box 36/4
Pamphlets, offprints
found in Teutonic countries, resolve to purge the disgrace by
dying gloriously in the front of the fray. Among the officers is
Lieutenant Max, who has cast on Marie, the beautiful daughter,
eyes of admiration. Trony, morcover, sharpens the situation when
the bedridden father, who was once riding-master in the Blue
Cuirassiers, explains that he himself was responsible for the
historic flight.
What was the good of it? Who would have thanked me?
They would have put me in a grave with a thousand others and
piled the carth on top, and that would have been the end of it.
And I wouldn't have it. I wanted to live—to live like others.
I wanted to have a wife and children and live. And so I rushed
from the field; and so it has happened that the young men whom
I don't know are going to their death and that I still live on at
seventy-nine and will survive them all—all—all.?' The old soldier,
however, is unduly sanguine as to the protraction of his life, for
the same call of life which ordered him from the battle, orders
his daughter to pour poison into the water for which he now
It is outside the purpose of this essay to argue the ethics of
this precipitation of the inevitable. Suffice it that it constitutes
a most efficient curtain, a curtain, however, so efficient that there
seems no compelling necessity for a continuation of the play.
A continuation, however, there is, and in the rooms of Max,
which arc visited at night by Marie, who ensconces herself behind
a curtain. She sees the major’s wife come to urge a vain prayer
that he should desert the army and elope with her. They are
discovered by the major, who, shooting the wife, spares the lover.
It is, however, when the major leaves that we understand the¬
intense hypertrophy of life evoked by imminent death. Marie,
knowing all, yet presents herself. Max can only realise that his life
has but a few remaining hours, and that these remaining hours
stand now before him. Another curtain, strong, if slightly crude,
vet followed by a third act which is nothing but an epilogue.
This somewhat exaggerafed scorn, however, of such of the
more complicated effects of theatricalism as are manifested in the
ingenious concatenation of the plot, or the representation of
sensational incidents which have no justification but their own
inherent dramatic force, fails absolutely to affect Schnitzler’s
position as a writer of one-act plays. Indeed, it is his subordina¬
tion of plot to atmosphere that constitutes in this sphere his
paramount excellence. As, morcover, Mr. Henry James in bis
Embarrassments and Terminations wrote short stories independ¬
ent in themselves yet harmonised with some permeating moti),
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