I, Erzählende Schriften 30, Casanovas Heimfahrt, Seite 84

30. Casanovas Heimfahrt
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eldest child is only thirteen; at which point, gentlemen, we have a
perfect right to await the seduction of this eldest daughter, which
comes in time.
I do not recall ever having seen before a structure so elaborately
propped and counter-propped. Nor a piece of prose fiction which
was so much like a play with the he-saids and the she-saids written
in. Schnitzler has become so thoroughly accustomed to objectivi¬
zation that even when Casanova thinks, he thinks visually. Still, it
should be pointed out that the plot is thoroughly in keeping with
the theme, for this is the sequence to eight volumes of more or less
elaborate intrigue; a plea which Schnitzler himself makes as skil¬
fully as anything in thestory, by bringing up here and there various
high points out of the Memoires.
Significantly enough, a somewhat analogous themne has been han¬
dled by Schnitzler’s one superior as a craftsman of German prose; 1
refer to Thomas Mann’s Der Tod in Venedig. Here, however, the
raironneur has been complicated and diseased by years of devotion
to literature; and quite in keeping with the intricacy of von Aschen¬
bach’s brain—over against the flat “dramatic conflict’’ of Casanova
with an eyetooth missing—the plot centres on, not a beautiful
young woman, but a beautiful young Polish boy, the entire story
working among half-stifled and purely cerebral transgressions.
Mann’s treatment is that of a musician, rather than a playwright,
which, I think, will always be the case of a subjective writer who
has gone to the bottom of his methods. Whereas Schnitzler has
produced something as objective as a movie scenario, Mann turns
rather to orchestration, to harmonization, putting out elements not
as plants,“ but as themes to be picked up and developed later, and
assembling his material until he has brought the very air and water
of Venice to bear upon his story. Mann goes for an almost austere
dignity; Schnitzler gets a clarity of evidence which might be found
in the reviewer’s nade mecum, I believe, under Depiction, relent¬
less.“ But if Mallarmé’s claim is just and the artist should accept
first of all those properties which are fundamental to his medium,
Mann is more in his province than Schnitzler, for prose fiction is as
inherently subjective as the stage is inherently objective.