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Arthur Schnitzler and Twentieth-Century Criticism

Arthur Schnitzler and Twentieth-Century Criticism

Andrew C. Wisely
Copyright Date: 2004
Published by: Boydell and Brewer,
Pages: 211
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  • Book Info
    Arthur Schnitzler and Twentieth-Century Criticism
    Book Description:

    Schnitzler, one of the most prolific Austrian writers of the 20th century, ruthlessly dissected his society's erotic posturing and phobias about sex and death. His most penetrating analyses include Lieutenant Gustl, the first stream-of-consciousness novella in German; Reigen, a devastating cycle of one-acts mapping the social limits of a sexual daisy-chain; and Der Weg ins Freie, a novel that combines a love story with a discussion of the roadblocks facing Austria's Jews. Today, his popularity is reflected by new editions and translations and by adaptations for theater, television, and film by artists such as Tom Stoppard and Stanley Kubrick. This book examines Schnitzler reception up to 2000, beginning with the journalistic reception of the early plays. Before being suspended by a decade of Nazism, criticism in the 1920s and 30s emphasized Schnitzler's determinism and decadence. Not until the early 60s was humanist scholarship able to challenge this verdict by pointing out Schnitzler's ethical indictment of impressionism in the late novellas. During the same period, Schnitzler, whom Freud considered his literary "Doppelgänger," was often subjected to Freudian psychoanalytical criticism; but by the 80s, scholarship was citing his own thoroughgoing objections to such categories. Since the 70s, Schnitzler's remonstrance toward the Austrian establishment has been examined by social historians and feminist critics alike, and the recently completed ten-volume edition of Schnitzler's diary has met with vibrant interest. Andrew C. Wisely is associate professor of German at Baylor University.

    eISBN: 978-1-57113-613-8
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Preface
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-ix)
    A. C. W.
  5. Abbreviations
    (pp. x-x)
  6. Introduction
    (pp. 1-22)

    Among the sites of fin-de-siècle modernism in Vienna, there is not yet a museum featuring the life of the physician-turned-author Arthur Schnitzler (1862–1931), who lived his entire life there. Museums that offer alternatives to imperial grandeur are plentiful enough: two radically different buildings, the Upper Belvedere and the Secession, both display the work of Gustav Klimt (1862–1918), famous for his Byzantine friezes of Viennese art nouveau. Another monument to modernism is the Freud Museum at 19 Berggasse, where Sigmund Freud (1856–1939) lived and worked. Yet anyone who looks for the house of Schnitzler, whom Freud termed his...

  7. 1: Journalistic Criticism during Schnitzler’s Lifetime
    (pp. 23-47)

    At the time of Schnitzler’s first breakthroughs in the early 1890s with the one-act cycle Anatol and the play Liebelei, two major strands of criticism dominated the literary scene in Germany and Austria. According to Peter Uwe Hohendahl, these strands were the result of a split in critical self-understanding around the year 1870. The critic as raisonneur, an enlightened mediator between the work of art and its intended public, had previously been at home in both newspaper and cultural journal, but was now affected by the commercialization of the press and the rise of scientific discourse in the university. The...

  8. 2: The First Critical Monographs
    (pp. 48-70)

    On May 12, 1933, the newspaper Neuköllner Tageblatt reported that students had burned books the previous night, stoking a blaze as a Nazi band beat out march music. One student, for example, flinging books of Heinrich Mann, Ernst Glaeser and Erich Kästner into the flames, shouted his incantation against moral decadence: “Gegen Dekadenz und moralischen Verfall! Für Zucht und Sitte in Familie und Staat!”¹ This fiery ritual not only pronounced the literal loss of free speech, but also the style of criticism under National Socialism, which was in fact no criticism at all, but evidence of hegemonic power scattering the...

  9. 3: Schnitzler as Humanist Institution
    (pp. 71-92)

    From Blume’s 1936 dissertation to the aftermath of National Socialism, very little productivity was evident in Schnitzler scholarship, with no criticism of monograph size matching that of Körner’s investigation until Françoise Derré’s L’oeuvre d’Arthur Schnitzler: Imagerie viennoise et problèmes humains (1966). But the mid-sixties is too late to take up the discussion, because enduring criticism of general nature, though lesser scope, is apparent much earlier, for example in Oskar Seidlin’s 1953 edition of the correspondence of Schnitzler and Brahm.¹ For that reason, criticism discussed in this chapter spans the time from the early fifties to the early seventies, beginning with...

  10. 4: Emancipation and Sociohistorical Approaches
    (pp. 93-121)

    The last chapter described the investigations resulting from the momentum of the 1962 centennial of Schnitzler’s birth: the present chapter addresses the time frame of scholarly activity surrounding the fiftieth anniversary of his death, celebrated in 1981, and is underpinned by a particular theme and mode. The theme is emancipation, and while it is possible that any author’s works can be queried concerning the level of freedom they reveal concerning class, race, and gender, this is particularly true in Schnitzler’s case. To scholars of the late seventies and eighties, his works invited a mode of sociohistorical analysis that shifted the...

  11. 5: Schnitzler and Freud: Uncanny Similarities?
    (pp. 122-144)

    In his 1919 essay “Das Unheimliche,” Sigmund Freud described the uncanny as the sudden revelation of that which has long remained hidden.¹ “Uncanny” also describes the sensation when psychoanalysis has laid bare the determining forces that have besieged the patient. According to Michael Worbs, Freud knew what he was talking about. His long avoidance of meeting Schnitzler was an attempt to avoid the shock caused by the suddenly familiar, because he had been noticing in Schnitzler for some time those aspects in himself that had been left undeveloped, whether by choice or circumstance. Seeing his Doppelgänger Schnitzler would be an...

  12. 6: The Task of Memory: The Diary Project
    (pp. 145-165)

    In breadth and consistency, Schnitzler’s diary is among the most significant of German and European literature. In 2000, the Austrian Academy of Sciences finished its project of publishing the ten 400 to 500 page volumes of Schnitzler’s diary, having started in 1981 to bring order to his entries between 1879 and his death in 1931. Predictably, easier access to the diary confirmed the suspicion that Schnitzler brooded over concerns far more multifarious than love and death, something astute readers had known for decades. Beyond serving to support interpretations of texts or to prove Schnitzler was capable of diversity, the diary...

  13. Conclusion: Eyes Wide Shut and Beyond
    (pp. 166-174)

    On July 16, 1999, the evening of the debut of Stanley Kubrick’s film Eyes Wide Shut (based on Schnitzler’s Traumnovelle), a critic on the “Charlie Rose Show” complained that Tom Cruise had played the physician Bill Harford with a disappointing lack of initiative.¹ Such complaints echo the criticism against Georg von Wergenthin in Der Weg ins Freie by contemporaries of Schnitzler armed with theories of proper behavior for novel heroes. For anyone acquainted with Traumnovelle, however, the fact that Cruise/Harford is frequently dazzled by what happens to him is a sign he has faithfully rendered the role of a typical...

  14. Works Consulted
    (pp. 175-188)
  15. Index
    (pp. 189-201)
  16. Back Matter
    (pp. 202-202)