box 36/4
Pasphlets, offorints
this rather insignificant place. Anna Riedel, an orphan, has joined this
company in order to make a place for herself as an actress. Her talent
and general intelligence command respect, but she has not reckoned with
her environment. No one in the company expects her to maintain her
self-respect. The manager regrets that she has not become the object
of attentions from a number of the lascivious patrons of the place, for the
actresses that maintain such relations are profitable to him. Some of her
associates feel a certain contempt for her, others are angered at her supposed
superciliousness. She wins the respect of Paul Rönning, a wealthy young
man who has just recovered from a serious illness. Paul understands her
desperate situation, and tries to shield her. He has even offered her
financial assistance, but she has had the good sense to refuse it. Among
the guests is Lieutenant Karinski, a rake of the worst type. He is hope¬
lessly involved in gambling debts and love affairs. Without provocation,
he has struck down a civilian and expects to be expelled from the service.
This man brags publicly that he can get Anna’s acceptance to an after¬
theater lunch. He goes to her room and is not admitted. When his
failure is disclosed to the company, Paul cannot suppress a faint smile,
at which Karniski becomes incensed. Although Paul makes every possible
attempt to evade him, Karniski continues to grill him and besmirches
Anna’s character until Paul strikes him. The plain justice of Paul’s action
is admitted by every one present, including Karniski’s closest friends.
The military traditions of course call for a duel, but to the amazement of
Karniski's scconds, Paul flatly refuses to fight. After his illness he is in¬
toxicated with the joy of being alive. He looks upon his act merely as a
just punishment for Karniski, but even his own seconds and his dearest
friends disagree with him. Every man of standing withdraws his hand
from him because he undertakes to violate such a sacred institution. Karn.
iski, according to the code, loses his honor and decides to avenge himself
upon Paul. Anna hears of the difficulty and hurries to Paul in order to
rescue him. Although she does not love him, she offers to go away with
him. Paul is warned, but resolutely refuses to flee and is killed by Karniski.
This satire is so convincing because the author has depicted the power
of an old institution over various types of ##n. Poldi Grehlinger, the
hidebound dandy of Vienna sporting circles, looks upon the code as the law
and the prophets. Even Dr. Wellner, a man of scientific training and
liberal in most matters, feels that social forms must give every man an
opportunity to protect his honor.
At this period (°96—97) ten dialogues were written which were subse¬
quently published under the title of Roundels.' At a first glance the reader
wonders whether the author was ambitious to vie with Boccaccio, Rousseau,