Academic journal article British Journal of Canadian Studies

The Politics of Cultural Mediation: Baroness Elsa Von Freytag-Loringhoven and Felix Paul Greve

Academic journal article British Journal of Canadian Studies

The Politics of Cultural Mediation: Baroness Elsa Von Freytag-Loringhoven and Felix Paul Greve

Article excerpt

Paul Hjartason and Tracy Kulba (eds), The Politics of Cultural Mediation: Baroness Elsa von Freytag-Loringhoven and Felix Paul Greve (Edmonton: University of Alberta Press and Canadian Review of Comparative Literature/ Revue Canadienne de Littérature Comparée, 2003), xxxv + 212 pp. Paper. $29.95. ISBN 0-8886-4412-4.

In many ways, The Politics of Cultural Mediation is a valuable contribution to the booming field of culture studies - but also has serious weaknesses. This collection of investigative essays is the first ever book placing side by side the canonised Canadian author Frederick Philip Grove (or fpg; originally Felix Paul Greve, a German novelist, poet, and translator; 1879-1948) and his one-time lover/alleged wife, Else Plötz (a German actress and muse-figure, later known as New York Dada-artist Baroness Elsa von Freytag-Loringhoven; 1874-1927). Since both their cross-continental biographies are fascinating yet incompletely known, the book achieves the 'thickening' and networking of impressions and information it aims for. Irene Gammel, in 'Baroness Elsa's Gender Performance', outlines how the Baroness 'pioneered a new art' (p. 22) by posing as an often shockingly androgynous work of art herself. In 'Two Glimpses of the Baroness', Klaus Martens searches for clues as to Else's early, semi-serious theatrical engagements in Cottbus. Jutta Ernst discusses Greve's failed attempts at establishing himself as a littérateur on the German market, while Paul Morris unveils Oscar Wilde's influence on Grove's first Canadian novel, Settlers of the Marsh (1925). The most refreshing addition to the complex picture of fpg is, in my eyes, Paul Hjartason's 'Out of the Wastage of All Other Nations', which contextualises the German immigrant's standing and fashioning of a new ethnic identity in the politically unstable, increasingly racist 1920s Manitoba. For his English translation of Greve's crucially self-revealing treatise, 'Randarabesken zu Oscar Wilde' ('Marginalia in Arabesque'), Morris deserves praise, for being modern, yet skilfully faithful to the original spirit. Virtually unavailable for a century, the inclusion and translation of this 1903 document represents this collection's main attraction. …

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