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27
PAUL H. GRUMMANN
Again and again Schnitzler utilized the observations which he had made
as a physician in his works. His interest, however, is confined to the psychic
phases of his characters. This is particularly evident in his novel, Dying'
(°95), the record of the death of a young consumptive. The instinct to
live is portrayed with rare skill. We follow the man from his optimistic
hopes of ultimate recovery, to his feeling of being completely forsaken —
forsaken by friends, parents, and finally by his sweetheart, who refuses
to die with him, for she also is lured by that mysterious impulse toliveon.
His first works gave evidence that Schnitzler was able to express him¬
self artistically. Few German authors are to be compared with him in this
respect. Conscious of his ability in this field, he devoted himself to the
further perfecting of his remarkable style. Hostile critics concluded
prematurely that he was therefore devoid of the higher creative faculty,
a criticism that was silenced completely by his first great tirumph in the
drama — the appearance of Flirtation' (°95).
Hans Weiring, violinist in a Vienna theater, has been a widower for
years. He has been a model brother, shielding his sister from the many
temptations about her. She remains a spinster, and her life passes by with¬
out real joy. At her death Weiring is confronted by the question whether
he has after all rendered a great service to her. He is haunted by the
memory of her quiet resignation, and feels that he is to blame for the utter
lack of inspiration and joy in her existence. As a musician at the theater,
he naturally comes to value the romantic sides of life, and therefore he
decides that he will not stand over his daughter Christine with as firma
hand as he had in the case of his sister. Christine, in her most impression¬
able years, becomes acquainted with Mizi, who does not possess a vestige
of virtue. Mizi throws a glamor over her love affairs, and introduces
Christine to Fritz Lobheimer. Christine is told that this is only a temporary
relation, but her innate purity makes her assume that it must be more.
Lobheimer has an entanglement with a married woman, and he subordi¬
nates Christine to this other interest. The husband whom he is betraying
traps him and challenges him to a duel. On the night before this duel is
fought, Fritz comes to Christine’s home and realizes from the atmosphere
of the humble place that Christine is superior in every way. Nothing is
said of the duel, and no farewell is taken. After his death Christine realizes
what a trivial part she has played in his life and commits suicide. Her
lapse is motivated not only by the absence of a mother and the beautiful
but unsound lenience of her father — but also by the attitude of various
characters of her environment who indirectly help in shaping her inner life.
A summer resort in the vicinity of Vienna is the scene of the next play,
Free Game’ (°96). The theatrical company is the center of interest in