box 36/4
Pamphlets, offprints
the fact that he was once a doctor, he is reminiscent of Mr. Henry
James—of a Mr. James, however, who writes without preciosity
about individuals linked with ordinary human beings by someshred
of normality. Among his short stories we would mention in par¬
ticular Die Frau die Weisen, Das neue Lied, and the hypnotic
fantasia at the beginning of Dammerseelen. His latest novel,
moreover, Der Weg ins Freie, is achef d’aurre, with its delicate
and exhaustive analysis of the more modern phases of Viennese
life. His style, it should be added, flows with a limpidity and
is balanced by a cadence found only too rarely in the German
To revert, however, to Schnitzler the dramatist, what are his
chief claims, his chief excellencies, his chief defects? It seems
to us that the essence of his merit lies in the fact that he handles
problems neither as ends in themselves, as do the more advanced
of our own dramatists, nor yet, like Sudermann, as mere pegs
on which to hang violently theatrical stage effects. Some
problem may constitute the centre of most of his plays; yet,
with a few exceptions, this problem is not presented too nakedly
or without sufficient relief. Each problem is bathed in an artistic
atmosphere and each character in the picture limned with the
most subtle psychology. It is true that, as has already been
pointed out, many of the acts in his longer dramas exhibit too
strong a tendeney to form self-independent pictures; yet it is
this defect which forms the chief charm of his one-acters. It
is true that nearly all his characters are Bohemian—artists,
fläneurs, actresses, journalists, doctors, painters—yet cach author
creates as of right the population of his own individual world;
and is it not rather a claim to glory to have attained such heights
of dramatie celebrity and yet scarcely ever to have written a
single play specifically devoted to fashionable life? It is true
that the ethics of these plays, with their chronic and inevitable
intrigues, may strike the English mind as somewhat unnsual;
get Schnitzler enjoys the reputation of being the most brilliant
and accurate portrayer of contemporary Viennese life. After
all, from the standpoint of dramatic art, that which counts is
not the ethics but the presentation of the problem.
Tet, with all his subtlety and all his problems, he is never
heavy. Vienna stands intellectually nearer to Paris than to
Berlin, so that the Teutonic introspection and sentimentalism
are tonched with a Gallic sprightliness and a Gallie grace. No
dramatist has written tragedy with so light a hand, or comedy
with so ironically pathetic a smile as has Arthur Schnitzler.
Honacr B. SamuEn.