This biography describes her life in full detail, based on newly found facts and a review of existing facts. It debunks the myths which were created around her and her brother Georg. In the book I take you with me on my journey into the discovery of the real Grete Trakl, sometimes in a literal sense, as I visited many places related to her life and that of her family. The e-book therefore contains films and music to bring you close to Grete's world. The writing style is smooth and accessible and thus suitable for many audiences: not only for the general lover of non-fiction and for people interested in feminist/gender issues, psychology and cultural history in a very broad sense, but also for the more scholarly audiences who appreciate thorough research, especially for those who study the work and life of Georg Trakl.
Grete’s life story resembles an ‘Ikea novel’: “a do-it-yourself kit, consisting of a handful of personages, an immense secret of the past, contrary interests and loyalties, a romance here or rather remorse or grief over a broken relationship there” (Claire Polak, jury of the Dutch ‘Booker Prize’). But let’s be honest, most lives contain such ingredients. It is the aim of historical research to uncover the appropriate biographical ingredients and their interrelationships within the specific life history of an individual.
In Grete’s case, talent and tragedy went hand in hand. Grete was a musical prodigy and was on the verge of becoming a concert pianist, when family circumstances and the effects of her upbringing took their toll. Grete’s tragedy – and implicitly also that of her brother Georg – started at birth, having been born into a Salzburg family from lower middle and lower class background but who aspired to be perceived as thoroughly bourgeois. The Trakl family lived way above their standards; when the father died in 1910, he left a debt of what would now have been approximately1 million Euros. His death was the starting point of the family’s rapid downfall which was completed in 1917. Gretes death was both instrumental in and the end-effect of this process.
The dysfunctional elements within the Trakl family vary from secretly held bigamy committed by the mother, Maria Halik, to depression, drug dependency, co-dependent behavior, severe emotional deprivation and maltreatment in schools to – in the case of Georg – clear signs of personality traits belonging to the autistic spectrum. Because of her upbringing Grete most probably developed a borderline personality, which accounts for her so-called ‘hysterical’ behavior. Like many women at that time with ‘inappropriate behavior’, Grete was ‘safely tucked away’ in a mental institution and, even worse, was labeled as having committed suicide because of debt and alcoholism, whereas most probably she was shot to death.
The book also contains a surprise to the lovers and researchers of Georg’s poems. Grete Trakl possessed at least 15 of his poems, some in her own handwriting, of which 5 are completely unknown and which are now published for the first time. Several others are variations on or earlier versions of known poems, thus setting the dates of origin of these poems back in time. In relationship to these poems the origin of one of Georg's main themes, ‘Sebastian’, is traced back to his early youth and the presumed occult influences on his poetry form part of the discussion. The answer is negative: Georg was a pure Christian mystic.
All in all, this biography is an important addition to the biography on Georg Trakl by Hans Weichselbaum (1994; see picture), which was reissued this year to commemorate the centennial of Georg’s death in Krakau (Poland, 1914).
Marty Bax, Immer zu wenig Liebe. Grete Trakl. Ihr feinster Kuppler. Ihre Familie, Amsterdam 2014.
Text in German, e-book (PDF), 450 pages, with films, music and full genealogies and pedigree charts of the Trakl, Halik and Von Langen families.
Availability: through Bax Book Store only. Click here to go to the store.