Expains how the idea for Alraune came about.
The sun had already set and the candles were burning on the chandelier in the Festival room as Privy Councilor ten Brinken entered. He appeared festive enough in his dress suit. There was a large star on his white vest and a gold chain in the buttonhole from which twenty small medals dangled.
The Legal Councilor stood up, greeted him, and then he and the old gentleman went around the room with threadbare smiles, saying kind words to everyone. They stopped in front of the celebrating girls and the old gentleman took two gold rings out of a beautiful leather case and formally presented them. The one with a sapphire was for blond Frieda and the ruby was for dark Olga. Then he gave a very wise speech to both of them.
“Would you like to sit for a spell?” asked Herr Sebastian Gontram. “We’ve been sitting over there for four hours. Seventeen courses! Isn’t that something! Here is the menu, is there anything you would like?”
The Privy Councilor thanked him, but he had already eaten.
Then Frau Gontram came into the room in a blue, somewhat old-fashioned silk gown with a train. Her hair was done up high.
“I can’t eat anymore ice cream,” she cried. “Prince Puckler had Billa put all of it on the cinnamon noodles!”
The guests laughed. They never knew what to expect in the Gontram house.
Attorney Manasse cried, “Bring the dish in here! We haven’t seen Prince Puckler or fresh cinnamon noodles all day!”
Privy Councilor ten Brinken looked around for a chair. He was a small man, smooth shaven, with thick watery bags under his eyes. He was repulsive enough with swollen hanging lips, a huge meaty nose, and the lid of his left eye drooped heavy but the right stood wide open, squinting around in a predatory manner. Someone behind him said:
“Good Day Uncle Jakob.”
It was Frank Braun. The Privy Councilor turned around; it was very unusual to see his nephew here.
“You’re here?” he asked. “I can only imagine why.”
The student laughed, “Naturally! But you are so wise uncle. You look good by the way, and very official, like a university professor in proud dress uniform with all your medals. I’m here incognito–over there with the other students stuck at the west table.”
“That just proves your twisted thinking, where else would you be sitting?” his uncle said. “When you once–”
“Yes, yes,” Frank Braun interrupted him. “When I finally get as old as you, then I will be permitted–and so on–That’s what you would tell me, isn’t it? All heaven be praised that I’m not yet twenty Uncle Jakob. I like it this way much better.”
The Privy Councilor sat down. “Much better? I can believe that. In the fourth Semester and doing nothing but fighting, drinking, fencing, riding, loving and making poor grades! I wrote your mother about the grades the university gave you. Tell me youngster, just what are you doing in college anyway?”
The student filled two glasses, “Here Uncle Jakob, drink, then your suffering will be lighter! Well, I’ve been in several classes already, not just one, but an entire series of classes. Now I’ve left and I’m not going back.”
“Prosit!” The Privy Councilor said. “Have you finished?”
“Finished?” Frank Braun laughed. “I’m much more than finished. I’m overflowing! I’m done with college and I’m done with the Law. I’m going to travel. Why should I be in college? It’s possible that the other students can learn from you professors but their brains must then comply with your methods. My brain will not comply. I find every single one of you unbelievably foolish, boring and stupid.”
The professor took a long look at him.
“You are immensely arrogant, my dear boy,” he said quietly.
“Really?” The student leaned back, put one leg over the other. “Really? I scarcely believe that. But if so, it doesn’t really matter. I know what I’m doing. First, I’m saying this to annoy you a bit–You look so funny when you are annoyed, second, to hear back from you that I’m right.
For example, you, uncle, are certainly a shrewd old fox, very intelligent, clever and you know a multitude of things–But in college weren’t you just as insufferable as the rest of your respected colleagues? Didn’t you at one time or another say to yourself that you wanted to perhaps just have some fun?”
“Me? Most certainly not!” the professor said. “But that is something else. When you once–Well, ok, you know already–Now tell me boy, where in all the world will you go from here? Your mother will not like to hear that you are not coming home.”
“Very well,” cried Frank Braun. “I will answer you.”
“But first, why have you have rented this house to Gontram? He is certainly not a person that does things by the book. Still, it is always good when you can have someone like that from time to time. His tubercular wife naturally interests you as a medical doctor. All the doctors in the city are enraptured by this phenomenon without lungs. Then there’s the princess that you would gladly sell your castle in Mehlem to.
Finally, dear uncle, there are the two teenagers over there, beautiful, fresh vegetables aren’t they? I know how you like young girls–Oh, in all honor, naturally. You are always honorable Uncle Jakob!”
He stopped, lit a cigarette and blew out a puff of smoke. The Privy Councilor squinted at him poisonously with a predatory right eye.
“What did you want to tell me?” he asked lightly.
The student gave a short laugh, “Oh, nothing. Nothing at all!”
He stood up, went to the corner table, picked up a cigar box and opened it. They were the expensive cigars of the Privy Councilor.
“The smokes, dear uncle. Look, Romeo and Juliet, your brand. The Legal Councilor has certainly not spared any expense for you!”
He offered one to the Privy Councilor.
“Thank you,” growled the professor. “Thank you. Now once again, what is it that you want to tell me?”
Frank Braun moved his chair closer.
“I will tell you Uncle Jakob. But first I need to reproach you. I don’t like what you did, do you hear me? I know myself quite well, know that I’ve been wasting my life and that I continue–Leave that. You don’t care and I’m not asking you to pay any of my debts.
I request that you never again write such a letter to our house. You will write back to mother and tell her that I am very virtuous, very moral, work very hard and that I’m moving on and such stuff. Do you understand?”
“Yes, that I must lie,” said the Privy Councilor. “It should sound realistic and witty, but it will sound slimy as a snail, even to her.”
The student looked at him squarely, “Yes uncle, you should even lie. Not on my account, you know that, but for mother.”
He stopped for a moment gazing into his glass, “and since you will tell these lies for me, I will now tell you this.”
“I am curious,” said the Privy Councilor a little uncertainly.
“You know my life,” the student continued and his voice rang with bitter honesty. “You know that I, up until today, have been a stupid youth. You know because you are an old and clever man, highly educated, rich, known by all, decorated with titles and orders, because you are my uncle and my mother’s only brother. You think that gives you a right to educate me. Right or not, you will never do it. No one will ever do it, only life will educate me.”
The professor slapped his knee and laughed out loud. “Yes, life! Just wait youngster. It will educate you soon enough. It has enough twists and turns, beautiful rules and laws, solid boundaries and thorny barriers.”
Frank Braun replied, “They are nothing for me, much less for me than for you. Have you, Uncle Jakob, ever fought through the twists, cut through the wiry thorns and laughed at all the laws? I have.”
“Pay attention uncle,” he continued. “I know your life as well. The entire city knows it and the sparrows pipe their little jokes about you from the rooftops. But the people only talk to themselves in whispers, because they fear you, fear your cleverness and your money. They fear your power and your energy.
I know why little Anna Paulert died. I know why your handsome gardener had to leave so quickly for America. I know many more little stories about you. Oh, I don’t approve, certainly not. But I don’t think of you as evil. I even admire you a little perhaps because you, like a little king, can do so many things with impunity. The only thing I don’t understand is how you are successful with all the children. You are so ugly.”
The Privy Councilor played with his watch chain. Then he looked quietly at his nephew, almost flattered.
“You really don’t understand that?”
The student replied, “No, absolutely not at all. But I do understand how you have come to it! For a long time you’ve had everything that you wanted, everything that a person could have within the normal constraints of society. Now you want more. The brook is bored in its old bed, steps here and there over the narrow banks–It is in your blood.”
The professor raised his glass, reached it out to him.
“Give me another, my boy,” he said. His voice trembled a little and certainly rang out with solemnity. “You are right. It is in the blood, my blood and your blood.”
He drank and reached out to shake hands with his nephew.
“You will write mother like I want you to?” asked Frank Braun.
“Yes, I will,” replied the old man.
The student said, “Thank you Uncle Jakob.”
He took the outstretched hand and shook it.
“Now go, you old Don Juan, call the Communicants! They both look beautiful in their sacred gowns, don’t they?”
“Hmm,” said the uncle. “Don’t they look good to you?”
Frank Braun laughed. “Me? Oh, my God! No, Uncle Jakob, I am no rival, not today. Today I have a higher ambition–perhaps when I am as old as you are!–But I am not the guardian of their virtue. Those two celebrating roses will not improve until they have been plucked. Someone will, and soon–Why not you? Hey Olga, Frieda! Come on over here!”
But neither girl came over. They were hovering around Dr. Mohnen, filling his glass and listening to his suggestive stories. The princess came over; Frank Braun stood up and offered her his chair.
“Sit down, sit down!” she cried. “I have absolutely nothing to chat with you about!”
“Just a few minutes, your Highness. I will go get a cigarette,” the student said. “My uncle has been waiting all night for a chance to give you his compliments. He will be overjoyed.”
The Privy Councilor was not overjoyed about it. He would have much rather had the little princess sitting there, but now he entertained the mother–