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Arthur Schnitzler (1862—1931)

Hugo von Hofmannsthal (1874—1929) Austrian poet and dramatist


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AT: The Affairs of Anatol A: Arthur Schnitzler Pf: (1) 1896, Leipzig; (2) 1898, Vienna; (3) 1898, Leipzig; (4) 1916, Vienna; (5) 1893, Bad Ischl; (6–7) Berlin, 1901 Pb: 1892 Tr: 1911 G: 7 linked one-act dramas; German prose S: Vienna, 1890s C: 4m, 7f(1) Questioning Fate or The Crucial Question (Die Frage an das Schicksal). Max envies Anatol's hypnotic power over women. So when Cora comes, Anatol hypnotizes her to discover whether she has been unfaithful to him. But he dare not question fate, preferring to live on with his illusions. (2) Christmas Shopping (Weihnachtseinkäufe). Out shopping for his mistress, Anatol meets Gabriele, a married woman whom he once tried to seduce. She helps him choose presents for his mistress and includes some flowers from herself with the message ‘from a woman who could have loved as well as you but did not have the courage’. (3) Episode. Anatol visits Max with a parcel of mementoes, one labelled ‘Episode’. This was a souvenir of his affair with Bianca, which lasted only two hours, but he boasts that she ‘lay at his feet, thinking of nothing but him’. Bianca comes and cannot even remember Anatol, who leaves defeated. (4) Memorial Stones or Milestones or Souvenirs (Denksteine). On the day of his wedding to Emilie, Anatol discovers two precious stones which she has kept hidden. The ruby is a souvenir of her loss of virginity at 16 to a man she cannot even remember, the black diamond she has kept because it is worth a fortune. Disgusted, Anatol throws them in the fire and calls her a ‘whore’. (5) Farewell Supper (Abschiedssouper). Anatol, dining with Max at the Hotel Sacher, nervously awaits the arrival of Annie, with whom he has resolved to end his affair. Annie infuriates him by announcing that she is finishing with Anatol, because she is going to marry a fellow dancer in her ballet troupe. Max comments that it proved after all quite easy to dump her. (6) Agony or Dissolution (Agonie). Anatol is having an affair with Elsa, a married woman. Neither is fulfilled by their relationship: he is often kept waiting to see her for a few hurried minutes, she cannot bring herself to leave her husband. Anatol tells Max that it is like a disease. (7) Anatol's Wedding (Anatols Hochzeitsmorgen). On the morning of his wedding Anatol is in bed with Ilona, a woman he had picked up at a Masquerade the night before. Even Max is shocked at his behaviour, and Anatol at first dare not reveal that he is off to his own wedding. When he finally admits it, Ilona angrily smashes his possessions, but Max reassures her that, once married, Anatol will keep her as his mistress.This was the cycle of plays that established both Schnitzler's reputation as a playwright and his notoriety as a dangerously immoral influence. However, while Anatol's attitude to sexual morality, much of it based on Schnitzler's own life, is distinctly casual, his behaviour is not glamorized. Reinforced by Max's cynical commentary, Anatol may be seen not so much as a predator but as a victim of his sexual appetite, and his many women, far from being victims of his philandering, usually manage to keep the upper hand. Harley Granville Barker's adaptation of 1911 helped Anatol to become one of the best known if not necessarily the best of Schnitzler's works for the stage.


Subjects: Literary Studies (Plays and Playwrights).

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