box 36/4
Pamphlets, offprints
of the efficient chorus girl. For Anna, Paul Rohring, an
analytical painter, entertains feelings which are quixotic, and
Karinski, a heavy bully of a fire-cater, feelings typical of a less
exalted Don. But the overtures of Karinski are rebuffed
ignominiouslv. Rohring cannot repress the smile of sarcastic
triumph. The discomfited lady-killer, aspersing the name of
Anna with an insolent gaucherie, has his ears boxed for his pains.
The inevitable challenge is brought to Rohring by one Poldi, the
complete exponent of punctilious aristocracy, the past-master in
all the intricacies of the duel codex, the super-gentleman. But
Rohring, who is anxions to marry Anna and live a long and happy
life, rejects the inevitable challenge. Genuine consternation on
the part of Poldi, who explains that the unpurged shame of the
box on the ear spells ruin to Karinski’s military career. Poldi
proposes a compromise—the solemn farce of a bloodless duel.
Rohring, however, disdains playing dummy parts in solemn
farces. It is all madness. It is in vain that the incarnation of
military honour expostulates.
For yon it is madness, but others have grown up in this
madness; what is madness to you is for others the very element
in which they live.
Finally, Rohring is given to understand that unless he flees the
ontraged Karinski will shoot him at sight. But with a somewhat
human perversity our heroic painter refuses to run away. An
encounter à l'Americaine takes place in the gardens, but
Rohring, drawing just a second too late, is shot dead. And now,
as orthodox applause to the red-handed, cold-blooded murderer
comes from the mouth of Karinski's own friend in six words the
indictment of the duel, irrevocably damning in the cold subtlety
of its satire: And now yvou have won back your honour.?
If, however, in this play Schnitzler proved his ability to write
a problem drama which should be something more than a mere
scries of isolated phases, we find again in his next play, The Call
of Life, in spite of its many excellences, the old taint of the
one-act drama.
The motif of the play is the claim of the desire for life to ride
rough-shod over all other claims. A beautiful daughter is wasting
the best years of her life in the care of a querulous father, incur¬
ably ill, but never dving. The little garrison town is agog with
the excitement of a newly declared war. This war, moreover,
has a special interest in that the local regiment, the Blue
Curassiers, had in the last war by ignominious flight branded
itself with shame. Though this episode took place over thirty
vears ago and none of the actual renegades are now in the regi¬
ment, the Blue Hussars, with that inflated idca of honour only