Thursday, December 26, 2013

Doctor Faustus : chapter 19 : Esmeralda

Henri de Toulouse Lautrec
What a chapter !

A summary to begin with :

So it turns out that one year later AL revisits the Leipzig Bordello to meet the girl that” brushed his face with her arm”. How he manages to describe the working - girl, he met a year earlier, to get her whereabouts is a bit beyond me. Let’s not forget that the name Esmeralda, is what HE calls her IN HIS MIND. We don’t know the nut-brown lass’ real name or even her nickname. In any case, the girl does not work in the Leipzig Maison anymore. Being infected with siphilis, she has been dismissed. AL does manage to get her new ( working ? ) adres.

He traces her all the way back to the town of Pressburg . AL desires to have intercourse with her even though she is siphilitic. She warns him about her infection but then yields to his advances and they have unprotected sex with each other.

Al returns to Leipzig. He is infected and he seeks medical treatment, but the doctors keep dissapearing and a cure is made impossible through strange coincidences. Neither rational Humanism ( Doctor Erasmi ) nor magic ( Dr. Zimbalist ) can help AL.

19.1 About Esmeralda

Her name is not Esmeralda

She is not Spanish, she wears a Spanish jacket
She is wearing a “Spanish” jacket which is a short outdoor jacket ( of Spanish origin, hence the name ) , fasted down the chest in the front and then sloping away to the back ending at waist level. Worn over a closely fitted bodice extending past the waisteline over the hips, ( a basque ) it is a rather elegant, sexy prop for a professional girl.

The short jacket opening to the front could be used by the girl as a captivating play to slowly unveil, button by button, a healthy bosom, while still exposing and  flaunting her “derrière”.

The nut-brown lass with the large mouth has switched quarters to Pressburg, which is today’s Bratislava, the capital of Slowakia. Why the narrator  mentions that Hungarians call it Poszony is not clear to me. Pressburg is not in Hungary.

If she is not Spanish, is she a Slavic girl then ? Is the true German blood of AL infected by a poison from the East ?  Is this what Oswald Spengler means with Asian degenerative force ? Is the lass another ill Clawdia ?

She stroke his cheek with her bared arm …a vulgarly tender expression

Still, the movement would be akward. It is not as personal as fingertips touching his lips or so…Her touch may have been accidental.

19.2 About the musical signature.

It is a bit confusing : Hetaera esmeralda would be H EAEA EEAA ? AL sticks to the 5 first letters : Hetaera.

Which Anglo Saxons call B… – strange remark…

Why would SZ mention this in a draft of the biography he is writing in German and at a moment that the third Reich is still on the rise? Makes no sense to me, should have been a footnote by translator.

19.3 About the Doctors Erasmi and Zimbalist

Both the description of their features and the way they appear and dissapear, make me conclude that both of them are two more apparitions – avatars of the Devil. In chapter 25, the Devil will  morph three times in one single evening, and so I advance the theorie that the Devil has been constantly been present as a string of different appearances.

- Dr. Zimbalist : short man, horn  rimmed glasses, on oval of bald framed between reddish hair and a “Hitler- type” moustache, manly quips and bad puns, a tic that lifted one cheek and a corner of the mouth, while the eyes jointed in a squint, gave him a problematic sour uneasiness and touchiness that boded no good.

- Dr Eramus : A puffing heavy-set man with a red face and black goatee . Pouted lips.. and difficulty to bend over…( because of his limp ? )

- The Porter of Leipzig speaking a devilish tongue, jutting bristled jaw – looked somewhat like our Schleppfuss , small beard – looked right like Schleppfuss  , a bit stouter and fatter

- Baworinski, presiding officer of Winfried,  a tall dark fellow , concealed eyes, kept his mouth puckered as if for a whistle ( puckered mouth / pouting mouth to kiss the Devil's anus.

- Schleppfuss ( see earlier )

- Kretzschmar, what about Kretzschmar’ stuttering ?

19.4 About the diffference with the Nietzsche anecdote

- During Nietzsche’s accidental visit of the bordello, he has sex with one of the girls, on the spur of the moment, without much ado. The siphilitic infection is accidental.

- AL has fled the first night to come back a year later. So this time, it is with premonition. His girl warns him that she is infected but he doesn’t care about it.

19.5 Why did AL do it ?

Out of Romantic love ? (This is the interpretation by SZ ). Out of a false sense of Romantic ideals challenging a “Liebestod”  “The poor creature had feelings that responded to those the young man extended to her. And, good heavens was it not Love as well ?”


Out of Adolescent Lust  – loss of control,  possessed by sexual desire as advanced by JP Anderson ? I do not think so. If that was the case Al would have liberated his urge with any other girl in any other Bordello.


In search of a genial creativity boost ? Al wants to get infected, he seeks to get infected , not as a Freudian death urge, but as a sacrifice in exchange for Musical Genious. Is this the Faustian pact ? Is Hitler the Siphilitic component that will give Germany his “ Third Reich geniality” before it succumbs to it’s dreadful infection ?

19.6 About the cover story of the Austrian premiere of Salome ( Graz 16 May 1906 )

Salome, Op. 54, is an opera in one act by Richard Strauss to a German libretto by the composer, based on Hedwig Lachmann's German translation of the French play Salomé by Oscar Wilde.

When Richard Strauss conducted his opera Salome on May 16, 1906, in the provincial Austrian city of Graz, several leading figures in European music gathered to witness the event. The première of Salome had taken place five months before, in Dresden, and word had got out that Strauss had created something beyond the pale—an ultra-dissonant Biblical spectacle, based on a play by an Irish degenerate whose name was not mentioned in polite company; a work so frightful in its depiction of adolescent lust that imperial censors had banned it from the Court Opera in Vienna.

( See Alex Ross : The rest is noise )

The opera is famous (at the time of its premiere, infamous) for its "Dance of the Seven Veils". It is now better known for the more shocking final scene (often a concert-piece for dramatic sopranos), where Salome declares her love to – and kisses – the severed head of John the Baptist.

That Adrian’s cover up to meet the girl of his dreams, is that he going to watch, on his own, a sick stiptease show which ends with an act of necrophilia is rather funny

19.7 The devil is in the details.

The real Hitler was probably in Graz too, watching Salome, on May 16, 1906. It is unlikely that Thomas Mann knew that in 1943…