to be a papyrus sheet (G. p. 54). Taking for granted his most recent suppositions about her ancestry, he speaks to her in Greek, awaiting timorously the determination of whether the power of speech may, perhaps, be granted to her in her phantom existence. As she does not answer, he changes the greeting to Latin. Then, from smiling lips, come the words If you wish to speak with me, you must do so in German.
What embarrassment for us, the readers! Thus the author of Gradiva has made sport of us and decoyed us, as if by means of the refulgence of Pompeiian sunshine, into a little delusion so that we may be milder in our judgment of the poor man, whom the real noonday sun actually burns; but we know now, after recovering from brief confusion, that Gradiva is a living German girl, a fact which we wish to reject as utterly improbable. Reflecting calmly, we now await a discovery of what connection exists between the girl and the stone representation of her, and of how our young archaeologist acquired the fancies which hint at her real personality.
Our hero is not freed so quickly as we from the delusion, for, Even if the belief brought happiness, says our author, it assumed everywhere, in the bargain, a considerable amount of incomprehensibility. (G. p. 109.) Besides, this delusion probably has subjective roots of which we know nothing, which do not exist for us. He doubtless needs trenchant treatment to bring him back to reality. For the present he can do nothing but adapt the delusion to the wonderful discovery which he has just made. Gradiva, who had perished at the destruction of Pompeii, can be nothing but a ghost of the noon hour, who returns to life for the noon hour of spirits; but why, after the answer given in German, does the exclamation escape him: I knew that your voice sounded like that? Not only we, but the girl, too, must ask, and Hanold must admit that he has never heard her voice before, but expected to hear it in the dream, when he called to her, as she lay down to sleep on the steps of the temple. He begs her to repeat that action, but she then rises, directs a strange glance at him, and, after a few steps, disappears between the pillars of the court. A beautiful butterfly had, shortly before that, fluttered about her a few times; in his interpretation it had been a messenger from Hades, who was to admonish the departed one to return, as the noon hour of spirits had passed. The call, Are you coming here again to-morrow in the noon hour? Hanold can send after the disappearing girl. To us, however, who venture a more sober interpretation, it will seem that the young lady found something improper in the request which Hanold had made of her, and therefore, insulted, left him, as she could yet know nothing of his dream. May not her delicacy of feeling have realized the erotic nature of the request, which was prompted, for Hanold, only by the connection with his dream?
After the disappearance of Gradiva, our hero examines all the guests at the Hotel Diomed table and soon also those of Hotel Suisse, and can then assure himself that in neither of the only two lodgings known to him in Pompeii is a person to be found, who possesses the most remote resemblance to Gradiva. Of course, he had rejected, as unreasonable, the supposition that he might really meet Gradiva in one of the two hostelries. The wine pressed on the hot soil of Vesuvius then helps to increase the days dizziness.
The only certainty about the next day is that Norbert must again be in Meleagers house at noon; and, awaiting the hour, he enters Pompeii over the old city-wall, a way which is against the rules. An asphodel cluster of white bell-flowers seems, as flower of the lower world, significant enough for him to pluck and carry away. All his knowledge of antiquity appears to him, however, while he is waiting, as the most purposeless and indifferent matter in the world, for another interest has acquired control of him, the problem, what is the nature of the physical manifestation of a being like Gradiva, dead and alive at the same time, although the latter was true only in the noon hour of spirits? (G. p. 64.) He is also worried lest to-day he may not meet the lady sought, because perhaps she may not be allowed to return for a long time, and when he again sees her between the pillars, he considers her appearance an illusion, which draws from him the grieved exclamation, Oh, that you were still alive! This time, however, he has evidently been too critical, for the apparition possesses a voice which asks him whether he wishes to bring her the white flower, and draws the man, who has again lost his composure, into a long conversation. Our author informs us, readers, to whom Gradiva has already become interesting as a living personality, that the ill-humored, and repellent glance of the day before has given way to an expression of searching inquisitiveness or curiosity. She really sounds him, demands, in explanation of his remark of the preceding day, when he had stood near her as she lay down to sleep, in this way learns of the dream in which she perished with her native city, then of the bas-relief, and of the position of the foot, which attracted the young archaeologist. Now she shows herself ready to demonstrate her manner of walking, whereby the substitution of light, sand-colored, fine-leather shoes for the sandals, which she explains as adaptation to the present, is established as the only deviation from the original relief of Gradiva. Apparently she is entering into his delusion, whose whole range she elicits from him, without once opposing him. Only once she seems to have been wrested from her rôle by a peculiar feeling when, his mind on the bas-relief, he asserts that he has recognized her at first glance. As, at this stage of the conversation, she, as yet, knows nothing of the relief, she must be on the point of misunderstanding Hanolds words, but she has immediately recovered herself again and only to us will many of her speeches appear to have a double meaning, besides their significance in connection with the delusion, a real, present meaning, as, for example, when she regrets that he did not succeed in confirming the Gradiva-gait on the street. What a shame; perhaps you would not have needed to take the long journey here. (G. p. 71.) She learns also that he has named the bas-relief of her Gradiva, and tells him that her real name is Zoë!
With the promise to be at the same place again on the morrow, she takes leave of him, after she has obtained the asphodel cluster. To those who are more fortunate one gives roses in spring, but for me the flower of oblivion is the right one from your hand. (G. p. 71.) Melancholy is suited to one so long dead, who has now returned to life for a few short hours.
We begin now to understand and to hope. If the young lady, in whose form Gradiva is again revived, accepts Hanolds delusion so completely, she does it probably to free him from it. No other course is open; by opposition, one would destroy that possibility. Even the serious treatment of a real condition of this kind could proceed no differently than to place itself first on the ground story of the delusion-structure, and investigate it then as thoroughly as possible. If Zoë is the right person, we shall soon learn how one cures delusions like those of our hero. We should also like to know how such a delusion originates. It would be very striking, and yet not without example and parallel, if the treatment and investigation of the delusion should coincide and, while it is being analyzed, result in the explanation of its origin. We have a suspicion, of course, that our case might then turn out to be an ordinary love story, but one may not scorn love as a healing power for delusions; and was not our heros captivation by the Gradiva-relief also a complete infatuation, directed, to be sure, at the past and lifeless?
After Gradivas disappearance, there is heard once more a distant sound like the merry note of a bird flying over the city of ruins. The man who has remained behind picks up something white, which Gradiva has left, not a papyrus leaf, but a sketch-book with pencil drawings of Pompeii. We should say that the fact that she has forgotten the little book, in this place, is a pledge of her return, for we assert that one forgets nothing without a secret reason or a hidden motive.
The remainder of the day brings to our hero all sorts of remarkable discoveries and facts, which he neglects to fit together. In the wall of the portico where Gradiva disappeared, he notices to-day a narrow cleft, which is, however, wide enough to afford passage to an unusually slender figure. He recognizes the fact that Zoë-Gradiva does not need to sink into the ground here, an idea which is so senseless that he is now ashamed of the discarded belief, but that she uses this route to go back to her tomb. A faint shadow seems to him to dissolve at the end of the Street of Tombs, before the so-called Villa of Diomede. Dizzy, as on the previous day, and occupied with the same problem, he wanders now about Pompeii, wondering of what physical nature Zoë-Gradiva may be and whether one might feel anything if one touched her hand. A peculiar impulse urges him to undertake this experiment and yet an equally great timidity in connection with the idea restrains him. On a hot, sunny slope he meets an older man who, from his equipment, must be a zoölogist or a botanist, and seems to be busy catching things. The latter turns to him and says, Are you interested in Faraglionensis? I should hardly have supposed it, but it seems thoroughly probable that they are found not only in the Faraglioni of Capri, but also dwell permanently on the mainland. The method suggested by my colleague, Eimer, is really good; I have already used it often with the best of success. Please remain quite still,(G. p. 76.) The speaker stops talking then, and holds a little snare, made of a long grassblade, before a narrow crevice, from which the blue, chatoyant, little head of a lizard peeps. Hanold leaves the lizard-hunter with the critical thought that it is hardly credible what foolishly remarkable purposes can cause people to make the long trip to Pompeii, in which criticism he does not, of course, include himself and his intention of seeking foot-prints of Gradiva in the ashes of Pompeii. The gentlemans face, moreover, seems familiar to him, as if he has noticed it casually in one of the two hotels; the mans manner of addressing him has also sounded as if directed at an acquaintance. As he continues his wandering, a side street leads him to a house not previously discovered by him; this proves to be the Albergo del Sole. The hotel-keeper, who is not busy avails himself of the opportunity to recommend highly his house and the excavated treasures in it. He asserts that he was present when there were found near the Forum the young lovers who, on realizing their inevitable destruction, had clasped each other in firm embrace and thus awaited death. Hanold has already heard of that before and shrugged his shoulders over it, as a fabulous invention of some especially imaginative narrator, but to-day the words of the hotel-keeper awaken in him credulity, which soon stretches itself more when the former brings forth a metal brooch encrusted with green patina, which, in his presence, was gathered, with the remains of the girl, from the ashes. He secures this brooch, without further critical consideration, and when, as he is leaving the hotel, he sees in an open window, nodding down, a cluster of white asphodel blossoms, the sight of the grave-flower thrills him as an attestation of the genuineness of his new possession.
With this brooch, however, a new delusion takes possession of him or, rather, the old one continues for a while, apparently not a good omen for the treatment which has been started. Not far from the Forum, a couple of young lovers were excavated in an embrace, and in the dream he saw Gradiva lie down to sleep in that very neighborhood, at the Apollo temple. Was it not possible, that in reality she went still farther from the Forum to meet there some one with whom she then died?
A tormenting feeling, which we can perhaps compare to jealousy, originates from this supposition. He appeases it by referring to the uncertainty of the combination, and so far regains his senses as to be able to have his evening meal in Hotel Diomed. His attention is attracted by two, newly-arrived guests, a man and a woman, whom, because of a certain resemblance, he considers brother and sisterin spite of the difference in the color of their hair. They are the first people whom he has encountered on this trip who seem possibly congenial. A red Sorrento rose, which the young girl wears, awakes in him some memoryhe can not recall what. Finally he goes to bed and dreams; it is remarkable nonsense, but apparently concocted of the days experiences. Somewhere in the sun Gradiva sat making a trap out of a blade of grass, in order to catch a lizard and she said, Please stay quite stillmy colleague is right; the method is really good, and she has used it with greatest success! He resists the dream, even in his sleep, with the criticism that it is, of course, utter madness, and he succeeds in getting rid of it with the aid of an invisible bird, who utters a short, merry call and carries the lizard away in his beak.
In spite of all this ghostly visitation, he awakes rather cleared and settled mentally. A rose-bush, which bears flowers of the kind that he noticed yesterday on the young lady, recalls to him that in the night, some one said that in the spring one gave roses. He plucks some of the roses, involuntarily, and there must be some association with these which has a liberating effect upon his mind. Rid of his aversion to human beings, he takes the customary road to Pompeii, laden with the roses, the brooch and the sketch-book, and occupied by the different problems relating to Gradiva. The old delusion has become full of flaws; he already doubts if she is permitted to stay in Pompeii in the noon hour only, and not at other times. Emphasis, on that account, is transferred to the object recently acquired, and the jealousy connected with it torments him in all sorts of disguises. He might almost wish that the apparition should remain visible to only his eyes and escape the notice of others; in that way, he might consider her his exclusive property. During his ramble awaiting the noon hour, he has a surprising encounter. In the Casa del Fauno he happens upon two people who doubtless believe themselves undiscoverable in a nook, for they are embracing each other and their lips meet. With amazement he recognizes in them the congenial couple of yesterday evening; but for brother and sister their present position, the embrace and the kiss are of too long duration. So it is a couple of lovers, probably a young bridal-couple, another Augustus and Gretchen. Strange to relate, the sight of this now arouses in him nothing but pleasure, and fearful, as if he had disturbed a secret act of devotion, he withdraws unobserved. A deference which has long been lacking in him has been restored.
Arriving at Meleagers house, he is afraid that he may find Gradiva in the company of another man, and becomes so excited about it that he can find no other greeting for her than the question: Are you alone? With difficulty she makes him realize that he has picked the roses for her; he confesses to her the latest delusion, that she is the girl who was found in the Forum in her lovers embrace and to whom the green brooch had belonged. Not without mockery, she inquires if he found the piece in the sun. The latterhere called Solebrings to light many things of that sort. As cure for the dizziness, which he admits, she proposes to him to share a lunch with her and offers him half of a piece of white bread wrapped in tissue paper; the other half of this she consumes with apparent appetite. Thereat her faultless teeth gleam between her lips and, in biting the crust, cause a slight crunching sound. To her remark, It seems to me as if we had already eaten our bread thus together once two thousand years ago. Cant you remember it? (G. p. 93) he cannot answer, but the strengthening of his mind by the nourishment, and all the evidences of present time in her do not fail to have effect on him. Reason stirs in him and makes him doubt the whole delusion that Gradiva is only a noonday Ghost; on the other hand, there is the objection that she, herself, has just said that she had already shared her repast with him two thousand years ago. As a means of settling this conflict there occurs to him an experiment which he executes with slyness and restored courage. Her left hand, with its slender fingers, is resting on her knees, and one of the house-flies, about whose boldness and worthlessness he formerly became so indignant, alights on this hand. Suddenly Hanolds hand rises and claps, with no gentle stroke, on the fly and on Gradivas hand. This bold experiment affords him twofold success, first the joyous conviction that he actually touched a really living, warm hand, then, however, a reprimand, before which he starts up in terror from his seat on the step. For from Gradivas lips come the words, after she has recovered from her amazement, You are surely apparently crazy, Norbert Hanold.
Calling a person by name is recognized as the best method of awakening him, when he is sleeping, or of awakening a somnambulist. Unfortunately we are not permitted to observe the results, for Norbert Hanold, of Gradivas calling his name, which he had told to no one in Pompeii. For at this critical moment, the congenial lovers appear from the Casa del Fauno and the young lady calls, in a tone of pleasant surprise, Zoë! You here, too? and also on your honeymoon? You have not written me a word about it, you know! Before this new proof of the living reality of Gradiva, Hanold flees.
Zoë-Gradiva, too, is not most pleasantly surprised by the unexpected visit which disturbs her, it seems, in an important piece of work. Soon composed, she answers the question with a glib speech, in which she informs her friend, and especially us, about the situation; and thereby she knows how to get rid of the young couple. She extends her compliments, but she is not on her wedding-trip. The young man who just went out is laboring also under a remarkable delusion; it seems to me that he believes a fly is buzzing in his head; well, every one has, of course, some kind of bee in his bonnet. As is my duty, I have some knowledge of entomology and can, therefore, be of a little service in such cases. My father and I live in the Sole; he, too, had a sudden and pleasing idea of bringing me here with him if I would be responsible for my own entertainment and make no demands upon him. I said to myself that I should certainly dig up something interesting alone here. Of course I had not reckoned at all on the find which I madeI mean the good fortune of meeting you, Gisa. (G. p. 97.) Zoë now feels obliged to leave at once, to be company for her father at the Sole. So she goes, after she has introduced herself to us as the daughter of the zoölogist and lizard-catcher, and has admitted in ambiguous words her therapeutic intentions and other secret ones. The direction which she takes is not that of the Sun Hotel, in which her father is awaiting her, but it seems to her, too, that in the region of the Villa of Diomede a shadowy form is seeking its burial-place and disappears under one of the monuments; therefore, with foot poised each time almost perpendicularly, she directs her steps to the Street of Tombs. Thither, in shame and confusion, Hanold has fled, and is wandering up and down in the portico of the court without stopping, occupied with settling the rest of his problem by mental efforts. One thing has become unimpeachably clear to him; that he was utterly foolish and irrational to believe that he communed with a young Pompeiian girl who had become more or less physically alive, again; and this clear insight into his madness forms incontestably an essential bit of progress in the return to sound reason. On the other hand, however, this living girl, with whom other people also communicate, as with one of a corporeal reality like theirs, is Gradiva, and she knows his name; for the solution of this riddle his scarcely awakened reason is not strong enough. Emotionally, also, he is not calm enough to be equal to so difficult a task, for he would most gladly have been buried two thousand years ago in the Villa of Diomede, only to be sure of never meeting Zoë-Gradiva again. A violent longing to see her struggles, meanwhile, with the remnants of the inclination to flee, which has persisted in him.
Turning at one of the four corners of the colonnade, he suddenly recoils. On a fragmentary wall-ruin there sits one of the girls who met death here in the Villa of Diomede; but that attempt to take refuge again in the realm of madness is soon put aside; no, it is Gradiva, who has apparently come to give him the last bit of her treatment. She interprets rightly his first instinctive movement to flee, as an attempt to leave the place, and points out to him that he cannot escape, for outside a frightful cloudburst is in progress. The merciless girl begins the examination with the question as to what he intended in connection with the fly on her hand. He does not find courage to make use of a definite pronoun, but acquires the more valuable kind needed to put the deciding question.
I wasas they saysomewhat confused mentally and ask pardon that Ithe handin that wayhow I could be so stupid, I cant understandbut I cant understand either how its owner could use my name in upbraiding me for mymy madness. (G. p. 105.)
Your power of understanding has not yet progressed that far, Norbert Hanold. Of course, I cannot be surprised, for you have long ago accustomed me to it. To make that discovery again I should not have needed to come to Pompeii, and you could have confirmed it for me a good hundred miles nearer.
Miss Bertgangs answer shows then that other relations besides those of neighborliness have existed between them. She knows how to intercede for the familiar manner of address, which he has, of course, used to the noonday spirit, but withdrawn again from the living girl; she makes former privileges of use to her here. If you find that form of address more suitable between us, I can use it too, you know, but the other came to me more naturally. I dont know whether I looked different when we used to run about before with each other as friends, every day, and occasionally beat and cuffed each other for a change, but if, in recent years, you had favored me with even one glance you might perhaps have seen that I have looked like this for a long time.
A childhood friendship had therefore existed between the two, perhaps a childhood love, from which the familiar form of address derived its justification. Isnt this solution perhaps as superficial as the one first supposed? The fact that it occurs to us that this childhood relation explains in an unexpected way so many details of what has occurred in the present intercourse between them makes the matter essentially deeper. Does it not seem that the blow on Zoë-Gradivas hand which Norbert Hanold has so splendidly motivated by the necessity of solving, experimentally, the question of the physical existence of the apparition, is, from another standpoint, remarkably similar to a revival of the impulse for beating and cuffing, whose sway in childhood Zoës words have testified to? And when Gradiva puts to the archaeologist the question whether it does not seem to him that they have once already, two thousand years ago, shared their luncheon, does not the incomprehensible question become suddenly senseful, when we substitute for the historical past the personal childhood, whose memories persist vividly for the girl, but seem to be forgotten by the young man? Does not the idea suddenly dawn upon us that the fancies of the young man about his Gradiva may be an echo of his childhood memories? Then they would, therefore, be no arbitrary products of his imagination, but determined, without his knowing it, by the existing material of childhood impressions already forgotten, but still active in him. We must be able to point out in detail the origin of these fancies, even if only by conjecture. If, for instance, Gradiva must be of pure Greek ancestry, the daughter of a respected man, perhaps of a priest of Ceres, that predisposes us fairly well for an after-effect of the knowledge of her Greek nameZoë, and of her membership in the family of a professor of zoölogy. If, however, these fancies of Hanolds are transformed memories, we may expect to find in the disclosures of Zoë Bertgang, the suggestion of the sources of these fancies. Let us listen; she tells us of an intimate friendship of childhood; we shall soon learn what further development this childhood relation had in both.
Then up to the time when people call us Backfisch, for some unknown reason, I had really acquired a remarkable attachment for you and thought that I could never find a more pleasing friend in the world. Mother, sister, or brother I had not, you know; to my father a slow-worm in alcohol was far more interesting than I, and people (I count girls such) must surely have something with which they can occupy their thoughts and the like. Then you were that something, but when archaeology overcame you, I made the discovery that youexcuse the familiarity, but your new formality sounds absurd to meI was saying that I imagined that you had become an intolerable person, who had no longer, at least for me, an eye in his head, a tongue in his mouth, nor any of the memories that I retained of our childhood friendship. So I probably looked different from what I did formerly for when, occasionally, I met you at a party, even last winter, you did not look at me and I did not hear your voice; in this, of course, there was nothing that marked me out especially, for you treated all the others in the same way. To you I was but air, and you, with your shock of light hair, which I had formerly pulled so often, were as boresome, dry and tongue-tied as a stuffed cockatoo and at the same time as grandiose as anarchaeopteryx; I believe the excavated antediluvian bird-monster is so called; but that your head harbored an imagination so magnificent as here in Pompeii to consider me as something excavated and restored to lifeI had not surmised that of you; and when you suddenly stood before me unexpectedly, it cost me some effort at first to understand what kind of incredible fancy your imagination had invented. Then I was amused and, in spite of its madness, it was not entirely displeasing to me. For, as I said, I had not expected it of you. (G. p. 107.)
So she thus tells us clearly enough what, with the years, has become of the childhood friendship for both of them. With her it expanded into an intense love affair, for one must have something, you know, to which one, that is, a girl, pins her affections. Miss Zoë, the incarnation of cleverness and clarity, makes her psychic life, too, quite transparent for us. If it is already the general rule for a normal girl that she first turns her affection to her father, she is especially ready to do it, she who has no one but her father in her family; but this father has nothing left for her; the objects of science have captured all his interest. So she has to look around for another person and clings with especial fervor to the playmate of her youth. When he, too, no longer has any eyes for her, it does not destroy her love, rather augments it, for he has become like her father, like him absorbed by science and, by it, isolated from life and from Zoë. So it is granted to her to be faithful in unfaithfulness, to find her father again in her beloved, to embrace both with the same feeling as we may say, to make them both identical in her emotions. Where do we get justification for this little psychological analysis, which may easily seem autocratic? In a single, but intensely characteristic detail the author of the romance gives it to us. When Zoë pictures for us the transformation of the playmate of her youth, which seems so sad for her, she insults him by a comparison with the archaeopteryx, that bird-monster which belongs to the archaeology of zoölogy. So she has found a single, concrete expression for identifying the two people; her resentment strikes the beloved as well as the father with the same word. The archaeopteryx is, so to speak, the compromise, or intermediary representation in which the folly of her beloved coincides with her thought of an analogous folly of her father.
With the young man, things have taken a different turn. The science of antiquity overcame him and left to him interest only in the women of bronze and stone. The childhood friendship died, instead of developing into a passion, and the memories of it passed into such absolute forgetfulness that he does not recognize nor pay any attention to the friend of his youth, when he meets her in society. Of course, when we continue our observations, we may doubt if forgetfulness is the right psychological term for the fate of these memories of our archaeologist. There is a kind of forgetting which distinguishes itself by the difficulty with which the memory is awakened, even by strong objective appeals, as if a subjective resistance struggled against the revival. Such forgetting has received the name repression in psychopathology; the case which Jensen has presented to us seems to be an example of repression. Now we do not know, in general, whether, in psychic life, forgetting an impression is connected with the destruction of its memory-trace; about repression we can assert with certainty that it does not coincide with the destruction, the obliteration, of the memory. The repressed material cannot, as a rule, break through, of itself, as a memory, but remains potent and effective. Some day, under external influence, it causes psychic results which one may accept as products of transformation or as remnants of forgotten memories; and if one does not view them as such, they remain incomprehensible. In the fancies of Norbert Hanold about Gradiva, we thought we recognized already the remnants of the repressed memories of his childhood friendship with Zoë Bertgang. Quite legitimately one may expect such a recurrence of the repressed material, if the mans erotic feelings cling to the repressed ideas, if his erotic life has been involved in the repression. Then there is truth in the old Latin proverb which was perhaps originally aimed at expulsion through external influences, not at inner conflict: You may drive out natural disposition with a two-pronged fork, but it will always return, but it does not tell all, announces only the fact of the recurrence of repressed material, and does not describe at all the most remarkable manner of this recurrence, which is accomplished as if by malicious treason; the very thing which has been chosen as a means of repression,like the two-pronged fork of the proverbbecomes the carrier of the thing recurring; in and behind the agencies of repression the material repressed finally asserts itself victoriously. A well-known etching by Félicien Rops illustrates this fact, which is generally overlooked and lacks acceptance, more impressively than many explanations could; and he does it in the typical case of the repression in the lives of saints and penitents. From the temptations of the world, an ascetic monk has sought refuge in the image of the crucified Savior. Then, phantom-like, this cross sinks and, in its stead, there rises shining, the image of a voluptuous, unclad woman, in the same position of the crucifixion. Other painters of less psychological insight have, in such representations of temptation, depicted sin as bold and triumphant, near the Savior on the cross. Rops, alone, has allowed it to take the place of the Savior on the cross; he seems to have known that the thing repressed proceeds, at its recurrence, from the agency of repression, itself.
If Norbert Hanold were a living person, who had, by means of archaeology, driven love and the memory of his childhood friendship out of his life, it would now be legitimate and correct that an antique relief should awaken in him the forgotten memory of the girl beloved in his childhood; it would be his well-deserved fate to have fallen in love with the stone representation of Gradiva, behind which, by virtue of an unexplained resemblance, the living and neglected Zoë becomes effective.
Miss Zoë, herself, seems to share our conception of the delusion of the young archaeologist, for the pleasure which she expresses at the end of her unreserved, detailed and instructive lecture is hardly based on anything other than her readiness to refer his entire interest in Gradiva to her person. This is exactly what she does not believe him capable of and what, in spite of all the disguises of the delusion, she recognizes as such. Her psychic treatment of him has a beneficent effect; he feels himself free, as the delusion is now replaced by that of which it can be only a distorted and unsatisfactory copy. He immediately remembers and recognizes her as his good, cheerful, clever comrade who has not changed essentially; but he finds something else most strange
That a person must die to become alive again; says the girl, but for archaeologists, that is, of course necessary. (G. p. 110.) She has apparently not yet pardoned him for the détour which he made from the childhood friendship through the science of antiquity to this relation which has recently been established.
Even we are not prepared for that. Our hero begins to rise from his humility and to play an active rôle. He is, apparently, entirely cured of his delusion, lifted far above it, and proves this by tearing asunder the last threads of the web of delusion. Patients, also, who have been freed from the compulsion of their delusion, by the disclosure of the repression behind it, always act in just that way. When they have once understood, they themselves offer the solutions for the last and most significant riddles of their strange condition in suddenly emerging ideas. We had already believed, of course, that the Greek ancestry of the mythical Gradiva was an after-effect of the Greek name, Zoë, but with the name, Gradiva, we had ventured nothing; we had supposed it the free creation of Norbert Hanolds imagination and behold! this very name now shows itself to be a remnant, really a translation of the repressed family-name of the supposedly forgotten beloved of his youth.
The derivation and solution of the delusion are now completed. What follows may well serve as a harmonious conclusion of the tale. In regard to the future, it can have only a pleasant effect on us, if the rehabilitation of the man, who formerly had to play the lamentable rôle of one needing to be cured, progresses, and he succeeds in awakening in the girl some of the emotions which he formerly experienced. Thus it happens that he makes her jealous by mentioning the congenial young lady, who disturbed them in Meleagers house, and by the acknowledgment that the latter was the first girl who had impressed him much. When Zoë is then about to take a cool departure, with the remark that now everything is reasonable again, she herself not least of all, that he might look up Gisa Hartleben, or whatever her name might now be, and be of scientific assistance to her about the purpose of her stay in Pompeii, but she has to go now to the Albergo del Sole where her father is already waiting for her at lunch, perhaps they may see each other again sometime at a party in Germany or on the moon, he seizes upon the troublesome fly as a means of taking possession of her cheek, first, and then of her lips, and assumes the aggressive, which is the duty of a man in the game of love. Only once more does a shadow seem to fall on their happiness, when Zoë reminds him that now she must really go to her father, who will otherwise starve in the Sole. Your fatherwhat will he? (G. p. 115.)
But the clever girl knows how to silence the apprehension quickly: Probably he will do nothing; I am not an indispensable piece in his zoölogical collection; if I were, my heart would probably not have clung to you so unwisely. Should the father, however, by way of exception, in this case, have an opinion different from hers, there is a sure method. Hanold needs only to go over to Capri, there catch a lacerta faraglionensis, for which purpose he may practise the technique on her little finger, then set the animal free again here, catch it before the eyes of the zoölogist and give him the choice of the faraglionensis on the mainland or his daughter, a proposal in which mockery, as one may easily note, is combined with bitterness, an admonition to the betrothed, also, not to follow too closely the model after which his beloved has chosen him. Norbert Hanold sets us at rest on this matter, as he expresses, by all sorts of apparently trivial symptoms, the great transformation which has come over him. He voices the intention of taking a wedding trip with his Zoë to Italy and Pompeii, as if he had never been indignant at the newly-married travelers, Augustus and Gretchen. His feelings towards this happy couple, who so unnecessarily traveled more than one hundred miles from their German home, have entirely disappeared from his memory. Certainly the author is right when he cites such weakening of memory as the most valuable mark of a mental change. Zoë replies to the announced desire about the destination of their journey, by her childhood friend who had, in a way, also been excavated from the ashes, (G. p. 117), that she does not yet feel quite alive enough for such geographical decision.
Beautiful reality has now triumphed over the delusion. Yet an honor still awaits the latter before the two leave Pompeii. When they have arrived at the Hercules Gate, where, at the beginning of the Strada Consolare, old stepping-stones cross the street, Norbert Hanold stops and asks the girl to go ahead. She understands him, and raising her dress slightly with her left hand, Gradiva rediviva Zoë Bertgang, viewed by him with dreamily observing eyes, crossed with her calmly buoyant walk, through the sunlight, over the stepping-stones. With the triumph of eroticism, what was beautiful and valuable in the delusion is now acknowledged.
With the last comparison of the childhood friend excavated from the ashes, the author of the story has, however, put into our hand the key of the symbolism which the delusion of the hero made use of in the disguise of the repressed memory. There is no better analogy for repression, which at the same time makes inaccessible and conserves something psychic, than the burial which was the fate of Pompeii, and from which the city was able to arise again through work with the spade. Therefore in his imagination the young archaeologist had to transport to Pompeii the original figure of the relief which reminded him of the forgotten beloved of his youth. Jensen, however, had a good right to linger over the significant resemblance which his fine sense traced out between a bit of psychic occurrence in the individual and a single historical event in the history of man.