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Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Wild Heart Turning White: Georg Trakl and Cocaine

Georg Trakl in 1910 – Source.
He doesn’t know whether his behaviour was unusual, he didn’t drink but took large amounts of cocaine.
This remark is taken from the medical file of Georg Trakl and is part of a brief account of the poet’s movements and behaviour in the month or so preceding his committal for observation to a psychiatric hospital in Kraków in early October 1914. Just six weeks earlier, towards the end of August, the 27-year-old Trakl had undertaken the 1000-kilometre train journey from Innsbruck, at the western end of the Habsburg Empire, to the far eastern crownland of Galicia, where he was to be deployed as a military pharmacist. His frontline experience was brief but traumatic. During the Battle of Grodek-Rawa Ruska of September 8-11, he was assigned sole care of ninety badly wounded soldiers sheltering in a barn, a task for which he had neither the training nor the equipment. As he later recounted from his hospital bed in Kraków to his friend and publisher Ludwig von Ficker, when one of the wounded men had ended his own suffering by shooting himself in the head, Trakl had fled outside only to be confronted by the sight of local peasants hanging lifeless in the trees. One evening during the westward retreat of the defeated Austro-Hungarian forces, he announced his own intention to shoot himself, but was forcefully disarmed by his comrades. His committal followed on October 6, and he died in hospital on November 3. His medical file lists the cause of death, complete with exclamation mark, as “Suicid durch Cocainintoxication!”
- See more at: http://publicdomainreview.org/2014/10/29/wild-heart-turning-white-georg-trakl-and-cocaine/#sthash.xBcUIhca.dpuf

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