glossen 24

Apple Blossoms In Contaminated Paradise:
Trauma and Creation in Gabrielle Alioth's Die Erfindung von Liebe und Tod

Silke R. Falkner and Cornelia Burian

In 1984, after working in econometrics and operational research, the Swiss Gabrielle Alioth moved from Basel to Ireland and turned to writing fiction besides travel books and journalistic texts.[1] The Hamburger Literaturhaus awarded to her the prize "Der erste Roman" (best first novel) for Der Narr (1990), an already fine example of Alioth's complex and unsettling narrative technique that she developed further in her subsequent novels Wie ein kostbarer Stein (1994) und Die Arche der Frauen (1996).[2] Alioth has been travelling extensively on reading tours throughout Canada, the United States, and Europe. Currently, she is Writer-in-Residence at the University College Dublin, in Ireland.

As has been shown specifically with respect to Die Stumme Reiterin (1998)[3], Alioth employs an ever more intricate "Technik des Verbergens und Verschleierns,"[4] the strategy of which engenders a sense of displacement for readers who struggle with infinite meta-textual challenges and inner-textual united knots, as well as the erasure of limitations of time and space. A metaleptic confusion of narrative levels can best be demonstrated via the author's latest novel Die Erfindung von Liebe und Tod.[5] There is, however, a leitmotiv in Alioth's text yet to be investigated: The blossoming apple grove. Closely following up on this image, and drawing on recent trauma theory, we will argue that the apple blossoms indicate both paradise and incest trauma, and we will show how the imagined paradise offers respite to those traumatized, although in a transitory fashion only. Particularly useful to our discussion of incest and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder are Judith Herman's and Cathy Caruth's theories.[6]

Herman's insightful discussion of the devastating consequences of childhood trauma for personality development perfectly highlights Alioth's complex and sometimes puzzling character descriptions. Caruth as well offers a helpful paradigm for discussing Die Erfindung. Her theories about the parallel between psychic fragmentation and literary devices such as structural breakage and repetition can illuminate Alioth's work.

In Die Erfindung, a nameless European author, the first-person narrator, travels to eighteen different North American cities on a reading tour, during which tour she also visits attractions, such as an exhibit on Ancient Egypt in Los Angeles. Via flashbacks, she tells of her personal history, that is, her childhood, youth, and married life. Of her relations, her mother appears least relevant, mentioned only once, in order to comment her absence (81), her two sisters more so, and the most important roles play her father and her husband, Philipp. After readings in Madison, Wisconsin, and a number of Canadian cities, the author-narrator spends a few days in the vicinity of San Francisco where the unnamed owner of a beautiful walled-in garden grants her respite from her reading schedule because she temporarily lost her voice (77). She then tours locations in California (79, 84, 92, 96, 99), Arizona (109) and Texas (110) before travelling to Newfoundland, where she remains at an archaeological excavation site of a seventeenth-century colony, in Ferryland.

A set of photocopies informs the narrator about the colony being unearthed. The individual who provides the narrator with those copies had encircled the name of its founder, George Calvert, later Lord Baltimore, on the faxed photocopies; according to him, he intended to direct the narrator's attention to the colony called Avalon like "[d]ie Insel der Kelten, der Gralssucher, der Bekehrer, die im Nebel verschwand" (73). In the historical colony, "[seien] weder Herkunft noch Religion [...] von Bedeutung," (109) thus it ought to be an ideal place of sanctuary for those who are dispossessed, a paradise. The narrator assembles her fictional characters, several of them based on historical figures, to settle the colony, and their lives and interactions develop into an important plot line of the novel. Most significant are a physician, Duncan, and his lover, Megan.
Based on her personal past, Megan must leave her Irish homeland and accompany the Protestant pastor Nicolas to Baltimore's colony. And although the latter had intended a settlement free from persecution, Megan is still not accepted by the community and continues to feel alienated.

Nicolas presents himself as her husband. He provides her with food and shelter, and even teaches her to read, yet, their relationship's basis is clearly pragmatic. The emotionally shallow relationship between Megan and Nicolas corresponds to the marriage between the narrator and her husband Philipp, whom she appears to have married because she was incapable of refusing him, because she felt driven to copy her older sisters' examples, and wanted to escape her childhood home (17-18). Megan and the narrator also share the same facial characteristics, and at times, the writer physically experiences what the pioneer copes with. As Megan performs typical settler's labour in Avalon, the narrator undergoes Megan's actions with her own body: "[Megan] wendet sich ab, und ich spüre das Biegen im Rücken, als sie den Eimer in die Regentonne taucht und wieder hinauszieht" (138). Alioth's narrator also lives through Megan's dreams and sexual longings (180), suffers her despair and pain (182, 184) and, significantly, she shares her history of incest.

Baltimore had set up a non-denominational (albeit Christian) colony to offer shelter to both Protestants and Catholics, and all those who "wollten vergessen, was sie aus der Alten [Welt] vertrieben hatte, Armut, Verzweiflung, Verfolgung" (108). The settlers, including Duncan and Megan, had no option but to choose migration. Yet, upon arrival, they grasp that there is still no equality: "Wer sich drüben von ihnen unterschieden hatte, würde sich auch hier unterscheiden. [...] Sie wussten, wer anders war" (108). Megan recognizes that, although the colony does not become a home, there is also no 'home' to return to. Parallel to the narrator, she simply loses all sense of home (132, 7). However, she experiences genuine happiness in her romantic affair with Duncan.

The cruel climate, a meagre agricultural yield, and assaults by French pirates finally provoke Baltimore to forsake the colony (190-191). Some settlers remain, including Megan, but Duncan and his family leave. When Megan loses her lover, the narrator, too, claims: "Ich werde an keinem anderen Ort mehr sein" (184), indicating her displacement in both a geographic and historic sense. The destruction of the narrator's identity and her sense of dislodgement seem related to incest trauma in her childhood and youth. It is this trauma that destroys the basis of an entire framework of familiar structures, producing a feeling of homelessness. Yet this trauma is also the source of creative strength. This connection of creation and incest is set up in reverse parallel to Ovid's Metamorphoses,[7] a vibrant source of literary reference for this novel.

An "alte[r] Mann," a Hollywood screen writer whom she visits in California, reminds Alioth's first-person narrator of Pygmalion's statue arising to life, and is thus the first to articulate the name of the classical artist eminent for his relationship with his creation (95-96). Instances of foreshadowing also bring to mind Metamorphoses. In one of the narrator's flashbacks of her life with Philipp, she mentions "das rote Buch der Verwandlungen" without a title or author (140) and in another flashback, she states title and author of "den Geschichten all jener, die ihre Gestalt wandelten" (18). When the screen writer (who can be identified as Curt Siodmak [8) mentions "Pygmalion," the narrator remembers "den roten Band mit Ovids Metamorphosen in Philipps Gestell" (95).

Because real women appalled him, Ovid's Pygmalion crafted in ivory a statue of a flawless woman, his ideal. When he consequently fell in love with his creation, he begged the goddess Venus to bestow him with a wife just like her, and she indulged him by fulfilling his secret wish: She transformed the dead ivory into living flesh and blood.[9] Alioth's narrator recounts: "Wenn die Sonne auf das Elfenbein schien, mussten die Lippen von Pygmalions Statue so warm sein wie echte. [...] Dreimal ließ Venus die Flamme auf ihrem Altar aufflackern und Pygmalion wusste, dass sie seinen Wunsch erfüllt hatte" (113). This achievement raises the narrator's hope that an 'invented' character can come to life, and in this context she speculates that she will experience the equivalent with her own creation, Duncan. She visualizes his transformation into live flesh, feeling "wie sich die Narbe auf Duncans Brust unter meinen Fingern wölbt" (96).

The union between Ovid's Pygmalion and his metamorphosed statue appeared blissful and the couple even begot a son (Bk. X: 243-297). In due course, however, there was a price to pay for disrespecting the boundary between artist and creation-Pygmalion's grandson, Cinyras, entered into an incestuous relationship with his own daughter, Myrrha, who was subsequently transformed into a myrrh tree, yet gave birth to the child conceived in incest, Adonis.[10] Alioth's narrator elaborates on the tale:

"Eine Tochter von Pygmalions Nachkommen verliebte sich in ihren Vater. ... ihr Töchter, ihr Väter, glaubt nicht die Tat, und wofern ihr sie glaubt, so glaubt auch des Frevels Bestrafung. Sie täuschte ihn und wurde schwanger. Venus verwandelte das Mädchen, das seinen Schöpfer begehrte, in einen Myrrhenbaum, nicht tot, nicht lebendig, als tränendes Harz im Gedächtnis der Menschen verewigt." (189, Alioth's italics)

In Ovid, then, the topics of creation and incest are unmistakably interlinked. Remarkably, they are also entwined in Alioth's novel: The experience of trauma proves to be the source of the creative energy the narrator requires as an author of fiction. We will first delineate the veiled incest trauma in Die Erfindung, and then discuss the link to the act of creation.

Readers witness one marker of incest trauma when the narrator recounts rejoicing after her father's death upon realization that time allows individuals to sort out and put into order their experiences: "Die Zeit [...] sei eine der größten Erfindungen des Menschen, denn sie erlaube ihm, seine Erfahrungen zu ordnen" (25). An "unerhörte Freude" seized her when the shadow of her hand darkened her father's dead face. She herself would be able to organize her recollections: "Die Zeit würde weiterlaufen, ich würde weiterleben, und er wäre nur noch eine Gestalt in meiner Erinnerung" (25). This need to map her memory implies a traumatic experience. Placing a formerly disconnected event into the network of memory, thereby integrating it, helps to overcome traumatic shock. The indicator of trauma is the inability to place such an event because it is incomprehensible.[11] As Cathy Caruth explains, the "enigmatic core" of trauma is "the delay or incompletion in knowing,"[12] -- leaving the sufferer haunted by flashbacks, nightmares and involuntary memories of an occurrence s/he has not fully experienced and of which s/he therefore possesses no conscious knowledge. There are a number of textual pointers, both in form and in content, that the trauma in the narrator's past is incest-related, including dreams and flashbacks, repetitions, and the metaphor of loss of speech. The narrator's "unerhörte Freude" upon recognizing that she will ultimately overcome her trauma is not immediately followed by a solution of the problem, but rather it is a glimpse of hope (25).

In Die Erfindung, the narrator's flashbacks are interwoven with episodes taking place during her travels through North America, and they often, but not always, appear to be triggered by them. For instance, in Los Angeles, she visits the exhibition "Pharaohs of the Sun," for which the names Akhenaten and Nefertiti advertise "als wären sie die Hauptdarsteller eines neuen Films" (84-88). The history of Akhenaten and Nefertiti indeed does allude to incest and displacement. Akhenaten reigned a short seventeen years from 1353-1336 BC, during the so-called Amarna period. Abandoning Thebes and Memphis, he founded the city that later became known as Amarna, and he revolutionized Egyptian culture by enforcing monotheism. After his death, though, the new city was abandoned, and the former polytheistic religion was reinstated under the rule of Tutankhamen.

While she views the Ancient Egyptian objects, the narrator notes how for "Generationen suchten die Pharaonen nach Vollkommenheit, indem sie Gleiches mit Gleichem paarten, Verwandte, Geschwister" (87). In the museum, she quickly passes by one image of Akhenaten with his daughter "als hätte ich etwas Anstößiges gesehen."-- He kisses his daughter while holding her "wie eine Schale [...] an den Mund" (85). In the same paragraph, she tells of a flashback wherein she observes herself "auf dem Schoß meines Vaters" (85).

The narrator repeatedly hints at occurrences involving her and her father that substantively impacted her life without specifying what "it" was: "Es muss wie ein Zufall begonnen haben, mit einer Geste, einer Berührung" (94, italics by the authors of this essay). Readers are left to label it incest; although the instances, strewn into the text every now and then, seem harmless enough: "Die Haut war vertraut, der Geruch, das krause Haar auf der Brust. Als die Zufälle sich häuften, begriff ich, dass sie mein Leben bestimmten" (94). Repeatedly, the "coincidences" are linked to the leitmotiv of apple blossoms or apple trees, significant also in the context of Avalon: "Die Bäume blühten im Frühling [...] -- ich sah mich auf dem Schoß meines Vaters" (85). While visiting Newfoundland, the narrator relates a dream:

"Ich gehe mit meinem Vater einem Flüsschen entlang in einem schmalen, von Bäumen beschatteten Tal. Ich kenne den Weg, er führt zum Zoologischen Garten. [...] Da bemerke ich zum ersten Mal, dass der Weg neben dem Zoo weiterführt, in eine Schlucht. Ich weiß, dass ich die Schlucht betreten muss, ich weiß, dass mir nichts geschehen wird, und dass es zu meinem Besten ist, aber ich will es nicht. Mein Vater ist verschwunden und ich erwache angsterstarrt." (52-53, italics by the authors of this essay)

The girl's conviction "nothing will happen to me and that it is for my own good" both confirms the traumatic nature of the "coincidences" and reveals how the trauma victim deems herself the source of the problem. As Herman explains, trauma victims in general -- and abused children in particular -- often blame themselves for what happened to them. In her chapter on child abuse, she elucidates that

[t]he child entrapped in this kind of horror develops the belief that she is somehow responsible for the crimes of her abusers. Simply by virtue of her existence on earth, she has driven the most powerful people in her world to do terrible things. Surely, then, her nature must be thoroughly evil [...]. By developing a contaminated, stigmatized identity, the child victim [...] preserves her primary attachments to her parents.[13]

The narrator who must "enter the ravine" against her own will in her dream (perhaps reflecting an actual incident from her past) also remembers how, shortly after first communion, she travelled to the city of Paris with her father. They went alone, "ohne meine Schwestern, die Mutter," and father and daughter shared one and the same bed (81). One night she felt: "An meinem Körper haftete der Druck einer Berührung" (18). Back at home, she was content when "das Erlebte zu einer Geschichte wurde" (81). This experience initiates an avoidance of Paris extending into adulthood (81). Signalling sexual misconduct and punishment for sin, the father comes down with a skin ailment following the tour to Paris: "Ein paar Tage danach überzog sich seine Haut mit einem flechtigen Ausschlag und es brauchte Monate, bis er wieder verschwand. Ich wusste, dass ich schuld war daran" (85). Again, the narrator's behaviour corresponds to Herman's findings regarding the adoption of responsibility by the victim. In this case, the girl feels guilty for provoking her father's herpes-like rash, a popular marker of and penalty for sexual sin. Whereas Satan afflicted Job with painful boils from the soles of his feet to the top of his head so as to test his integrity,[14] disease has long been a commonplace indicator for the crossing of sexual boundaries.[15] In medieval times, leprosy and other diseases visible on the skin were, according to Jeffrey Richards, "an outward sign of a soul corroded by sin and in particular sexual sin."[16] As Sander Gilman illustrated, by the second half of the eighteenth century, "the idea of masturbation as a cause for a wide range of diseases, from dyspepsia to acne, became commonplace in the medical as well as the lay community."[17] A literary example, in Goethe's Faust II Mephistopheles experiences "a mass of boils / from head to toe," following his confounding infatuation with the male angels in the Internment scene.[18] This "dermatological affliction" marks, according to Silke R. Falkner, Mephisto's erotic attraction, undoubtedly a "sin" from the devil's point of view, and warns "Mephisto to resume the place God has assigned to him."[19]

It is true that Claudia Stein recently showed that in early modernity, sexual intercourse was not considered the primary cause for transmission of "French disease."[20] Yet, given the cultural association of skin disorders and sexual misdemeanours, we can safely assume that in Die Erfindung, the rash of the narrator's father after their return from Paris corroborates his incestuous relationship with her; the fact that she blames herself for the outbreak substantiates the traumatic nature of the Parisian episode.

The first-person narrator of this novel, furthermore, is thoroughly unreliable; she habitually mars the boundaries between narrative levels, and she obscures geographic information and progression of time. The uncertainty and disorientation readers face reflects the confused psychological state of incest trauma victims. As Judith Herman explains, victims of child abuse cannot develop "a secure sense of autonomy." For the violated child, "fragmentation becomes the central principle of personality organization," and as she grows up, she is left feeling insecure and disoriented, because her memory and cognition are seriously impaired.[21]

Die Erfindung features a narrator who conceals the incest-truth by using hints, allusions, and traces that require closest attention and unveiling by readers. While the indicators for her sexual abuse experiences therefore remain somewhat vague, the narrator's fictional character Megan has a more evident history of incest. In her case, the sexual violation led to a pregnancy that, in turn, caused her state of dispossession and loss of homeland. Just as for the narrator, Megan's flashbacks and memories are frequently linked to the image of blossoming apple trees:

Sie spürte den spitzen, kleinen Schmerz noch während Tagen zwischen den Beinen. [...] Sie hatte [Nicholas] die Wahrheit gesagt, das, was sie davon wusste [...]. Sie konnte die Apfelbäume noch vor sich sehen, den Abhang, aber das andere war vage, die Hände, das krause Haar auf der Brust des Vaters. Danach war diese Stille in ihr. Nie zuvor hatte sie so tief geschlafen wie in jenem Sommer und ihr Körper wurde schwer. Das Kind wurde zu früh geboren. Es war tot. (142)

While Megan shares her story with Nicholas, she does not mention it to her lover Duncan; she did not tell him "dass sie den Hang mit den Apfelbäumen kannte" (146). The apple trees haunt her; she thinks of them while she begins to work the soil in the beds to plant an herb garden (158). Megan is aware of the apple blossoms' double meaning for her, one as a metaphor for the loss of innocence, the other a symbol of the paradisiacal Avalon:

" Avalon [...], die Wiege des Christentums." So hatten sie Avalon genannt, nachdem sie es verloren hatten, Megan erinnerte sich. Die Pilger hatten ein Kloster gebaut. Die Apfelbäume am Hang dahinter blühten nur noch im Frühling. (159)

The narrator, too, "dachte an die Apfelbäume, die dort das ganze Jahr über blühen" when she contemplated Avalon (23), and she "recognized" the apple blossoms she encountered in Ireland, where she moved to after leaving her native Switzerland (34). She informs the reader: "Das walisische Wort für Apfel ist Afal; Avalon wird Apfelgarten bedeuten" (34).

Die Erfindung is not the first of Alioth's novels to contain the apple blossom motif. We find them, too, in Wie ein kostbarer Stein,[22] where they are linked to the sexual experience of a novice in a monastery that leads to her pregnancy and subsequent death. In this novel, indeed, the sexual incident is so unspeakable that it is never referred to directly but rather passes through cloaked images. In the first line of Wie ein kostbarer Stein for instance, yellow apples have fallen onto the grass beneath trees. Still in the opening pages, we see a nun standing "neben den Apfelbäumen" when she grabs one of the twigs and "tastete in den verblühten Knospen nach der winzigen Frucht."[23] This image foreshadows the novel's plot, as the wilted blossom with its fruit resemble the novice Margareta who becomes pregnant and dies. Flowers are, moreover, linked to pain and creativity. When Margareta learns embroidery; she is surprised how difficult it is. As she stitches yellow flower petals on a rug, she injures herself, and her blood drips on the fabric, and her mother cuts the entire flower from the fabric and pulls out all the threads. These blood-stained flowers of yarn reinforce the connection between creativity and Margareta's later pregnancy, that leaves her segregated from her family as well as the other women in the monastery, bleeding to death in an attic.[24]

In Alioth's fourth novel, Die stumme Reiterin, the central character Mathis possibly begets a child with the young woman Relindis whom he later loses contact with. Contrary to Wie ein kostbarer Stein, and certainly contrary to Die Erfindung, though, this sexual contact does not seem to be of a traumatic nature; yet, the text forges a powerful linkage between apple blossoms and sexual contact.[25] This association is taken up by the narrator in Die Erfindung, who reads from a scene of Die stumme Reiterin taking place "unter den Apfelbäumen" (7) when introducing her novel to a North-American audience. And when visiting an artist in Toronto, she notes a stained glass window with "drei Frauen in fließenden Gewändern unter Apfelbäumen," an image she connects with yet another text, a children's book: "Die Frauen unter den Apfelbäumen erinnerten mich an ein Märchenbuch, das meinen Schwestern gehört hatte" (15). The book she refers to includes the fate of the little mermaid who lost her tongue, a severed tongue and loss of speech being the classical key metaphor for incest or rape. In Die Erfindung, a foreshadowing of the loss of voice occurs in a flashback featuring the narrator's childhood: "Im Märchenbuch meiner Schwestern war ein Bild der Hexe, die der kleinen Seejungfrau die Zunge abschnitt" (77). The narrator then herself faces such a loss of tongue. During her reading tour, the she finds herself afflicted by "Heiserkeit" during her flight from Vancouver (78), and finally she loses her voice entirely. This compels her to take a break from her intense reading schedule in a Californian "ummauerten Garten" whose owner "hat nicht gefragt, wie ich meine Stimme verloren habe, als ich vor ein paar Tagen bei ihr ankam" (77). In Los Angeles, the narrator's "Stimme ist immer noch zu hoch, und an der Wurzel meiner Zunge ist eine taube Stelle" (87), and she considers requesting medication to treat her "Heiserkeit" (92). The loss of speech, again, is known from Ovid's Metamorphoses, where the Thracian king Tereus rapes his wife's sister Philomela, and subsequently attempts to cover up his crime by severing Philomela's tongue with his sword.[26] Not being able to talk and held captive by her brother-in-law, Philomela weaves the abuse into a cloth she sends to her sister Procne.[27] After liberating Philomela, Procne punishes Tereus by killing and serving their son Ithys for the Bacchus feast.[28] Subsequently, Procne transforms into a nightingale, Philomela into a swallow, and Tereus into a hoopoe.[29] We note, again, the association of sexual sin with metamorphoses,[30] a link Alioth establishes in Die Erfindung by compelling her narrator to form Duncan based on her father's image. "Ich hatte mir einen Forscher vorgestellt, mit dem dünnen Stift, dem ernsten Gesicht meines Vaters, einen Entdecker, über Berichte oder Karten gebeugt" (80). Several flashbacks indicate she creates Duncan because of her father. For instance, the narrator relates, she "dachte damals schon an Duncan und wie er sich über glänzende Instrumente beugte" while helping to clear out her parents' attic after her father's death and finding "Werkzeugkisten, aber sie waren leer" (26). If the emptiness of her father's toolboxes indicates the suppressed incest memory, and blank in the fabric of childhood memory, the creation of Duncan helps fashion a new framework of memory to overcome the traumatic shock.

Unlike Ovid's characters Myrrha and Philomela, who endure shame and become speechless, Alioth's narrator draws on her trauma for a creative opportunity based on language. We know the paradisiacal apple grove holds the dreadful secret capable of silencing all speech; yet, the narrator creates in fiction the colony Avalon, "Apfelgarten," to shelter both Megan and herself. After all; as she explains: "Ein Ort, der verschwunden ist, kann überall sein" (34)-that is, in the imagination.

Apple blossoms in this novel thus denote both incest and paradise. For Megan and the narrator, the contamination of their place of original paradise leads to dispossession and homelessness that requires shelter in the paradise Avalon. During her Nova Scotia visit, the narrator finds out how the Arcadians who settled along the Canadian East coast in the seventeenth century planted apple trees (34). The apple blossoms mentioned in Wolfville indicate a place in time, contrary to the often experienced loss of time structure in this novel: About the Wolfville landscape, a local contact tells the narrator: "In einem Monat [...] ist sie weiß von Apfelblüten und der Wind trägt den Duft aufs Meer hinaus" (37). In this Nova Scotia town, indeed, the apple trees come into flower during the last two weeks of May, celebrated with the Annapolis Valley Apple Blossom Festival that includes a musical programme, a parade, and the coronation of an apple blossom queen. Taking this information -- not imparted in the novel -- into account, the narrator must be visiting Wolfville during the second half of April; readers can, if they follow up on the information, date the narrator's travels and gain more temporal certainty than the narrator herself displays.

The narrator claims she cannot get used to remaining "an einem Ort [...], seit ich Irland verlassen habe" (15) but, de facto, not since she left her childhood home "am Bahndamm" (18). This childhood paradise appears polluted by the incest experience. Life with Philipp was a way to leave home, not a relationship based on an emotional bond, and the narrator remains continuously affected by her history. She ponders whether she will ever escape her father's hold on her, "das Gesicht meines Vaters steht so deutlich vor mir, als wäre er eben hier gewesen. Kann der erste Blick alle andern bestimmen? Bleiben wir bis zum Schluss, was dieser erste Blick in uns sah?" (109). She thus questions the prospect that she, the incest victim, can ever fully recover from the trauma she experienced, a concept Herman refutes. While the latter agrees that the consequences of childhood abuse can be extremely severe, in her experience as a clinician, she also finds that victims can recover once they learn how to counter the "core experiences of psychological trauma," which she defines as "disempowerment and disconnection from others."[31] Once victims as well as their families recognize the reality of the trauma and acknowledge what happened, patients can begin to "recreate the psychological faculties that were damaged or deformed by the traumatic experience."[32]

The narrator in Alioth's novel is not able to escape the results of the childhood "instances," yet, she undergoes a shift in her emotional response. In her dreams of what we now recognize as incest, her fear turns into anger: "Mein Traum fällt mir wieder ein. Vielleicht hatte ich nicht Angst gespürt sondern Zorn, dass ich die Schlucht betreten sollte, dass dies der Ort war, an den ich gehörte" (54). The possibility of experiencing anger is linked to inventing Duncan and beginning "ihn zu beschreiben" (54). Instead of remaining solely the creation of her incestuous father ("Kann der erste Blick alle andern bestimmen? Bleiben wir bis zum Schluss, was dieser erste Blick in uns sah?" 109), the narrator begins herself to envision, describe, and create someone else (Duncan). The creature of her father becomes a creator herself. Thus, the text displays an unmistakable correlation between the incest and fictional creation. On the brink of her father's death, a "Sehnsucht" arose in the narrator, a longing "in der alles verschwamm und aus der alles entstand, was später geschah" (88). The narrator does not right away link incest with creative force, and does not interpret her anger. Yet-when "Duncan erschien, begriff ich, was mein Vater aus mir gemacht hatte" (88).

Seemingly almighty within the realm of language in her innovative power, she overcomes the loss of voice and creates a world where love can exist: her fictional Avalon where the affection between Megan and Duncan thrives. Thus, while in Ovid's Metamorphoses the incest appears to be a result of Pygmalion's deed of engaging in a romantic relationship with his creation, in Die Erfindung, we witness a reversal. Instead of losing her voice permanently subsequent to the incest trauma, the narrator (after her father's death) becomes angry and invents, by using language, Duncan and his world; she constructs an opportunity to engage in a romantic relationship with her creation. Out of her sense of dispossession arises in the end, the creative opportunity. Parallel to the creative energy of the narrator (who invents fiction), Megan uses her opportunity to create a garden in Avalon where she grows herbal plants; plants that heal those not well.

Yet, imagination and invention apparently become impotent in the instance of motherhood, demonstrating how the imaginary space provides only a temporary home to the traumatized, dispossessed individual, but not a long-term future. The colony Avalon will be abandoned, Duncan will leave Megan, and neither the narrator nor Megan will have children (188). The discussion of motherhood takes place both in Megan's and in the narrator's level of reality. In Megan's case, a girl plunges into the well located on her Avalon property, and she dies. The mother's identity is ambiguous; the girl is seven or eight years old. This accident reminds Megan of her own stillborn child who would be this age by now, had it lived (186). When thinking of the possibility of having children, the narrator, too, imagines a girl growing up to the age of seven or eight (90), the same age as that of the girl who dies in the colony: "Ich stellte mir vor, das Kind sitze in einer Wiese, spiele am Bach, es wurde größer, verschwand. Es war nie älter als acht Jahre" (85). This image may indicate the age of the narrator at the time when an incest trauma disrupted her sense of self and led to the destruction of her girlhood identity.

Josef Breuer and Sigmund Freud already discovered more than a hundred years ago how traumatic events in childhood could have long-lasting negative effects on the adult personality, which effects they outlined in their work Studies in Hysteria.[33] Herman points out that "repeated trauma in childhood forms and deforms the personality,"[34] and precludes the sufferer from developing mature styles of coping with life. Victims thus become arrested in their development at the time of the original trauma. Alioth metaphorizes this by having her narrator comment: "Meine Stimme ist immer noch zu hoch" (87). Typical for survivors of childhood abuse, too, is the reluctance or sheer unwillingness to have children. Reflecting this refusal, the narrator at last decides, jointly with her husband, against a child: "Wir wussten beide, dass es keine Möglichkeit gewesen war" (85). In the end, she cannot even bear to watch children any longer: "Nach einigen Jahren hörte ich auf, die Kinder zu betrachten, die mir auf der Straße begegneten" (86). But the discussion of motherhood and the failure to generate offspring in both Megan's and the narrator's case not only signal their status as incest survivors, they also illustrate how the invented setting for the love between Duncan and narrator can only grant a transitory shelter for the traumatized individual, but not a genuine future. The detail that the colony's geographical location is named "Ferryland" bears out its dream-like setting, given this site's homonym "fairy land."

During her tour, the narrator also gets involved with the aftermath of a crime, namely, the incest affecting both Megan and the narrator is not the only unresolved criminal incident in this or other Alioth novels: Already Die stumme Reiterin and Wie ein kostbarer Stein included crime elements. But while the disappearance or theft and the (im)possible recovery of a perhaps unique gem -- conceivably the philosophers' stone -- drives much of Die stumme Reiterin, and the death of the nun Margareta is central in Wie ein kostbarer Stein, Die Erfindung has an unknown woman murdered in her hotel bed, and the identity of both victim and perpetrator are never resolved. We consider the fact that the narrator in this novel may be either the murderer or the victim of the crime, a parallel to out-of-body experiences trauma victims undergo. Those coping with trauma frequently fear they might be responsible for the crime committed against them in some way (as we already discussed in relation to the narrator's childhood trauma), a fear that blurs the lines between victim and perpetrator. In Die Erfindung, the narrator witnesses a homicide: while staying in a bed-and-breakfast at the onset of her reading tour, a woman is murdered in the room next to her. As the novel unfolds, readers learn that the unidentified woman resembled the narrator, and discover the narrator knows more about the crime than she is willing to tell the police. She is secretive and seems to have something to hide. Readers ponder whether she herself may have murdered the mysterious stranger, or whether the murder indicates the narrator's own demise. The ambiguity of the situation, the fact that readers cannot arrive at a conclusive answer to this question, draws attention to the destruction of the narrator's autonomous identity, furthermore underscored by the detail that she remains nameless throughout the entire novel.
In Die Erfindung, we discern a recognition of homelessness-this text expresses, very hidden by way of references to classical trauma motives (such as the severed tongue), and the blossoming apple grove as a place of contamination -- the homelessness resulting from trauma, and the wounded narrator invents a place where she can be home and whole, yet, the text is aware that such a place only exists in the imagination and is not permanent, for even invention has its limits-no future --, as the paradise is contaminated. Homelessness, surely, is both a geographical as well as temporal condition. The narrator clearly has trouble with time and timing; demonstrated by her husband Philipp who "hatte nie verstanden, warum ich immer so lange vor dem Abflug auf dem Flughafen sein musste" (11). Moreover, as she becomes increasingly lost in her own fictional creation of Duncan and Megan, the boundaries between past and present, fiction and reality blur. The narrator's confusion of past and present thus serves as another indicator of trauma, often defined according to its structure. Trauma victims, as Herman explains, are literally "possessed" by the occurrence that haunts them in nightmares and flashbacks, thereby disrupting their experience of time.[35] The narrator's difficulty with time, with reading maps and recognizing boundaries, and her inability to orient herself in time and space powerfully symbolizes the profound disorientation victims of childhood abuse face throughout their lives.

We have shown the apple blossoms as leitmotif for both the traumatic incest experience and the attempt to create a shelter for those dispossessed of a sense of home by just that very incest experience. We have also illustrated how, in this text, trauma is a powerful initiator of creation, for the traumatized narrator draws her very conceptional force from the incestuous events of her childhood. The blossoming apple trees have thus proved to be just that: Both an indicator of trauma and of paradise, of the end of an autonomous identity, and of the productive vigour of a creator. While, due to her damaged sense of self, the narrator has no personal future, she can overcome her loss of voice and speak fictional creation. In this sense, Alioth's complex narrative illuminates both the mute despair following trauma as well as the courageous struggle to regain a voice.

1 Alioth also authored two children's novels which will not be discussed in this article.
2 On Der Narr, see Anne Fuchs, "Die zerschlagene Laute - Narrentum ohne Komik: Zu Gabrielle Alioth's Roman Der Narr," Literaturkritik und erzählerische Praxis: Deutschsprachige Erzähler der Gegenwart, ed. Herbert Herzmann (Tübingen: Stauffenburg, 1995), in particular 77.
3 Gabrielle Alioth, Die stumme Reiterin (Zürich: Nagel & Kimche, 1998).
4 Silke R. Falkner, "Sinnkonstruktion durch Wahrheitsvielfalt: Gabrielle Alioths polyphoner Roman Die stumme Reiterin," Seminar 38.4 (2002): 364.
5 Alioth, Die Erfindung von Liebe und Tod (Munich: Nagel & Kimche, 2003). Henceforth, Die Erfindung von Liebe und Tod will be called Die Erfindung. References to this edition are cited parenthetically in the text. About metalepsis in this text, see Falkner, "A Narrative of Migration: Gabrielle Alioth's Die Erfindung von Liebe und Tod." In: International Fiction Review 34 (2007): Forthcoming.
6 Judith Lewis Herman, Trauma and Recovery: The Aftermath of Violence - from Domestic Abuse to Political Terror (New York: Basic, 1997). Cathy Caruth, Introduction, Trauma: Explorations in Memory (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins, 1995) 3-12.
7 Ovid, Metamorphoses, 2 vols. (Cambridge, Mass: Harvard University Press, 1976-77).
8 While Siodmak is not named in Alioth's novel, his famous Wolf Man is specified, his science fiction novel Donovan's Brain is alluded to, and the place of residence and the name of his wife (Henrietta) are de facto correct.
9 Ovid Bk. X: 243-297.
10 Ovid Bk. X: 431-552.
11 James Berger, "Trauma and Literary Theory," Contemporary Literature 38.3 (1997): 569-82 (here 577).
12 Caruth 5.
13 Herman 105.
14 Job 2,7.
15 See Sander Gilman, Sexuality: An Illustrated History (New York: Wiley, 1989) 77-88.
16 Jeffrey Richards, Sex, Dissidence and Damnation: Minority Groups in the Middle Ages (London: Routledge, 1991) 150.
17 Gilman 206.
18 Johann Wolfgang Goethe, Faust I & II, trans. Stuart Atkins (Boston: Insel, 1984) 11801-11810.
19 Falkner, " 'Love only succors/ Those who can love': Mephisto's Desiring Gaze in Goethe's Faust," Queering the Canon: Defying Sights in German Literature and Culture, eds. Christoph Lorey and John L. Plews, (Columbia: Camden, 1998) 142-158 (here 154).
20 Claudia Stein, Die Behandlung der Franzosenkrankheit in der Frühen Neuzeit am Beispiel Augsburgs (Stuttgart: Franz Steiner Verlag, 2003) 176-177.
21 Herman 107.
22 Alioth, Wie ein kostbarer Stein (Zürich: Nagel & Kimche, 1994).
23 Alioth, Stein 11.
24 Alioth, Stein 35.
25 While it remains uncertain whether Relindis and Mathis engage in a physical affair, there are many allusions to this, including those that suggest that Relindis gives birth to a daughter who possibly is Mathis's daughter as well. See Alioth, Die stumme Reiterin 87, 92, 106, 108-9, 112-4, 116-7, 122, 133, 136, 213-4, 243, 250.
26 Ovid Bk. VI: 486-570.
27 Ovid Bk. VI: 571-619.
28 Ovid Bk. VI: 619-652.
29 Ovid Bk. VI: 653-674.
30Another example of the interconnection of rape, transformation and loss of speech in Ovid is Castillo who loses her speech and is turned into a bear by Juno after having been raped (Bk II: 441-495).
31 Herman 133.
32 Herman 133.
33 Sigmund Freud and Josef Breuer, Studies in Hysteria.The Standard Edition of the Complete Psychological Works of Sigmund Freud, trans. James Strachey (London: Hogarth, 1956).
34 Herman 96.
35 Herman 97.