ME & MY MOM: NEGLECTED BOOK

There is a new (February, 2016) review of Me & My Mom, on Neglected Books. Excellent review, and I must own up to being the person who is working on the Hauser Wikipedia article, and it’s slow going! Me & My Mom is out of print but easy to get. I’ve found it in used bookstores in New York. (The Strand, I think).2015-05-03 01.21.43

Alice S. Morris on Hauser

Alice S. Morris wrote this piece for the Dictionary of Literary Biography Yearbook series. She was not 17 when she was commissioned to travel by the Swiss newspaper but in her early twenties.

Hauser, teaching at Queens College, 1974
Hauser, teaching at Queens College, 1974

Marianne Hauser

(11 December 1910-   )

Alice S. Morris

SELECTED BOOKS: Monique (Zurich:  Ringier, 1934);
Shadow Play in India (Vienna: Zinnen, 1937);
Dark Dominion (New York: Random House, 1947); The Living Shall Praise Thee (London:  Gollancz, 1957); republished as The Choir Invisible (New York: McDowell Obolensky, 1958);
Prince Ishmael (New York: Stein & Day, 1963; Lon­don: Joseph, 1964);
A Lesson in Music (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1964);
The Talking Room (New  York:  Fiction  Collective, 1976).
OTHER: “ASHES: a fragment from a novel in the making,” in Statements II , New Fiction (New York: Fiction Collective, 1977), pp. 141-144; “Marianne   Hauser   Introduces   Lee   Vassel,”   in Writers Introduce Writers, edited by E. B. Richie and F. B. Claire  (New  York:  Groundwater Press, 1980), p. 75.
PERIODICAL PUBLICATIONS:
Fiction:
“The Colonel’s Daughter,” The Tiger’s Eye , 3 (March 1948): 21-34;
“The Sun and the Colonel’s Button,” Botteghe Os­cure , 12 (Fall 1953): 255-272;
“The Seersucker Suit,” The Carleton Miscellany, 9 (Fall 1968): 2-14
Nonfiction:
“Marrakesh: Descent into Spring,” Harper’s Bazaar, 3054 (May  1966): 188-203;
“Mimoun of the Mellah, “Harper’s Bazaar, 3061 (De­cember 1966): 114-182.

Marianne Hauser was born and raised in Strasbourg, Alsace, within range of the city’s great bell-haunted cathedral. At seventeen, already a fluent writer in French and German, she was com­missioned by a Swiss publication to travel in China, India, and Egypt-and, when she was twenty-six, to the United States, where she “fell in love with the language.”
Her two earliest novels, published in Zurich and Vienna, have not been translated into English. On the evidence of Dark Dominion (1947), her first American novel, however, one might think English her mother tongue. Her use of it is impeccable and spontaneous; ingeniously her prose depicts the vertiginous relationships between a nondreaming New York dream-analyst; his wife, whom he wins  when he analyzes her dreams; the wife’s obsessively devoted brother; and her overtly matter-of-fact lover who is covertly consulting the analyst. The individual fantasies by which this quartet insulate themselves against reality are explored with com­ passion and comic gusto.
The role of fantasy, both as insulation and as a means of instilling life with excitement, is a theme central to Marianne Hauser’s fiction -one aspect of what she sees as the individual’s desperate, often humorous struggle to wrest some acceptable meaning from existence and “build a Heaven in Hell’s despair.” In his review of Dark Dominion for the Chicago Tribune Paul Engel wrote: “I cannot believe that the year will produce a richer, more original novel by any writer, new or old .”
A small midwestern town in America’s “Bible belt” is the setting of The Choir Invisible ( 1958), for which the author received a Rockefeller grant. “The fantasy of Main Street,” she notes, “exceeds that of the Cathedral of Strasbourg in all its Gothic elab­oration.” Floyd Walker, a young bank clerk and choirmaster, told that he has leukemia and three months to live, resolves to live his remaining time to the hilt. His dramatic shift of gears, as well as his mortal predicament, makes him the cynosure of the town of Ophelia. He quits his wife and children to run off with a local beautician; becomes the confi­dant of a lady reincarnationist who claims to have dined with  a pharaoh; is taken up by a worldly family named Wisdom, in whose far-flung domicile the local intelligentsia gather for luminous evenings by the fire; and embarks on escapades with his won­ drous, all-accepting Aunt Ada. Ironically, Floyd winds up where he started: still alive, and restored to his family.
An exalted sense of joy pervades this novel where the end of the road seems forever to lead into a new, astonishing beginning, and the satire reveals how the same event can be both beautiful and foolish, poignant and absurd. The author’s view is always positive. Her wit echoes with humility, her irony with wonder. On the dust jacket of The Choir Invisible Mari Sandoz says that the author “lets the reader see through her talented and ironic Euro­pean eye, and writes the story with the wit and poetic horseplay of her adopted America.”
Prince Ishmael ( 1963), which was nominated for the Pulitzer prize, unfolds in early nineteenth­ century Nuremberg, where Caspar Hauser (no re­lation, but a figure the author has lifted out of German legend) appears at the city gates, a “totter­ing spook” of sixteen, clotted with mud and forced to shield his eyes from the light. He can neither speak nor walk properly, knows neither who he is nor whence he came. His origin remains a taunting mystery. Is he a princeling ripped from his cradle and reared in a cave? Is he a charlatan, a con man, a pauper? The old schoolmaster who stays with Cas­ par when he is thrust into jail- who teaches him the alphabet, mathematics, and the names of the Muses from the constellations visible at night between the prison bars-believes Caspar to be an angel.
As these tantalizing conjectures proliferate, Caspar becomes the darling of Nuremberg’s hoi polloi and its elite. He is feted at balls, courted by earls and countesses; then, to his astonishment and dismay, he is jettisoned, sent packing, to a humble job in the small town of Ansbach. As abruptly as they originally flocked to him, his idolaters, unable to solve his enigma, have fallen away. The only person left to him is the police inspector who has tailed him relentlessly- his shadow, his double, Caspar surmises, perhaps his only true father. In the novel’s closing passage, Caspar lies dying, struck down in the snow by an unknown assailant, and the inspector, donning his quarry’s discarded rose­ embroidered vest, becomes indeed Caspar’s mirror image:

“He thinks I don’t hear him because I am asleep, because I’m dead. They all think that of me, that I hear nothing when my ears are so clever, I can hear the harebells ring under the snow. . . .” His figure, distant, mi­ nute in the glass, begins to shake. But perhaps only the glass shakes. For his hand seems steady enough as he picks up the scissors and holds them poised, a little above his chest, while he feels for the beat of his heart with the left hand, standing there with the hand on his heart almost . . . like an ancient knight or saint. The briefest interval of remorse or wonder. Already he is thrusting out his right arm savagely, ready to plunge the scissors through my spoiled garden into his heart to prove to the world- what? What? My own heart stops. I raise my head and cry, “No!”-the first word I have said to him through all these frozen hours, this longest night. Just one word, no, but no means yes, stay, live, you are my shadow. You’re all I ever had, maybe. . . . Already our eyes have met in the mirror. He drops the scissors. And like two conspirators we smile.”

Are we smiling still? I can’t say. My head is back on the wet pillow. Now I can rest in peace, and my mind is an hourglass filling with snow. “Good night, son. Until tomorrow.” He has thrown his dark cape over his shoulders. Is he wearing my vest under the cape, my wounded rose on his heart? That too I cannot tell. I have forgotten. His shadow cape flies out the door into this frozen night where the street lamp, a lighted hedgehog or crown, bristles among the uncountable stars.
In his review of Prince Ishmael in the New York Times Gene Baro wrote that “Hauser succeeds in fusing the fantastic and the ordinary. If her theme is informed with wit, her purpose is serious.” On the dust jacket of the British edition, novelist Mary Re­ nault described Prince Ishmael as “a strange, lyrical and haunting book, written with great vividness and beauty.”
In 1964 A Lesson in Music, a group of Hauser’s short stories, was published. Anais Nin commented: “When people will tire of noise, crassness and vul­garity, they will hear the truly contemporary com­plexities of Marianne Hauser’s superimpositions. A new generation trained to imagery by the film may appreciate her offbeat characters and skill in por­traying the uncommon.”
The Talking Room (1976), Marianne Hauser’s most recent novel, for which she received a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts, is told through the voice of B, a thirteen-year-old, over­weight, sex-smitten, pregnant girl who listens from her upstairs bedroom to all that transpires below in the “talking room.” She has been begotten-via test tube? adoption? sexual intercourse?- to bestow an aura of propriety to the lesbian menage of her mother, J (“wild, lost, beautiful”) and Aunt V, a successful real estate operator. Their household in New York’s West Village proposes comedy as well as chaos. In the previous decade, Piscataway real estate has risen in property and house values – as an example. The narration alternates between the outra­geous and the bawdy yet branches out into passages of pathos and surpassing tenderness that absolve the protagonists’ transgressions.
The story ends with J’s homecoming after one of her periodic and protracted prowls through sleazy bars and flea-bitten hotels- outings that have Aunt V distractedly combing the waterfront and B, from loneliness, indulging her gluttony. At last, B sees J in her doorway:

“Hi, kid, mom whispered as she crept into my room out of the rain which had fallen through so many nights, had perhaps started that night when she had last disappeared, or so it seems to me now. Her rain-glazed face was swimming out of the door frame, toward my bed. And there was on her breath that mysterious odor I well remember from other nights when she’d surface after her trip through oblivion: an odor no longer of gin but of something more highly distilled, rarefied, and almost otherworldly like a liquid reserved for angels. Rain dripped from her poncho onto my face, my eyes as she was standing over me, trying to smile. Hi, kid. Hi, Mom. My face was wet with rain.”

“The beauty and magic of The Talking Room,” Larry McCaffery writes in Contemporary Literature (Winter 1978), “is difficult to analyze. The key would seem to be in the book’s extraordinary prose patterns, which create in their complex, interre­lated images a sustained vision of loneliness, the desire for love, and the necessity for escape, and always a haunting,  dreamlike lyricism.”
Since coming to the United States in 1937, Marianne Hauser has lived in Greenwich Village and, with her former husband, musician and com­ poser Frederick Kirchberger, in the South and Midwest. She has spent time in the Pacific North­ west and Alaska with her son, Michael, a filmmaker; has traveled from Spain to North Africa, and from Yucatan through Guatemala to Peru. In the spring of 1980 she visited Brazil. Her spontaneous travels are reflected in her books, especially her story col­lection, A Lesson in Music.
For the past fifteen years her permanent ad­dress has been Manhattan; she has taught at QueensCollege (1966-1978) and New York University ( 1979). At present she lectures, studies Tai Chi, and, under an NEA grant, is completing a new novel: “The Memoirs of the Late Mr. Ashley.” The nar­rator, an actor manque, is dead and cremated, his ashes lost. But his voice- mischievous, arch, and inescapable- is fiercely alive, directing his own doom (or salvation?); his tragicomic figure emerges as the prototype of today’s antihero.
As a private individual, Marianne Hauser is by nature adventurous, intrepid, intelligent, and witty. She is adamant and active in her stand against war and discrimination. Irreverent, even mocking, to­ ward accepted norms, she finds pretense a subject for ridicule. The only thing she holds sacred is the human being- hapless, abused, absurd, and beautiful.
dlb.yb.ashley.
 

 

 

 

 

References:
“Anais Nin on Marianne Hauser,” in Rediscoveries, edited by David Madden (New York: Crown, 1971), pp. 115-120;
John Tytell, “666 Words on Marianne Hauser,” in A Critical Ninth Assembling , edited by Richard Kostelanetz    (Brooklyn:    Assembling    Press,    1979).
Papers:
A collection of Marianne Hauser’s manuscripts is at the University of Florida Library, Special Collec­tions.
Morris, Alice S. “Marianne Hauser.” Dictionary of Literary Biography 1983, 238-42. Detroit: Gale Research Company, 1984.

 

 

 

 

 

 

PRINCE ISHMAEL: REVIEWS

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Marianne Hauser. Prince Ishmael. New York. Stein & Day. 1963. 316 pages.
Reprinted, Los Angeles: Sun and Moon Classics Series, 1991.

PRINCE ISHMAEL is the work Marianne Hauser spent decades writing, the book that was in her mind before all others. Her uncle, Ludwig Hauser, gave her a two volume dossier on Kaspar Hauser, the legendary German foundling (no relation, but of course there had to be, and she later said that she WAS Kaspar) when she was a young teen. It was the book that was supposed to be her big success, published by Stein and Day, a publisher specializing in literary best sellers. It was shepherded into print by her friend and Harper’s Bazaar editor, Alice S. Morris, who published excerpts. As with all of her books she went through an agonizing process of rejection before placing it. And even more so than her other books she labored over its composition for many, many years, even publishing another novel, started later, first (The Choir Invisible, 1958). In Botteghe Oscuro (the Wikipedia article is here)…(The Sun and the Colonel’s Button. Botteghe Oscure 12, Fall 1953, 255-72.) she published the first chapter, but written in the third person. She writes of having a breakthrough and discovering the voice of Hauser, probably in 1953 or 1954. She worked on the book throughout the decade, abandoning it and returning to it. By the time she moved back to New York City in 1958 it was substantially complete. Here are some reviews, by her friend Harriet Zinnes (whom she taught with at Queens College, a poet), from the Saturday Review, a publication she reviewed for in the early forties,and Guy Davenport in The National Review:

Marianne Hauser. Prince Ishmael. New York. Stein & Day. 1963. 316 pages. $5.95. Although this is on the surface a historical novel about a young man who makes a strange appearance at the Nuremberg gates in the early years of the nineteenth century, the novel in texture and meaning is strikingly contempo­rary. Caspar Hauser, found in the dark, and completely dark about himself, symbolizes that terrible search for identity which becomes in our time and in this novel the search for the spiritual father. The whole mystery of the self and its inevitable confusion, the whole mystery of the acts of the self that turn present into past and leave no future, that make suspect and victim interchangeable and eccentrically iden­tical (“Had the whale swallowed Jonah? Had Jonah swallowed the whale?”)-these are the mysteries that are embodied in that angelic, naive, corrupting and corruptible youth Caspar Hauser. Marianne Hauser describes her narrative of today’s everyman in a style rich in suggestive­ness and poetic in expression-and finally, re­ligious in its assertion of the triumph of suffer­ing man: “You call me what you will, angel or liar, I may yet live forever, mark my word.”

Harriet Zinnes Queens College
Books Abroad, Vol. 39, No. 1 (Winter, 1965), p. 88

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Caspar Hauser was one of the most enigmatic figures of the nineteenth century. A semisavage and inarticulate young man, he first appeared in Nuremberg in 1828, spent five tortured years under the tutelage of various guardians, and then met an end as mysterious as his beginnings. Was he the disinherited scion of a ruling house, a charlatan, a madman, or perhaps all of these? Speculation ran high, and has continued to this day. Writers in Germany, France, and England were fascinated by the dark fate of the foundling, and the interpretations vary from the calme orphelin of Verlaine’s great poem to the saintly scapegoat of slothfulness of heart presented by the German novelist Jakob Wassermann.

In her new novel, Prince Ishmael (Stein & Day, $5.95), part of which appeared in Harper’s Bazaar, Marianne Hauser vividly recreates the brutish ambience of Caspar’s short life. Narrating the boy’s story from his point of view, she displays a keenness of psychological insight whose impact is immediate. However, her sympathetic evocation of the archetypal outcast does not merely present the “facts” of the case, but bestows upon the hero an aura of almost mythical grandeur. Caspar’s emergence from the womb of night, his mirror calligraphy, and his helpless groping in the labyrinth of his own mind symbolize the existential plight of man in a bewildering universe.

Miss Hauser’s probing analysis of character unfortunately is not matched by an equally acute sense of style, and now and then her prose verges on the sentimental, especially in passages of lyrically exalted nature mysticism. More successful is the surrealistic portrayal of the agony of a lost soul, oscillating between reality and appearance. Though Prince Ishmael implicitly criticizes the materialistic goals of a mechanized civilization, it never becomes harsh or aggressively polemic.

To make her plea for the confused and the oppressed of this earth, Miss Hauser prefers the more gracious art of symbolism. She thus recaptures the fervor with which the last century hailed Caspar Hauser, victim of Nuremberg, as “The Child of Europe,” and has erected another   monument to his memory.

Saintly Scapegoat, JOSEPH P. BAUKE.   Saturday Review, September 7, 1963 pp24, 35

macmillan.PI.rejection

The Multiple Man, by Guy Davenport, The National Review, October 8, 1963, Pp. 310-313.:

PI.Davenport.5

PI.Davenport.4

PI.Davenport.3

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HAUSER AND NIN

MARIANNE HAUSER AND ANAIS NIN AT THE BEACH PHOTO COURTESY OF MICHAEL KIRCHBERGER
MARIANNE HAUSER AND ANAIS NIN AT THE BEACH
PHOTO COURTESY OF MICHAEL KIRCHBERGER

Marianne Hauser was Anais Nin’s neighbor in New York. They lived at 2 Washington Square, a high rise apartment complex located south of Washington Square Park, and saw each other when Nin was in town, that is, when she wasn’t living in California with her west coast husband, actor Rupert Pole. Her east coast husband, Hugh Parker Guiler, also known as Ian Hugo, whom she lived with in Paris, was an artist, a film maker and print maker. Hauser got her apartment from her old friend Ruth Stephan. Stephan was publisher of the avant-garde art journal The Tiger’s Eye (1947-1949), a publication which featured Guiler’s prints and stories by Nin, Hauser and Marguerite Young, who was also the fiction editor.

It’s not really possible for me to say how Nin and Hauser met, when or where. It could have been in Paris in the 30s, New York in the 40s, 50s, or 60s. Material Michael Kirchberger scanned for me makes it possible to say it was long before the 1970s. Whenever it was they found time to go to the beach together. Nin and Hauser were not necessarily good personal friends, but they were certainly artistic allies, and shared many connections beyond Marguerite Young and Ruth Stephan. Nin never failed to mention Hauser when asked for the names of important writers. I have viewed this relationship through this lens, of a more prominent author (Nin) promoting the work of a less known, neglected one (Hauser). Nin is tirelessly generous. But there is evidence that earlier on Nin was asking Hauser for help placing a book of short stories (see the scanned, undated letter).
nin
Their relationship in print begins with The New Novel (Macmillan, New York, 1968), a book published by Nin in 1968. The final chapters of this book were first published in the inaugural issue of the literary journal Studies in the 20th Century (Russel Sage College, Spring 1968, edited by Stephen H. Cooke). Nin begins by saying she never intended to write any literary criticism, and then goes on to detail the difficulty she had getting her work published in the early forties, which she attributed to a general American hostility towards avant-garde European writing, particularly surrealism. Americans divided literature into realist and anti-realist schools, preferring the latter, whereas Europeans accepted a broader range of aesthetic practices. In the book she lays out a case for writers like Kafka, Joyce, Artaud, Proust, Stein etc. Hauser is mentioned in connection with Djuna Barnes and Anna Kavan, as well as Marguerite Young, whose Miss Macintosh My Darling had appeared two years previously. The comparisons are apt, as both havemany things in common with Hauser, but there are major differences as well, especially with Anna Kavan. Another writer mentioned by Nin is Isabel Bolton, another neglected writer of New York in the 40s who (like dawn Powell) has enjoyed a major revival of interest, if not sales. Nin writes of Hauser:

“A writer of exceptional style and subtlety is Marianne Hauser. When people will tire of noise, crassness, and vulgarity, they will hear the truly contemporary complexities of Marianne Hauser’s superimpositions. A new generation trained to imagery by the film may appreciate her offbeat characters and skill in portraying the uncommon.”

She then quotes The Other Side of the River, her O’Henry Prize story of 1948 (The Other Side of the River. Mademoiselle, (April 1948). Reprinted in Brickell, Herschel. 1948. Prize stories of 1948: the O. Henry Awards. Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday. Collected in A Lesson In Music. Austin: University of Texas Press, 1964. And The Collected Short Fiction of Marianne Hauser. Normal [Ill.]: FC2, 2004.), and mentions the 3 novels she had published in English at that point, Dark Dominion, The Choir Invisible, and Prince Ishmael.

Hauser returned the favor in Issue 2 of Studies in the 20th Century (Fall, 1968) with her piece, Anais Nin: Myth and Reality. The occasion is the publication of the first two volumes of Nin’s diary. When Hauser describes Nin she could be describing herself:

“…the very nature of her genius resists classification. She does not belong to a school. Strictly speaking, she does not even belong to one nationality. Born in France, of Spanish father, a Danish mother; long time resident of Paris; vagabond traveler; naturalized citizen of the United States: her roots grow from many cultures. Wherever she goes she creates her own international climate.”

Similarly with the style:

“Deterioration merges with glamor. The present flows into the past. Anais Nin’s concept of time is Bergson’s duree reelle—a phenomenon of the mind.”

Hauser mentions Otto Rank, the psychoanalyst Nin famously had an affair with, and whom Hauser also knew. In volume 7 of the diary Nin writes:

“Notes on Marianne Hauser [:] Sent to US in 1937 as a columnist by a Swiss newspaper. Has been here ever since. During this period she has been patiently refining the remarkable prose style of Dark Dominion….She knew Rank and was analyzed”

Hauser disputes this in About My Life So Far:
mh.onDD
Hauser never mentions psychoanalysis without palpable contempt. Thomas Spine, the psychiatrist in Dark Dominion, engages the reader’s pity at times, but he is a shallow rationalist with no personal insight. His relationship with his wife is parasitic. He is a sexless, Lawrencian head. Forty years later her Mr. Ashley repeatedly and explosively derides psychoanalysis. What she is attacking is the culture of therapy and the cultic, totalizing tendency of Freud and Freudians. Psychoanalysis in Dark Dominion destroys souls and is opposed to the imagination. It is the ultimate illusion, imprisoning human beings in a normative, ego driven sexuality and conformity. Nin and Hauser experience Rank as the opposite of this, a psychiatrist dedicated to the freeing of the creative imagination.

In 1971 Nin wrote a much more extended piece on Hauser for the book Rediscoveries (Crown Publishers, New York, 1971; some of the essays have been published online as people rediscover the authors rediscovered 45 years ago!), centered on A Lesson in Music, her short story collection of 1964:

“In the opening paragraph of Marianne Hauser’s book of short stories one becomes aware that a fine precision instrument has chiseled this prose, enabling to create physical and emotional portraits that have a crystalline transparency of image and meaning. The simplest of beginnings leads one into past, present and future, and a care for detail evokes the most variegated atmospheres. The interrelation between the outer and inner worlds of men and women, between dreaming and waking action is carefully balanced. The movements of love and hatred, espousal of and recoil from experience are faithfully delineated and made perceptible. Marianne Hauser achieves sensitivity without sentimentality, irony without loss of humanity.” (p. 116)

The essay discusses each of the stories and concludes with two paragraphs of description and praise. Nin, like everyone else who tries to describe Hauser’s work, has to somehow convey its anti-realist properties, which exist alongside an extremely precise prose of visual description and emotional nuance. Nin continues to champion Hauser in interviews, like this one for an oral history:
nin oral history quote
There is no evidence that Hauser sought in any way to exploit her friendship with her much more famous neighbor. When I asked Michael if Hauser was irritated either by Nin’s interest in women’s writing as a category, or by her fame he said his mother was very forgiving towards her friends. Nin and Hauser were both feminists of course, but neither were post-modern, and neither viewed sexuality or gender through the lenses of later generations, even though the only serious critical work on Hauser has been on The Talking Room and has been explicit in its association of her radical style with issues of gender and sexuality, a connection Hauser would have rejected out of hand. Not so Nin. Nin was very involved at the end of her life in women’s issues. She discusses gender and art extensively in a radio interview hosted by Charles Ruas, The Female Angst. One of Hauser’s colleagues at Queens College, poet Harriet Zinnes (a friend of both Nin and Hauser) wrote about this in an essay on Nin for the book Anais Nin: Literary Perspectives (Suzanne Nalbantian ed., St. Martin’s Press, New York, 1997):

“Adam Begley…defined rather crisply what he called ‘postmodernists’ notion of the self’ as a ‘fractured entity composed of socially constructed attitudes’. How unlike the conception of the self of Anais Nin. To Nin, the self is authentic only as it expresses that ‘city of the interior’, and in the real world of the diaries and the fleeting, wavering, shaped world of her fiction, the self, hardly postmodern, is not socially constructed, not fractured at all but a coherent home, a hearth, a womb of the senses. But this interiority is built on a trust in a reality and is essentially the consequence of an acceptance of outward experience that is transformed as it turns inward. That transformation is never made dull in Nin’s work by passivity. Nin builds architectonically from the dream outward. It is as if her fiction is built upon dialect, a tension between the outer and inner worlds. How unlike the Maoist psychoanalyst and semiotician of desire, the French Julia Kristeva, who, in her novel The Samurai, looks for ‘the calm safety of classical architecture and the rare equilibrium that transmutes geometry and happiness’….Of her own work, Nin declares in The Novel of the Future, ‘the external story is what I consider unreal’.”

Kristeva figures prominently in Andrea Harris’s analysis of The Talking Room (Other Sexes: Rewriting Difference from Woolf to Winterson, SUNY Press, 1999). Of Hauser and Nin, Zinnes quotes The New Novel and writes:
“The novelists of violence, Nin believes, of gutter language, use shock instead of feeling, dead language instead of the living rhythms of language, which is itself a form of magic and transformation. In her Novel of the Future, Nin quotes…Hauser to show that [she has] dwelled ‘on the pursuit of the hidden self’, [has] dramatized the conflict between the conscious and unconscious self to produce greater authenticity, an ‘emotional reality’….Marianne Hauser, a friend of Nin and author of Prince Ishmael and The Talking Room, in a brilliant story called ‘The Seersucker Suit’ illustrates what Nin means by ‘emotional reality’ in fiction. Hauser reveals the terror and loneliness of urban life through the symbolism of the magic birth of a dog-son from a mangy bit of old fur….Nin felt that Hauser’s writing acknowledged the truths of psychoanalysis, which, in the writing of fiction, required the novelist no longer to adhere to the old notions of a progressive plot, resolution, climax and development of character. Our desires are as much a reality as our throwing ourselves exhausted on the bed when we return from work. A scrap of fur becomes a child. This is not a literal transformation. It is the discovery of ‘reality by discarding realism’. It is the symbolic equation that the reader understands—because, as Nin makes clear in her critical writing and implicitly in her diaries, the self’s desires are nakedly the same for us all.”

Of course, The Talking Room and much of what she wrote afterwards is marked by verbal violence and shock. It is also difficult to reconcile what ‘psychoanalysis’ can possibly mean in this context. Like ‘communism’ or Christianity, psychoanalysis is not a monolith, and what artists like Nin and Hauser, deeply influenced by European thought and aesthetics, take from it has little to do with talk therapy and pat explanations of reality.

Zinnes met Nin in 1961, when she wrote a good review of Seductions of the Minotaur. Later, Nin suggested Zinnes review Prince Ishmael (1963) which led to their friendship. (Zinnes, in Recollections of Anais Nin, Benjamin Franklin ed., Ohio University Press, Athens, Ohio, 1996). This might when Nin sent this postcard to Hauser, with a photograph of Nin taken by Maya Deren:

COURTESY MICHAEL KIRCHBERGER
COURTESY MICHAEL KIRCHBERGER

On the flip side is a note written to Hauser by Nin asking her help in placing a collection of short stories with ‘Harper’s’. Hauser had been publishing Harper’s Bazaar for years. The card is undated. She asks Hauser to visit when she next passes through New York. Hauser lived in New York City from 1937-1947, 1957-1959, and from 1966 until her death in 2006.

COURTESY MICHAEL KIRCHBERGER
COURTESY MICHAEL KIRCHBERGER

 

LETTERS

COURTESY MICHAEL KIRCHBERGER
COURTESY MICHAEL KIRCHBERGER

Recently I spent 3 days in San Francisco and had an opportunity to visit with Marianne Hauser’s son, Michael. Most of Hauser’s papers are housed in the archive at the University of Florida, but Michael has boxes of photographs and some letters. He was kind enough to share them with me, and has been scanning material for me to post. Without Michael this whole crazy thing would have been much more difficult, even impossible. Most everyone who knew Hauser has died, and those living have scattered, imperfect memories, as do I. So it is great to be able to open a letter and confirm that so and so was her agent for such and such book, that editors who rejected Prince Ishmael were brokenhearted. Letters are going to be the backbone of this story, and most of them are sitting in Florida. But these were not. San Francisco is the only city outside of New York I can truly say I love. So visiting Michael is no hardship at all. My publisher Miette joined us for lunch. We hiked up an arid hill and watched F-14 fighter jets wack off in the stratosphere. And Michael and I talked.

COURTESY MICHAEL KIRCHBERGER
COURTESY MICHAEL KIRCHBERGER

One thing that came up, as it often does, is Marianne’s hostility to any kind of identity politics. She was Alsatian, certainly, but she was an author first and foremost and not a hyphenated one. Because I was in town to give a reading, I also saw an old friend who has run an alternative press for 30 years. She told me she participated in a LGBT panel to discuss LGBT issues in publishing. For years she has been a remarkably supportive publisher for that community. It has not been her exclusive work but work she is passionate about. At the conference it was discovered by other participants that she was a heterosexual. She never claimed otherwise, of course. She felt it was irrelevant. But some conference organizers and participants did not feel that way and ostracized her, despite decades of publishing gay, bi and trans authors, that is, putting her money where her mouth is. A friend later informed her that probably they felt like she had occupied a seat that could be occupied by a homosexual. I guess some chairs would rather be smothered by gay butt. She said that in the course of this conference it came up that many gay men don’t like it when straight women write from the point of view of a gay man. I said that straight women have more insight into the experiences of gay men than straight men do, and the women laughed. Most women have sucked a lot of dick, after all, and had boyfriends who were assholes. Seriously though, our emotional lives converge even where our experiences differ. Hauser spoke very forcefully against this kind of stupidity, as the previous post shows.
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Hauser knew many artists, many of them gay, and spent summers on Monhegan Island, Maine. One of these artists was William Kienbusch. Her last novel, Shoot Out with Father, was inspired by the relationship between Bill and his father. There are many letters written by Bill to Marianne.
Hauser did not believe it was right to use the artist’s life to explain her creations. But she did draw extensively on her life, as all novelists do. Once it becomes writing, art, it ceases to be about the life. The life is a starting point, and imagination takes over. Michael and I discussed how to honor this. I guess a corollary is, if an artist does significant work, and has an interesting life, and is no longer alive and able to control that situation, then in a sense it becomes fair game. Life may not explain the work, but it can contextualize it, while the work might fill in details of the life where the record of letters and memories do not. It is not that life happened in the way the plot of the novel does, but rather, the novel dramatizes the emotional situations of life. Life and work are really inseparable, and each can illuminate the other.

Hauser on Literary Cross Dressing

mh.crosdress.1940This piece, remarks delivered by Hauser at some public forum I can’t yet identify, convey (according to her son) what she was like in life, quick witted, funny, and impatient with moralizing idiots. This persona definitely comes through in her interviews but here she is engaged with an audience, and explains a fundamental part of her aesthetic: the imagination is capable of inhabiting, and expressing, the experience of others, not just the author. Fiction was her way of knowing things. Without this belief her entire body of work goes away, as she chose only twice to write novels (at least in English) from the point of view of a woman. These are The Talking Room (1976), whose narrator is a 13 year old American girl, pregnant, and being raised by lesbians, and Me and My Mom (1993), a story told by a woman in her 30s (I’m guessing, her age isn’t specified) who puts her old, and increasingly demented mother in a nursing home. Hauser dedicated the book to her old friend and mentor, Coby Gilman, who died in his seventies, alcoholic, and alone. Me and My Mom was published 26 years after his death and burial in a numbered mass grave in Potters Field. She gave this talk in 1984, and refers to the novel she was writing at the time, The Memoirs of the Late Mr. Ashley (1986), which, like Shoot Out With Father (2002) is narrated by a gay man. She discusses both Prince Ishmael (1963) and Dark Dominion (1947) and refers to a book review she wrote for the Times in the early 40s. I am trying find which of the dozens of Times reviews she wrote she is talking about. When I do I’ll post it.
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MEMOIR OF A NAZI

Marianne Hauser was born in 1910. Her early life was shaped by the two world wars: her earliest memories are of Strasbourg in the teens, her sister’s death, her father’s working in a German munitions plant, marching off to the bomb shelters singing the song, Allons Enfants, smuggling eggs. In her few autobiographical writings World War 1 is both tragic and a caper, an event that divided the loyalties of her relatives. Her family was German. But they lived as Alsatians, the only identity she embraced her entire life. In the story Allons Enfants her uncle is a member of an underground organization in favor of Alsatian independence. The duality, or tripling of identity informed her work. World War 2 on the other hand, and the Nazis, has no aspect of the caper about it. Hauser loathed the Nazis and was deeply disturbed by her father’s decision to move to Germany in the twenties, and remain until his death in the forties. Her mother died in the forties too. She did not see them after the late thirties, perhaps 1937 or ’38. At some point in those years she skied with her father in Switzerland, and saw her mother in Paris. Her husband, Fred Kirchberger, escaped the Nazis and joined her in America. His brother, Paul, had married Eva Hauser, Marianne’s younger sister. They are listed as holocaust survivors. I have been able to learn very little about them, even from Michael Kirchberger. The fact is Marianne and Fred were not interested in discussing the past. Yet in the 30’s, in New York, Hauser lectured on the threat of Nazism, addressing church and civic groups. Her beat as a reviewer was the war. The vast majority of her NYT book reviews are of books dealing with Fascist Europe. The same is true for her Saturday Review pieces. I haven’t seen the New York Herald Tribune reviews, but I suspect the same is true there. These were written in the early forties.
Her fiction is full of references to Nazis, fascism, the police state, and often, a character who meets a German and calls him a Nazi. Here is a piece Michael Kirchberger sent me. It is about a review she read in the New York times of Leni Riefenstahl’s autobiography. I don’t know if it was ever published.
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AN EVOLVING BIBLIOGRAPHY

This is an evolving bibliography. It lists Marianne Hauser’s major publications. It is not complete for a number of reasons. One, I’m not a scholar. Just formatting this takes me a long time. Second, the online bibliographies are contradictory and incomplete. For instance, one lists the publisher of Heaven 2 as ‘Hallwalls‘. Hallwall’s published this story, yes. Hallwalls (click to read its history) is a non-profit arts organization in Buffalo, New York. It has galleries and performance spaces and has been a vital venue since the seventies for experimental, innovative and challenging art. Hauser read there in the 80s in a fiction series curated by Ed Cardoni, who is now Hallwall’s executive director.
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I will have much to say about Hallwalls and Ed Cardoni. Cardoni edited a serial with stories and pieces featured in the series. The name of that publication is Blatant Artifice, and it is in Blatant Artifice 2 that Hauser’s strory appears, along with work by Ray Federman and Mark Leyner. I recommend it to anyone who wants to read great short fiction.

 

 

 

I plan on publishing bibliographies of Hauser’s reviews here as well (she wrote 80+ reviews for the NYT alone between 1940 and 1943), and will update this bibliography as I get more information. If readers see errors, or know of publications not listed, please send me an email: jon at lastbender dot com.

Marianne Hauser Evolving Bibliography

 

Novels and Collections

Monique. Zurich: Ringier, 1934.

Indisches Gaukelspiel (Shadow Play in India). Leipzig: Zinnen, 1937.

Dark Dominion. New York: Random House, 1947.

The Choir Invisible. New York: McDowel, Obolensky, 1958. Published in England under original title, The Living Shall Praise Thee. London: Gollancz, 1957.

Prince Ishmael. New York: Stein and Day, 1963. Reprinted, Los Angeles: Sun and Moon Classics Series, 1991.

A Lesson in Music. Austin: University of Texas Press, 1964.

The Talking Room. New York: Fiction Collective, 1976. Excerpt in: Sukenick, Ronald and White, Curtis. 1999. In the Slipstream: An FC2 Reader. Normal/Tallahassee: FC2.

The Memoirs of the Late Mr. Ashley: An American Comedy. Los Angeles: Sun and Moon Press, 1986. Trans. In German, Suhrfkamp, 1992.

Me and My Mom. Los Angeles: Sun and Moon Classics, 1993. Excerpt: Scandal at the Bide-A-Wee Nursing Home for Mature Seniors. Fiction International 22, 1992.

Shootout with Father. Normal [Ill.]: FC2, 2002.

The Collected Short Fiction of Marianne Hauser. Normal [Ill.]: FC2, 2004.

 

Uncollected Stories

The Colonel’s Daughter. The Tiger’s Eye 3,March 1948, 21-34.

The Rubber Doll. Mademoiselle, 1951.

The Sun and the Colonel’s Button. Botteghe Oscure 12, Fall 1953, 255-72.

note: first chapter of Prince Ishmael written in the 3rd person.

 

Nonfiction, partial list of American publications

 

The Indomitable Spirit of Alsace. Travel 70, 1938, 28 –.

Swan Song of the Middle Ages. Travel 72, 1939.

Pantomime in Blue and Silver. Travel 72, 1938, 18 – .

Bamboo, Symbol of Old China. Travel. 73, July 1939, 30.

Successful Small Home That Suits the Environment. Arts and Decoration 49, February 1939, 18 – .

Home Industries of the Swiss Peasants. Arts and Decoration 50, April 1939, 22–40.

Marrakesh: Descent into Spring. Harper’s Bazaar, May 1966, 188-203.

Story Collections

A Lesson In Music. Austin: University of Texas Press, 1964.

Contents:

Introduction

Allons Enfant. Harper’s Bazaar, August, 1962.

The Cruel Brother. Mademoiselle, October, 1945.

Peter Plazke, Poet. Perspective, 1955.

One Last Drop for Poor Abu

A Lesson in Music. Harper’s Bazaar, May, 1946.

The Mouse. The Tiger’s Eye 8, June, 1949, 88-98. Reprinted in Foley, Martha. 1950. The Best American Short Stories 1950. Boston, Mass.: Houghton Mifflin.

The Other Side of the River. Mademoiselle, (April 1948). Reprinted in Brickell, Herschel. 1948. Prize stories of 1948: the O. Henry Awards. Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday.

The Dreaming of Poseidon. Harper’s Bazaar, September 1961.

The Island. The Texas Quarterly, Winter, 1959.

The Sheep. Harper’s Bazaar, May, 1945.

The Abduction. Harper’s Bazaar, 1964. Reprinted in: Morris, Alice S. 1965. The Uncommon Reader. New York, N. Y.: Avon Books. And Gold, Don S. 1967. Philadelphia: Chilton Book Company.

The Collected Short Fiction of Marianne Hauser. Normal [Ill.]: FC2, 2004.

Note: introduction written by Marianne Hauser

Contents

A Lesson in Music*

ASHES: a fragment from a novel in the making. Statements 2: NEW FICTION, edited by Jonathan Baumbach and Peter Spielberg, with an introduction by Robert Coover, Fiction Collective, New York, 1977. (Ashes is an early version of chapter one of The Memoirs of the Late Mr. Ashley: An American Comedy).

The Other Side of the River*

Mimoun of the Mellah Harper’s Bazaar, (December 1966): 114-82.

Heartlands Beat. Fiction International 18, 1 (Spring 1988): 11-22.

Peter Plazke, Poet*

The Sheep*

The long & short: a fable

The Cruel Brother*

The Seersucker Suit. Carleton Miscellany 9 (Fall 1968): 2-14. Reprinted in American Made: New Fiction from the Fiction Collective, ed. Mark Leyner, Curtis White, and Thomas Glynn, 93-106. New York: Fiction Collective, 1986.

Weeds. Denver Quarterly

Heaven 2. Blatant Artifice, Hallwall’s Fiction Anthology. vol 2. ed. Edmund Cardoni. Buffalo: Hallwalls, 1986.

The Dreaming Poseidon*

Conflict of Legalities. High Plains Literary Review.

The Island*

No Name on the Bullet. Fiction International 19, 2.

The Missing Page. Witness 1, 2/3.

It Isn’t So Bad It Couldn’t Be Worse. City 9 International Anthology.

Allons Enfants*

My Uncle’s Magic Machine Fiction International 34, (Fall 2001).

The Abduction*

*= published in A Lesson in Music

Hauser and Sandoz

This is a profile of Marianne Hauser, written for the Mari Sandoz Heritage Newsletter, Spring 2001, by Richard F. Voorhees. The occasion was her 90th birthday and the place was New York, where she lived. This profile is fascinating for the light it sheds on one of Hauser’s most important, and best, books, The Memoirs of the Late Mr. Ashley. (The Publisher’s Weekly review of the book is beyond idiotic! Read mine instead). According to Voorhees the model for Mr. Ashley was a man named Wesley Towner, one of Hauser’s close friends and drinking buddies, and the author of The Elegant Auctioneers. In the novel, Ashley is supposed to be writing a non-fiction opus about southern mansions, his lack of production notoriously disguised by the tape recording of a clacking typewriter. Towner, unlike Ashley, mostly completed his book before dying. Towner’s family owned the building Mari Sandoz lived in. In this profile Voorhees also discusses how Sandoz and Hauser became friends, and the encouragement Sandoz gave her when writing The Choir Invisible. Richard Voorhees is a fascinating man in his own right. It’s not a surprise that he and Hauser would hit it off.
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ALICE S. MORRIS: A FIERCE CONTEMPT FOR BIGOTRY

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Alice S. Morris was one of Marianne Hauser’s closest personal friends, and she was also a vitally important professional friend. Morris was the literary editor at  Harper’s Bazaar from 1951-1968 and she published many of Hauser’s stories, as well as excerpts from her novel Prince Ishmael. In 1965 she edited The Uncommon Reader, a collection of Harper’s Bazaar stories which includes Hauser’s The Abduction, an hallucinatory journey into exile taken by a Hungarian composer. It is based largely on the life of Erno Dohnanyi, whom she knew in the 1950’s, in Tallahassee,  where he was teaching and where Fred Kirchberger got his PhD. Morris died at age 90 in 1993. Alice S. Morris was one of several adventurous mid-century editors at fashion magazines. These women’s magazines became a market for serious literary fiction. She was preceded by George Davis, who was at Harper’s Bazaar from 1936-1941, who then moved to Mademoiselle until 1949. Betsy Blackwell was the editor and chief of Mademoiselle from 1937-1971. Mademoiselle was a Conde Nast publication, which for a time was a partner of McBride’s, where Coby Gilman worked editing Travel. Carson McCullers, Truman Capote, Jean Stafford, Eudora Welty, Flannery O’Connor, James Baldwin, Jane Bowles, Paul Bowles, and Tennessee Williams are some of the many authors published by these fashion magazines early in their careers. When Hauser published Dark Dominion her friend Marguerite Young reviewed it in Vogue alongside McCullers’ A Member of the Wedding and Capote’s short stories.
Morris was married to Harvey Breit, a novelist and editor who reviewed books for the Times in the 40’s (his Times obit gives different dates than the Wikipedia article for his NYT tenure). When she died, Hauser wrote this about her old friend:

Alice S. Morris Obit
COPYRIGHT ESTATE OF MARIANNE HAUSER COLLECTION OF MICHAEL KIRCHBERGER