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LITERARE SUPPLENENT.
S
BEATRICE.
Whether his theme is a normal or an
abnormal one, its delicate execution almost
always ensures an ironic and rather melan¬
choly atmosphere for a story by Arthur
Schrtzler. The whole of the volume
Brarkten: A NovEL, ANp ornen Sronins
(Werner Laurie, 7s. 6d. netl gives us
Schnitzler at his best.“ Beatricas’ a longish
short-story, written in 1913, is a much finer
piece of work than its “sequel," Fräulein
Else,' which was in the nature of an exereisin
neurologv. The earlier story is also com¬
pounded öf morbid sentiment and a nervous
crisis, but the refinement of Schnitzler’s
psyclology is never allowed to encroach upon¬
our interest in the two principal characters.
He shows us a mother and son at odds with
their affection for one another. The son is
being swayed by a sentimental aberration, the
mother by a more mature but equally disas¬
trous impulse. To the estrangement caused
by Hugos infatnation for a foolish, vicions
woman Beatrice adds the shame and deception
of her own liaison. Both affairs collapse simul¬
taneously, on his side by inevitable chance,
on hers by a kind of paralysis of emotion. The
reconciliation comes about only by a pact of
suicide. Morbid as the story is, there is nothing
forced in its movement towards tragedy.
Beatrice and her son, although presented in
the light of Schnitzler’s curiously fatalistie
ideas of sex, are of living proportions.
The other five tales are in the same
melanchely strain, but two of them have
an additional wistful beauty. In“ Flewers
we get a delicate, mournful evocation of a love
affair of the past; a man receives Howers from
a former mistress and the news of her death
almost at the same time. The flowers become
withered, but he is still conscions of her
presence; he is released whien they are flung
into the street. Thetale alwags hangs onthe
edge of mere prettiness; it is almost a miracle
that it does not topple over. The same mood
is evident in Farewell,) in which a young
man visits his dying mistress and is thanked
for his sympathy by her husband. There is a
mistress—or, at least, a potential mistress—in
all the stories, which are of the customary
Viennese pattern of life. Butrthat this pattern
does not exclude beautiful as well as graceful¬
thoughts from the stories is adequately proved
by“ The Wife of the Wise Man. Havingread
it, one wonders whether, after all, there is an
intention of irony in the title.