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— ARTHUR SCHNITZLER
By Paur H. GRUMMANN
IENNA, with its peculiar traditions, accepted German natural¬
ism only with modifications. Hermann Bahr, notable as a
critic, produced a number of naturalistic dramas without,
however, making a profound impression. Indeed, Vienna
seemed to be turning away from naturalism to an artificial,
snobbish romanticism, when Arthur Schnitzler sounded a
new note in a series of dramatic dialogues published under the title of
Anatol. Schnitzler had been born in Vienna in 1862, where he devoted
himself to the study and practice of medicine, serving for a time as assistant
in the larger hospitals. Keen and philosophical by nature, the psycho¬
logical problems presented in his practice became so interesting to him
that he turned from his profession to his old pastime of poetry for a
career.
At first sight it might seem that Schnitzler’s attitude toward his work
would be identical with Hauptmann’s. Hauptmann, however, approaches
his work in the spirit of the professional psychologist. He presents charac¬
ters that illustrate various psychological principles. This is done so cieverly,
to be sure, that the process is not to be discerned in the finished drama. In
Schnitzler we have a keen, scientifically trained man, who turns his ability
as a diagnostician loose upon his environment, and records what he sees.
Since Vienna is his environment, and since he is interested in moral prob¬
lems, the erotic element occupies a large place in his works. His attitude
has been termed cynical — an opinion which is scarcely correct. He is
objective in agreement with the naturalistic point of view.
A careful reading of Anatol (°92) must convince any unbiased reader
of this fact. Anatol is an introspective poet, a man of exquisite culture and
jaded nerve, who analyzes his cmotions and broods over his experiences.
He is presented in seven love adventures — at most of which Max, his
practical, half cynical friend, is present. This gives the author constant
opportunity for subtle character contrasts. As might be expected, Anatol
in his many adventures does not meet a single woman of real self
respect. Max readily estimates these women at their true worth; Anatol
takes a melancholy delight in his many disappointments. The attempt
to identify Schnitzler himself with Anatol is as absurd as the confounding
of a physician with his patient. This identification is probably due tothe
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