box 36/4
Pamphlets offorints
entire lack of preaching in the book, for one of the great virtues of the author
is that he confines himself rigidly to characterization.
Among the acquaintances of Anatol we find the'Sweet Girlie' (Süsze
Mädl), of Viennese life, Sthe suburban girl who loves in the city and marries
in the suburb.' She appears in many of Schnitzler’s works, and has been
depicted with so much cleverness and success that the reader is tempted
to overestimate her importance in the works of the poet. Schnitzler
does not make any type representative of a fixed morality, therefore we find
all shades of virtue and vice in these girls. He has little of Anatol’s patience
for those — many in number — who are not worth consideraticn, but the
major part of his attention is devoted to those whose lives are distorted
by the unfortunate conditions that have grown up in our modern life.
Conventionalism has been too ready to condemn every woman who has
ever taken a false step. The conventional standards have not even acted
as a deterrent to the young girl at the door of womanhood — and the con¬
fession of good and bad in this connection is one cfthe greatest blots upon
our modern civilization. As a man of science, Schnitzler was naturally
cautious about developing new and binding principles of conduct. His
earlier works, however, show that he was interested deeply in two questions:
the rescuing of those who are worthy of a life of seif-respect, and the sig¬
nificance of the double standard of ethics for men and women.
Both of these questions enter into the first drama, The Fairy-tale'
(°94). It depicts the tragedy of Fanny Theren, the daughter of a widow,
who has not had the character and intelligence necessary to guide her two
daughters properly. Fanny, during her adolescence, becomes infatuated
with a young man of no self-respect, and becomes his victim. From this
relation she is rescued by a young physician, who becomes her lover, but
later forsakes her for a conventional marriage. She enters the stage where
she has a measure of success. She now makes the acquaintance of Fedor
Denner, who at a reception in her home defends the thesis that a woman
with a past is not necessarily to be condemned. He refers pointedly to
the fairy tale of our prejudices on this topic. This gives Fanny a new self¬
respect, and inspired by it she rises to real triumphs in her art. But Denner
realizes that Fanny has a past, and in spite of his professions of faith in an
equal standard of morality for men and women. his ardor cools. Repeated
desperate attempts on the part of Fanny to win him back are of no avail.
His feelings completely dominate his convictions. Fanny gives up this last
In contrast with Fanny,
hope and accepts a call to the St. Petersburg stage.
her conventional sister, Klara, becomes a music teacher, and is not beset by
temptations. She marries a good-natured correct official many years her
senior, and settles down to a life of philistinism.