Ayuko Fujii (1903–1926)
Ayuko Fujii was born in Berlin; her father was an attaché at the Japanese embassy. She attended a francophone gymnasium, and by age fifteen, she was capable in five languages. Her passion was for English. “It is a funny, cozy language, full of misshapen words,” she wrote in her diary. “Any other language would be ashamed to own a word such as ‘dollop’ or ‘shrub.’ But not English—that is its genius.”
Fujii read widely in English literature and admired Laurence Sterne, Jane Austen, and E.M. Forster. In 1919, at the age of sixteen, she translated Forster’s Where Angels Fear to Tread into Japanese. The next year, she began work on Austen’s Emma, but was interrupted: in June 1920, her father was recalled to Tokyo. (Her translations were published posthumously in 1929.)
On the journey back to Japan, Fujii contracted the flu and nearly died. Her recovery was slow, and when her father was assigned to the United States in 1921, she stayed behind with her grandparents in Kyoto. Bedridden and bored, she threw herself back into literature. Instead of returning to Emma, however, she now began to write her own fiction. The resulting novel, Grasmere (1925), describes a Japanese family’s holiday in the Lake District. In an attempt to capture the “fussiness” of English prose style, Fujii first wrote the novel in English, then translated it into Japanese. Though she claimed that Grasmere was “an attempt to do in Japanese what Austen has done in English,” scholars have compared the novel to Jun’ichirō Tanizaki and Virginia Woolf for its psychological intensity and intimate depiction of family life.
After the publication of Grasmere, Fujii was a literary celebrity. One critic dubbed her “the heir to Sōseki.” Finally healthy, she started on her second novel, a rewriting of Tanizaki’s Naomi from Naomi’s perspective, but completed only three chapters. On September 2, 1926, she was killed in a car accident.
Eduardo Funes (1879–1960)
In 1899, Funes visited the Prado and saw Diego Velázquez’s Las Meninas for the first time. “At that moment,” he later wrote, “I understood that all subsequent art could only be a footnote to this painting.” Born in Argentina, Eduardo Miguel Funes Llorente was the only child of Spanish expatriates; his father was a prominent surgeon in Buenos Aires. Funes sailed for Spain in 1899 and studied at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts. His early art consisted of undistinguished paintings in the academic style; he failed to place his work in any major exhibition. He had a nervous breakdown in 1910 and spent the next two years at a sanitarium in Pau. In 1913, his father and mother retired to Geneva, and Funes went to live with his parents.
After his breakdown, he wanted to return to painting, and even coaxed his parents into sitting for him for hours at a time (to his mother’s annoyance), but found himself unable to complete their portrait. Then, on January 9, 1914, he discovered the idea that would fuel his art for the next twenty-five years: Funes painted his father and mother in the poses and dress of King Philip and Queen Mariana from Las Meninas. “Velázquez perfected the art of composition in painting,” he wrote. “I could not improve on it, so I took it.” A burst of creativity followed—sixteen paintings in thirty-five days, all variations on Las Meninas. In the largest of them, Las Meninas No. 8, Funes gave all eleven of the painting’s figures his own face.
Funes tried to exhibit the paintings, but gallery owners refused; eventually, his parents paid for them to be shown in Zürich. The exhibition attracted a favorable review from a young Tristan Tzara; Funes wrote to thank him, and the two struck up a correspondence that lasted for the rest of Funes’s life. With Tzara’s encouragement, Funes continued his work, making variations on Las Meninas in numerous styles, colors, and media. Over the next ten years, he completed over five hundred oil paintings, watercolors, drawings, and collages. In 1920, Tzara invited him to Paris for an exhibition, establishing Funes as a favorite of the Dadaists and Surrealists.
Funes’s output slowed after the deaths of his parents in the late 1920s, and by 1940, he had stopped painting altogether. “I have not exhausted Las Meninas,” he wrote in a letter to Tzara. “It has exhausted me.” In 1957, Pablo Picasso created a series of fifty-eight paintings based on Las Meninas; several critics accused him of copying Funes, but Funes defended Picasso: “We both stole from the best.” He died in Geneva of stomach cancer in 1960.
Patrick Kelleher (1920–1959)
“The Irish,” Freud is supposed to have said, “are the only race impervious to psychoanalysis.” Patrick Kelleher tried to prove him wrong. Born in County Cork, Kelleher studied for the priesthood at Maynooth; he was ordained in 1947 and served as a curate at the Cathedral of St. Mary and Anne in Cork. He displayed some talent as a student and hoped to earn an advanced degree in theology at one of the pontifical universities in Rome.
In 1949, at the urging of his bishop, Kelleher read a polemic against psychoanalysis. The book argued for the incompatibility of the church and psychoanalysis, but it had the opposite effect on Kelleher: “The selections from Freud,” he wrote, “seemed to me more sound than the author’s refutation of them.” Over the next few years, Kelleher devoted himself to reading Freud and began, in secret, to see an analyst. He came to believe—contrary to the church’s position—that psychoanalysis and Catholicism were not only compatible, but complementary. Using the pseudonym “Fr. Witwork,” he published a series of articles arguing for an alliance between the clergy and analysts; the Archbishop of Armagh condemned the articles, but his attempts to discover their author’s identity were unsuccessful.
In 1952, Kelleher moved to Rome to study for his doctorate at the Pontifical Gregorian University; he continued his psychoanalytic study as well, taking courses under the name “Sigmund Joyce” at the Institute of Psychology at the University of Rome. It was here, in September 1953, that he saw Jacques Lacan deliver his famous “Rome Discourse”—“my road to Damacus,” Kelleher called it. The next year, he declared himself the author of the Witwork articles, left the priesthood, and moved to Paris to train with Lacan at the Sainte-Anne Hospital.
In Paris, Kelleher wrote The Book of Signs, a complex text that combined theology, linguistics, and Lacanian psychoanalysis. In December 1957, he presented the manuscript to Lacan, who responded with characteristic cruelty, telling Kelleher that he should have stayed a priest. Dejected, Kelleher returned to Ireland. His attempts to be reinstated by the church failed, and he died in 1959, at his mother’s home, of an overdose of sleeping pills. The Book of Signs was rediscovered in the 1980s and developed a small following among Lacanians.
Jenny Schulze (1889–1965)
Jenny Schulze was the daughter of Felix Bloch, a wealthy Berlin banker. She spent her childhood in a mansion in the Westend district, the setting of much of her later work. In 1912, she married Robert Schulze, a lawyer, and published her first novel, Klara. A collection of short stories, Foxes and Hens, followed in 1915. Robert Schulze resented his wife’s success and their lack of children, and the couple divorced in 1921. She spent the rest of the decade in Switzerland, marrying diplomat Jean Berger in 1925 and divorcing him in 1930.
Schulze’s early fiction was in the style of Theodor Fontane, but in the 1920s, she turned away from realism. Influenced by Henri Bergson’s writings on time, her 1929 novel Elastic charted a soul’s reincarnations from the fall of the Roman empire to the turn of the twentieth century. A Brass Knob (1935) marked her return to realism; it was the first of her seven Westend novels, nostalgic comedies-of-manners set in an idealized pre-war Berlin.
Schulze left Europe in 1937 and spent the war years in Los Angeles among a group of German expatriates that included Thomas Mann, Theodor Adorno, and Fritz Lang. She quarreled with Adorno, who accused her Westend novels of “latent fascism.” From 1938 to 1941, she worked as a screenwriter for MGM, but none of her scripts were produced. When the war ended, most of her circle returned to Europe, but Schulze stayed in California. “Germany,” she said, “exists now only in my memory.” She published a long memoir, Gate of Ivory, in 1952.
From 1939 until her death, Schulze practiced Vendata meditation. Along with Aldous Huxley and Christopher Isherwood, she belonged to the Vendata Society of Southern California and contributed articles to its journal, Vendata and the West. In 1961, she republished Elastic with a long preface that interpreted the novel in terms of Vendata philosophy. She moved to Santa Fe, New Mexico, in 1963 and died there two years later of colon cancer.
Ryan Napier’s stories have appeared in Entropy, Queen Mob’s Tea House, minor literature[s], and others, and his chapbook Four Stories about the Human Face will be published by Bull City Press in October 2018. He lives in Massachusetts. Twitter: @ryanlnapier
About the banner image: Image from page 156 of “Cement houses and how to build them.” (1908)