Arthur Schnitzler

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Arthur Schnitzler
Arthur Schnitzler 1912 (cropped).jpg
Arthur Schnitzler, ca. 1912
Born(1862-05-15)15 May 1862 [1]
Vienna, Austria
Died21 October 1931(1931-10-21) (aged 69)
Vienna, Austria
OccupationNovelist, short-story writer and playwright
GenreShort stories, novels, plays
Literary movement Decadent movement, Modernism
Notable works Dream Story , Reigen , Fräulein Else

Arthur Schnitzler (15 May 1862 – 21 October 1931) was an Austrian author and dramatist.

Austrian literature is the literature written in Austria, which is mostly, but not exclusively, written in the German language. Some scholars speak about Austrian literature in a strict sense from the year 1806 on when Francis II disbanded the Holy Roman Empire and established the Austrian Empire. A more liberal definition incorporates all the literary works written on the territory of today's and historical Austria, especially when it comes to authors who wrote in German. Thus, the seven volume history of Austrian literature by the editors Herbert Zeman and Fritz Peter Knapp is titled History of the Literature in Austria. The Austrian literature must be considered in close connection with German literature in general, and the borderline between proper German literature and the Austrian one is porous, due to rich and complex cultural exchanges.



Schnitzler's birthplace Praterstrasse 16 Schnitzler-birthplace Praterstrasse1.JPG
Schnitzler's birthplace Praterstrasse 16

Arthur Schnitzler was born at Praterstrasse 16, Leopoldstadt, Vienna, capital of the Austrian Empire (as of 1867, part of the dual monarchy of Austria-Hungary). He was the son of a prominent Hungarian laryngologist, Johann Schnitzler (1835–1893), and Luise Markbreiter (1838–1911), a daughter of the Viennese doctor Philipp Markbreiter. His parents were both from Jewish families. [2] In 1879 Schnitzler began studying medicine at the University of Vienna and in 1885 he received his doctorate of medicine. He began work at Vienna's General Hospital (German: Allgemeines Krankenhaus der Stadt Wien), but ultimately abandoned the practice of medicine in favour of writing.

Leopoldstadt 2nd District of Vienna in Austria

Leopoldstadt is the 2nd municipal District of Vienna. There are 103,233 inhabitants over 19.27 km2 (7 sq mi). It is situated in the heart of the city and, together with Brigittenau, forms a large island surrounded by the Danube Canal and, to the north, the Danube. It is named after Leopold I, Holy Roman Emperor. Due to its relatively high percentage of Jewish inhabitants, Leopoldstadt gained the nickname Mazzesinsel. This context was a significant aspect for the district twinning with the New York City borough Brooklyn in 2007.

Austrian Empire monarchy in Central Europe between 1804 and 1867

The Austrian Empire was a Central European multinational great power from 1804 to 1867, created by proclamation out of the realms of the Habsburgs. During its existence, it was the third most populous empire after the Russian Empire and the United Kingdom in Europe. Along with Prussia, it was one of the two major powers of the German Confederation. Geographically, it was the third largest empire in Europe after the Russian Empire and the First French Empire. Proclaimed in response to the First French Empire, it partially overlapped with the Holy Roman Empire until the latter's dissolution in 1806.

Austria-Hungary Constitutional monarchic union from 1867 to October 1918

Austria-Hungary, often referred to as the Austro-Hungarian Empire or the Dual Monarchy, was a constitutional monarchy in Central and Eastern Europe from 1867 to 1918. It was formed by giving a new constitution to the Austrian Empire, which devolved powers on Austria (Cisleithania) and Hungary (Transleithania) and placed them on an equal footing. It broke apart into several states at the end of World War I.

On 26 August 1903, Schnitzler married Olga Gussmann (1882–1970), a 21-year-old aspiring actress and singer who came from a Jewish middle-class family. They had a son, Heinrich (1902–1982), born on 9 August 1902. In 1909 they had a daughter, Lili, who committed suicide in 1928. The Schnitzlers separated in 1921. Schnitzler died on 21 October 1931, in Vienna, of a brain hemorrhage. In 1938, following the Anschluss, his son Heinrich went to the United States and did not return to Austria until 1959; he is the father of the Austrian musician and conservationist Michael Schnitzler, born in 1944 in Berkeley, California, who moved to Vienna with his parents in 1959. [3]

<i>Anschluss</i> annexation of Austria into Nazi Germany on 12 March 1938

Anschluss refers to the annexation of Austria into Nazi Germany on 12 March 1938. The word's German spelling, until the German orthography reform of 1996, was Anschluß and it was also known as the Anschluss Österreichs.

Michael Schnitzler is an Austrian American ecologist and musician.

Literary works

Schnitzler's works were often controversial, both for their frank description of sexuality (in a letter to Schnitzler Sigmund Freud confessed "I have gained the impression that you have learned through intuition – although actually as a result of sensitive introspection – everything that I have had to unearth by laborious work on other persons") [4] and for their strong stand against anti-Semitism, represented by works such as his play Professor Bernhardi and his novel Der Weg ins Freie . However, although Schnitzler was himself Jewish, Professor Bernhardi and Fräulein Else are among the few clearly identified Jewish protagonists in his work.

Sigmund Freud Austrian neurologist known as the founding father of psychoanalysis

Sigmund Freud was an Austrian neurologist and the founder of psychoanalysis, a clinical method for treating psychopathology through dialogue between a patient and a psychoanalyst.

Professor Bernhardi (1912) is one of the best known plays written by the Viennese dramatist, short story writer and novelist Arthur Schnitzler. It was first performed in Berlin at the Kleines Theater in 1912, but banned in Austria until the collapse of the Austro-Hungarian Empire as a result of World War I. Though billed as a 'comedy in five acts', the play explores antisemitism and Austrian-Jewish identity.

Der Weg ins Freie was published by Arthur Schnitzler in 1908 and is one of only two novels by this Viennese author (1862-1931) better known for his short stories and plays This novel was first translated into English in 1913 by Horace Barnett Samuel (1883-1950)

Schnitzler was branded as a pornographer after the release of his play Reigen , in which ten pairs of characters are shown before and after the sexual act, leading and ending with a prostitute. The furore after this play was couched in the strongest anti-semitic terms. [5] Reigen was made into a French language film in 1950 by the German-born director Max Ophüls as La Ronde . The film achieved considerable success in the English-speaking world, with the result that Schnitzler's play is better known there under its French title. Richard Oswald's film The Merry-Go-Round (1920), Roger Vadim's Circle of Love (1964) and Otto Schenk's Der Reigen (1973) are also based on the play. More recently, in Fernando Meirelles' film 360 , Schnitzler's play was provided with a new version, as has been the case with many other TV and film productions.

La Ronde is a controversial play with provocative sexual themes written by Arthur Schnitzler in 1897.

Max Ophüls German-born film director

Maximillian Oppenheimer, known as Max Ophüls, was a German-born film director who worked in Germany (1931–1933), France, and the United States (1947–1950). He made nearly 30 films, the latter ones being especially notable: La Ronde (1950), Le Plaisir (1952), The Earrings of Madame de... (1953) and Lola Montès (1955).

<i>La Ronde</i> (1950 film) 1950 film by Max Ophüls

La Ronde is a 1950 French film directed by Max Ophüls and based on Arthur Schnitzler's 1897 play La Ronde.

In the novella Fräulein Else (1924) Schnitzler may be rebutting a contentious critique of the Jewish character by Otto Weininger (1903) by positioning the sexuality of the young female Jewish protagonist. [6] The story, a first-person stream of consciousness narrative by a young aristocratic woman, reveals a moral dilemma that ends in tragedy.

<i>Fräulein Else</i> (novella) novel by Arthur Schnitzler

Fräulein Else is a 1924 novella by the Austrian writer Arthur Schnitzler. It has been adapted into films on a number of occasions including the German silent Fräulein Else (1929), the Argentine The Naked Angel (1946) and Fräulein Else (2014).

Otto Weininger austrian philosopher and writer

Otto Weininger was an Austrian philosopher who lived in the Austro-Hungarian Empire. In 1903, he published the book Geschlecht und Charakter, which gained popularity after his suicide at the age of 23. Parts of his work were adapted for use by the Nazi regime. Weininger was a large influence on Ludwig Wittgenstein, August Strindberg, and relatively on James Joyce.

In response to an interviewer who asked Schnitzler what he thought about the critical view that his works all seemed to treat the same subjects, he replied, "I write of love and death. What other subjects are there?" [7] Despite his seriousness of purpose, Schnitzler frequently approaches the bedroom farce in his plays (and had an affair with one of his actresses, Adele Sandrock). Professor Bernhardi, a play about a Jewish doctor who turns away a Catholic priest in order to spare a patient the realization that she is on the point of death, is his only major dramatic work without a sexual theme.

A member of the avant-garde group Young Vienna (Jung-Wien), Schnitzler toyed with formal as well as social conventions. With his 1900 novella Leutnant Gustl, he was the first to write German fiction in stream-of-consciousness narration. The story is an unflattering portrait of its protagonist and of the army's obsessive code of formal honour. It caused Schnitzler to be stripped of his commission as a reserve officer in the medical corps – something that should be seen against the rising tide of anti-semitism of the time.

He specialized in shorter works like novellas and one-act plays. And in his short stories like "The Green Tie" ("Die grüne Krawatte") he showed himself to be one of the early masters of microfiction. However he also wrote two full-length novels: Der Weg ins Freie about a talented but not very motivated young composer, a brilliant description of a segment of pre-World War I Viennese society; and the artistically less satisfactory Therese .

In addition to his plays and fiction, Schnitzler meticulously kept a diary from the age of 17 until two days before his death. The manuscript, which runs to almost 8,000 pages, is most notable for Schnitzler's casual descriptions of sexual conquests – he was often in relationships with several women at once, and for a period of some years he kept a record of every orgasm. Collections of Schnitzler's letters have also been published.

Schnitzler's works were called "Jewish filth" by Adolf Hitler and were banned by the Nazis in Austria and Germany. In 1933, when Joseph Goebbels organized book burnings in Berlin and other cities, Schnitzler's works were thrown into flames along with those of other Jews, including Einstein, Marx, Kafka, Freud and Stefan Zweig. [8]

His novella Fräulein Else has been adapted a number of times including the German silent film Fräulein Else (1929), starring Elisabeth Bergner, and a 1946 Argentine film, The Naked Angel , starring Olga Zubarry.

Selected works



Memorial in Vienna Wien - Schnitzler-Denkmal im Turkenschanzpark.JPG
Memorial in Vienna

Short stories and novellas


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<i>Young Medardus</i> 1923 film by Michael Curtiz

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<i>Fräulein Else</i> (1929 film) 1929 film by Paul Czinner

Fräulein Else is a 1929 German silent drama film directed by Paul Czinner and starring Elisabeth Bergner, Albert Bassermann and Albert Steinrück. It was based on the 1924 novella of the same name by Arthur Schnitzler. Bergner had previously played her role on stage to great acclaim. However, it was felt that the film was hindered by being silent given the strength of the story's dialogue.

Reigen is a German-language opera in ten scenes by Philippe Boesmans to a libretto by Luc Bondy after Arthur Schnitzler's play La Ronde (1897). The opera was premiered at La Monnaie, Brussels in 1993.

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  1. "This day, May 15, in Jewish history". Cleveland Jewish News.
  2. "The Road to The Open (JC Verite European Classics Book 1) – Kindle edition by Arthur Schnitzler, J. Chakravarti, Horace Samuel. Literature & Fiction Kindle eBooks @".
  3. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 20 February 2012. Retrieved 2012-01-25.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  4. Schnitzler's hidden manuscripts explored Archived 15 March 2010 at the Wayback Machine at
  5. Arthur Schnitzler scandal at
  6. Barker, Andrew (2001). "Race, Sex and Character in Schnitzler's Fräulein Else." German Life and Letters. v. 54(1):1–9.
  7. Nicholas., Parsons, (2009). Vienna : a cultural history. Oxford: Oxford University Press. ISBN   9780195376067. OCLC   221155367.
  8. Liukkonen, Petri. "Arthur Schnitzler". Books and Writers ( Finland: Kuusankoski Public Library. Archived from the original on 6 February 2012.
  9. Dalliance was staged at the National Theatre by Peter Wood. It opened in the Lyttelton Theatre 27 May 1986.
  10. Sweet Nothings was directed by Luc Bondy at the Young Vic and opened on 25 February 2010.
  11. The Blue Room was staged at the Donmar Warehouse in London by Sam Mendes, opening on 22 September 1998.
  12. Undiscovered Country was staged at the National Theatre by Peter Wood. It opened in the Olivier Theatre 20 June 1979.

Further reading