Early Works of Arthur Schnitzler
der Mutter zu danken hat!—Ich werde zu Gericht gehen; nun
habe ich mich dazu entschlossen, denn mich dünkt, es ist noch
lange nicht klar genug, wie wenig wir wollen dürfen und wie
viel wir müssen.
Although the story related may have been an incident the
author actually encountered in his medical practice, what
interested him here was undoubtedly the question expressed in
the concluding paragraph just quoted, the question of free will
and to what extent our behavior is determined by environment.
It must be admitted that for many years to come Schnitzler
seems to have been completely under the sway of this deter¬
ministic philosophy. Let us quote from a special study of tbis
phase of his work by Selma Koehler: “ It cannot be denied
that Schnitzler in his writings reveals a philosophy that is above
all else that of the determinist. What his characters are and
what they do depends fundamentally upon what has preceded
and under what conditions they exist. Natural instincts and
pathological tendencies, converging at times with fatal external
influertces, deprive them almost entirely of any freedom of the
will. 59 Körner has come to a similar conclusion: Was als
fatalistische Grundfarbe durch alle bunten Gemälde durch¬
schimmert, die des Dichters Einbildungskraft vor uns hinzau¬
bert, ist sein Bekenntnis zum unbedingten Determinismus.“ e
Granting the seemingly overwhelming evidence of Schnitz¬
ler’s adherence to strict determinism in most of his works, a
noteworthy change in his viewpoint has been evident in more
recent years. In Der Gang zum Weiher (Berlin, 1026), for
instance, the former chancellor, Freiherr von Mayenau, makes
a vigorous protest against this deterministic philosophy and
eloquently avows his faith in the freedom of the will:
Was nennst du vorbestimmt!
Was dir wahrscheinlich dünkt! Und wenn's bestimmt,
Wozu dann all die Müh’ der Uberredung
An mich gewandt? Wär’ ich mir nicht bewußt,
Daß sich am Schicksalssturm, durch den ich sause,
59 The Question of Moral Responsibility in the Dramatic Works of Arthur
Schnitzler,“ The Journal of Englösh and Germanic Philology, XXII (July, 1923), 409.
e Op. cit., 169.