How Theodor Herzl initiated the serialized publication of Wilhelm Jensen's "Gradiva" in the Viennese newspaper "Neue Freie Presse"

Essay, 2015

12 Pages


Theodor Herzl, Wilhelm Stekel, and Wilhelm Jensen>s Gradiva [1]

In November 1901 the German writer Wilhelm Jensen received the following letter:[2]

Neue Freie Presse [New Free Press]

Redaction [Editorial Board]

Wien [Vienna]

Highly esteemed Sir,

I am your old admirer - for the last 25 years B a[nd] since I am as Feuilleton-Editor of the N Fr Presse now in the process of establishing a Sunday (novel) section, I am remembering the old sweet stories Drei Sonnen [Three Suns] Sonne u. Schatten [Sun and Shadows][3] etc. Would you write for us a novel in that for me unforgettable genre? Because of certain space considerations it may not be longer than 1000 - 1200 printed lines.


Yours truly

25 XI 901 Theodor Herzl

How did Herzl>s admiration for Jensen come about? In his later so-called AYouth DiariesA[4] Herzl in 1882 spent some time discussing the writings of Wilhelm Jensen (1837-1911), a German writer whom he appeared to have loved and admired. Especially his poetry found Herzl>s approval, but he also dealt in his notes with the novel, The Jews of Cologne [ADie Juden von Cölln@] (1869), which included depressing descriptions of ghetto conditions in the Middle Ages.

It is not known if Herzl wrote to Jensen in 1882; he seemed to assume, however, that Jensen knew who he was.

Three more letters by Herzl to Jensen followed in February and March of 1902:

Neue Freie Presse [New Free Press]

Redaction [Editorial Board]

Wien [Vienna]

Honoured Doctor,

the acceptance of novels is decided by the publishers Dr. Bacher and Benedikt[5], and these gentlemen have still more work to do than I, who even with the editing of the Feuilleton section am heavily enough burdened. In order to ease the reading of the manuscript for the gentlemen, I have had your dense handwriting transcribed into printed letters, and this book is now with Mr. M. Benedikt whom I have today again asked urgently for a decision. The great difficulty is in this case the volume of the work. It is a fully grown novel. I had initially asked you for a novelette and specifically - if my memory does not fail me - referred to your stories which I had enjoyed in my youth. You have submitted a longer novelette a[nd] a work by such an esteemed author cannot just be disregarded out of hand. The problem is only that the decision concerning novels is for the aforementioned a[nd] still other reasons very time consuming. We have, e.g., already publication obligations (Wilbrandt and Truth[6] etc.) which extend over a longer period of time. I beg you not to consider this as the beginning of a rejection or as an excuse. I only describe how we stand at the moment. I have this desire the more as the delayed decision which came about without my fault has been troubling me for some time.

The publishers with whom I spoke today about this matter also assure me that they have the wish to accept your novel. Mr. Benedikt promised me the decision within a week.

Since, however, he has the book in typewriting, I can in any case return your original manuscript today to you, because you perhaps worry about it. When the novel is published by us you will receive on demand in any case the proof sheets daily for corrections.

Your wholly dedicated

10 II 902 Th. Herzl

Neue Freie Presse [New Free Press]

Redaction [Editorial Board]

Wien [Vienna]

Very honoured Sir,

this letter is unusually bitter for me. I have delayed it since my return from day to day. But this does not make the matter better but worse.

The publishers of our newspaper cannot bring themselves to acquire your AMutterrecht@[7]. As a novelette it is much too long a[nd] in our novel section - in which we bring pieces by Ohnet![8] - it does not fit.

For this you were surely prepared from the beginning, because you did not send the originally requested short (i.e. completed in 1 or 2 instalments) novelette, but this longer work. What has to be excused and what I would like to excuse with these open lines is the duration of the reply. Please consider kindly that the two gentlemen, who in addition to me make the decision in such cases, are badly overworked a[nd] stay up night after night. The management of a large newspaper takes a terrible toll on the people who run it.

Now, if we could not bring this story B perhaps you can please us with a short one. Three to four hundred lines can be accommodated immediately. I would urgently wish even for this because it would be the best proof for me that you are not angry

with your you sincerely admiring

7 III 902 Theodor Herzl

Neue Freie Presse [New Free Press]

Redaction [Editorial Board)]

Wien [Vienna] 12 III 902

Very honoured Sir,

your manuscript is welcome. We feel ourselves so much in your debt that this fact alone guarantees a quick decision.

In sincere admiration



What manuscript could Jensen have sent to the Neue Freie Presse (NFP) ? Thanks to the Austrian National Library, the full text of the NFP has been available online since July 2008.[10] It is thus possible to go through the issues of the paper for 1902. If the NFP had accepted Jensen=s unnamed manuscript for publication, it would surely have been printed within a few months after Herzl=s letter. After checking in vain the newspaper's issues for April and May 1902 for a clue, this author found on June 1 what he had been looking for. On Page 1 of Nr. 13566 of the NFP appeared the following announcement:


in the

Sunday Edition:

Page 33, 34 and 35

AG r a d i v a.@


Wilhelm Jensen.

On page 33 of the Sunday Edition of the NFP of June 1, 1902 began the first installment of A Gradiva. A novel by Wilhelm Jensen@.[11] This was followed by seven more installments, ending on July 20, 1902.

Since Sigmund Freud=s analysis of Gradiva forms part of the canon of psychoanalysis, the fact that it had appeared in the Viennese NFP eight months prior to the book version (by Carl Reissner Verlag in Dresden/Leipzig), is significant. Among others there arises the question: Did Theodor Herzl see, read, shorten, possibly alter Jensen's manuscript? Did he see in the novella only Aan old sweet story@ or did he realize that there was some relevance to Freud's work? How great was Herzl=s interest in the work of Freud?

We don't know (yet) who prepared Jensen's manuscript for publication by the NFP . A comparison between the newspaper and the book version of Gradiva shows many spelling changes. For example, many Ae's@ are missing in the NFP text, such as in Aand(e)rerseits@, etc. All letters AßA in the newspaper version were replaced by Ass@ in the book; the old-fashioned Ah@ (altert(h)ümlich) was omitted. Other than that, however, the book version is practically identical with the newspaper version, that is, it was neither expanded nor otherwise altered. Important differences between newspaper and book are shown in Appendix AC@. They have not been translated. Some are clearly errors by the Viennese typesetter: June 1, p. 35, Ahalb grüßendA (Ahalf greeting@) becomes in the book Ahalb grinsendA (Ahalf smirking@), June 20, p. 31, Atragischer WassersturzA (Atragical waterfall@) was changed to read Atropischer Wassersturz@ (Atropical water- fall@) , which surely makes more sense. The misspelling of ABertgang@ as ABartgang@, pp. 31 and 33, is obvious.

The most important and significant difference between the newspaper and the book versions consists of o n e word: In the NFP on page 33, third column on June 15 we find: A. . . almost entirely the still fresh morning air was filled with English or American AGeplauder@, i.e., small talk; in the book version, however, this word was changed to AGEQUADDER@.[12] This word AGequadder@ must have been placed there by Wilhelm Jensen. It is quite unthinkable that a typesetter in Dresden/Leipzig would on his own and without Wilhelm Jensen's approval have substituted this word for AGeplauder@. It is much more likely that AGequadder@, which means rather foolish or idle talk, would have been the word used by Wilhelm Jensen in his manuscript, but that a Viennese editor (Herzl?) or typesetter had on his own, not knowing or liking the word, used AGeplauder@, a rather colourless term, instead. AGequadder@ is used mainly in the Rhineland, and Jensen may have heard this expression from his parents-in-law who were Rhinelanders; he may just as easily have heard it from his good friend Wilhelm Raabe.[13]

In any case it seems certain that although Theodor Herzl initiated the contact with Wilhelm Jensen, probably read the manuscript of Gradiva, and was responsible for the printing of the novel in the NFP in the summer of 1902, he had made no substantial changes in the text with the possible exception of AGequadder@.

A still unanswered question is the time-line of the publication of Gradiva. Since the book version of the novel came out in February 1903, preparation for the printing must at the latest have begun at the time it appeared in the NFP. It is possible that Wilhelm Jensen had negotiated with Carl Reissner Verlag concerning the publication of Gradiva while at the same time offering the work to the Neue Freie Presse in Vienna for serialization. Such a proceeding was not unusual at the time. A positive reception of the newspaper series by the public might also have encouraged Carl Reissner Verlag to publish the novel; it had published several works by Jensen before. Because the archives of both publishers have been lost,[14] we cannot be certain.

In March, probably of the year 1903, shortly after the publication of the book, Wilhelm Jensen received the following letter:[15]


[1] Wilhelm Jensen, Gradiva. Ein pompejanisches Phantasiestück (Dresden/Leipzig: Verlag Carl Reissner, 1903). Cited as Gradiva.

[2] This and the following three handwritten Herzl letters are in the Schleswig-Holsteinische Landesbibliothek Kiel, Jensen-Nachlass, Signatur CB 28.56:238.01. Their German texts are found in Appendix AA@.

[3] Drei Sonnen, (Schwerin, 1873); Sonne und Schatten (Berlin, 1873)

[4] Theodor Herzl, Briefe und Autobiographische Notizen 1866-1895, ed. Alex Bein, Hermann Grieve, Moshe Schaerf, Julius H. Schoeps, First vol. (Berlin: Propyläen, 1983), pp 598-610, Feb. 3-8, 1882.

[5] Dr. Eduard Bacher (1846-1908), Editor-in-chief and publisher of the Neue Freie Presse, Dr. Moriz Benedikt (1849-1920), Editor-in-chief of the Neue Freie Presse.

[6] Adolf von Wilbrandt (1837-1911); Truth, pseudonym for Gertrud Pinkus (1867-1927)

[7] Published in 1903 in Berlin.

[8] George Ohnet (1848-1918), French writer

[9] For the German text of the Herzl letters see Appendix AA@ . They have been translated by this author.

[10] Under http:/ - ANeue Freie Presse (NFP)@

[11] Note the absence of the subtitle, AA Pompeiian Phantasy@, which was used in the book version of 1903.

[12] Gradiva, p. 46, 5th line from the top.

[13] Wilhelm Raabe used this expression to denigrate some of his earlier works. See his letter of April 3, 1872 to Wilhelm and Marie Jensen (W. Raabe, Sämtliche Werke, K. Hoppe, ed., Vol. 3, 1970. Briefwechsel Raabe-Jensen, p. 171.) Marie Jensen also used "Gequadder" in her letters to Raabe on June 2, 1873, p. 197 ("kein Gequadder", i.e. "no idle chatter") and December 17, 1874 to , p. 235 (Agenug des Gequadders@, Aenough of the chatterA.

[14] According to a statement by the present Viennese Presse from July 2012 to the present author, Athe archive of the Neue Freie Presse has since the closing and dismantling of the firm by the National-Socialist regime in 1939 disappeared.@

[15] Trans. by the present author, a great-grandson of Wilhelm Jensen. The German text is found in Appendix ABA.

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How Theodor Herzl initiated the serialized publication of Wilhelm Jensen's "Gradiva" in the Viennese newspaper "Neue Freie Presse"
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Der Author Hartmut Heyck ist ein Urenkel von Wilhelm Jensen. Kürzlich erschien von ihm eine Übersetzung ins Englische von Wilhelm Jensens ÜBERMÄCHTE, welche die beiden Novellen "Der rote Schirm" und "Im gotischen Hause" enthält, unter dem Titel SUPERIOR POWERS.(Amazon/Createspace) - Der von Hartmut Heyck leicht modernisierte deutsche Urtext, auch bei Amazon/Createspace erschienen, kann auch via Buchhandlungen bestellt werden.
Theodor Herzl, Li, Wilhelm Stekel, Wilhelm Jensen, GRADIVA
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M.A. (History) Hartmut Heyck (Author), 2015, How Theodor Herzl initiated the serialized publication of Wilhelm Jensen's "Gradiva" in the Viennese newspaper "Neue Freie Presse", Munich, GRIN Verlag,


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