Last notes

There survives a heart-rending document from this final stage of Gustav Mahler (1860-1911)‘s illness.

It was probably the last thing he ever wrote and appears on the back of a note in Alma Mahler (1879-1964)´s hand, itself a sheet of paper folded into four.

At the top of the page Alma has written ´Pulse sehr gut‘ (Pulse very good), to which Mahler has added a reply, in a shaking but still characteristic hand:

´Mir war nur kalt ´(I was just cold). ´Reeig!´ (Tremendously!). ´Always mehr!´ (More and more!).

Beneath this letter dialogue is a drawing in a somewhat uncertain way: from a small circle (a head?) a line emerges and passes through another circle identified as ‘Herz´(heart).

The line then spirals upon itself. Adjacent, the words ‘die lieben Thierchen‘ (the little beasts) which was Mahler’s nickname for the microbes that were slowly killing him are written under ´Herz‘.

From the center of the spiral the line seems to emerge once again in a series of directional arrows that follow the line all the way to the bottom of the page, where a small recipient is represented by a simple rectangle.

Written diagonally beside it, in Alma Mahler (1879-1964)‘s firm hand, is the question: ‘Was bedeutet diese Sphynxschnecke?´ (What is the meaning of this sphinx snail?).

Gustav Mahler (1860-1911)‘s reply, beneath it, is: ‘The Nachttopf´ (The chamber pot).

Did he know? Or not-? Alma wondered.

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