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La Ronde


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AT: Hands Around; Couples; Circle of Love; Merry-Go-Round; The Round Dance; The Blue Room A: Arthur Schnitzler Pf: 1903, Munich (part); 1920, Berlin (full version) Pb: 1900 (private); 1903 (public) Tr: 1920 G: Com. in 10 linked scenes; German prose S: Vienna and environs, 1890s C: 5m, 5f(1) A prostitute persuades a soldier in a hurry to take her there and then on the banks of the Danube, but curses him when he refuses to tip her. (2) The same soldier seduces a housemaid at the Prater amusement park but then abandons her to go off to dance. (3) The housemaid is interrupted while writing to her lover by the summons of a young gentleman, who proceeds to seduce her. After he leaves, she steals one of his cigars. (4) The gentleman has succeeded in getting a young married woman into bed in his specially rented love nest, but cannot achieve an erection. He blames his impotence on the fact that he loves her too much, and talks of lovers who spend nights together just weeping with happiness. Eventually they make love, and the young wife comments that it was better than weeping. (5) The young wife is warned by her complacent husband to avoid the company of ‘loose women’. When they have made love, the husband smugly recalls their honeymoon five years previously. (6) The husband seduces a ‘sweet young thing’ in a private room in a restaurant but fears that he might have picked up a venereal disease through this casual encounter. (7) The sweet young thing goes to bed with a conceited young poet, whose main concern is whether this enchanting but simple creature will appreciate his new play. (8) The poet succumbs to the advances of an actress, whose lover has just left her, and makes love to her in a country inn. (9) The next day in her bedroom the actress seduces a visiting count, despite his reservations about sex in the early morning. (10) The count wakes up to find himself in a brothel lying beside the prostitute of the first play. She tells him that he was so drunk the previous night that before they could have sex, he fell fast asleep beside her.In this witty and colourful series of episodes Schnitzler makes no attempt to develop strong plots or anything but the briefest of characterizations of his nameless figures. Instead he offers vignettes of sexual behaviour of fin de siècle Vienna at the time Freud was developing his theories there. La Ronde was predictably banned for public performance because of its shocking content, and even Max Reinhardt's production in Berlin a couple of decades later met with great hostility. It still exerts a fascination for the public, especially with contemporary awareness of the merry-go-round of genital infection. The cycle enjoyed a recent revival in London as The Blue Room (adapted by David Hare, 1999), with Nicole Kidman playing all the female roles.

AT: Hands Around; Couples; Circle of Love; Merry-Go-Round; The Round Dance; The Blue Room A: Arthur Schnitzler Pf: 1903, Munich (part); 1920, Berlin (full version) Pb: 1900 (private); 1903 (public) Tr: 1920 G: Com. in 10 linked scenes; German prose S: Vienna and environs, 1890s C: 5m, 5f

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Subjects: Literary Studies (Plays and Playwrights).


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