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Panphs Offorints
33
PAUL H. GRUNMANN
conditions, her innate respectability leads her to consider this bond as
permanent, while to him it is an intcresting episode. She returns to her
village where she witnesses the tragic death of a young woman, Who has
thrown herseif away for sensuous pleasures. This clarifies her views.
Kneeling at this death bed, she knew that she was not one of those who,
endowed with a frivolous nature, are permitted to drink the joys of life
without hesitation.
A novelette, Lieutenant Gustl’ (’0l), relates the monologue of the
officer of that name on the night before his ducl. Against his wishes he
finds it necessary to attend a concert, which becomes an ordeal to him.
Exasperating incidents at the check room threaten to upset his temper
completely, when a master baker seizes his arm and whispers into his car,
If you do not behave I shall draw your sword, break it, and send it to your
regiment. Do you understand, you foolish boy.' The conditions make
immediate retaliation impossible, and Gustl’s honor is compromised a
second time. Since the baker may tell the episode, Gustl feels that he
must obey the code and commit suicide. For fifty pages we follow the
disjointed ante-mortem mutterings of this platitudinous officer. Finally he
makes up his mind that he might as well eat breakfast before his suicide,
and enters a restaurant, where by accident he learns that the master baker
who has insulted him has died during the night. Beside himself with joy
Gustl now proceeds to the barracks for his day’s service, with the resolve
to’pound his adversary to pulp’ in his duel. This novelette is deservedly
popular, because it gives a clear insight into the life of a considerable number
of Vienna officers. During the reading of these broken sentences one is in
constant danger of feeling bored, but at the end one is amazed at the vivid¬
ness of the picture which the author has conveyed. Unconsciously the
reader enters upon all of the thoughts and interests of this man.
Under the collective title, Living Hours,' four one-act plays were
published in °02. They discuss certain phases of the psychology of fin-de¬
siecle winters. The first play, the name of which applies to the whole
series, consists of a dialogue between Anton Hausdorfer, a pensioned official,
and Heinrich, a literary man. Heinrich’s mother, an invalid, commits
suicide because she feels that she is a burden to her son. This sacrifice is
accepted by Heinrich rather too lightly. Anton has enjoyed the friendship
of Heinrich’s mother and feels the cruelty of the young man. With pa¬
tience and calmness he analyzes Heinrich’s attitude and points with re¬
signed sorrow to the living hours’ that have been sacrificed to his literary
ambition.
The Woman with the Dagger’ shows how a dream may clarify the
troubled mind of the dreamer. Pauline is married to a dramatist, who is