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Full text of "ModernGermanLiterature18801950"

250                  MODERN   GERMAN  LITERATURE

might say of him at once that he would have been an adept in
psycho-analysis if this had not been elaborated as a system by that
other Viennese Jew, Sigmund Freud. Schnitzler attempted the
naturalistic play with freimld (1896), which discusses the ethics
and idiocy of duelling, and Das Vermdchtnis (i 898), on the theme
of the unmarried mother; but for his other plays he turned his
back on the proletariat, keeping only the working-class girl - das
susse Madl- as a toy for his men about town. He had already, with
Anatol (1893), a cycle of seven one-act plays, found his natural
manner. These psycho-grammatic playlets are something quite
new. They tend to be novelettes in dialogue form - more or
less the French camerie as cultivated by (e.g.) Paul Hervieu. But
there is nothing French in the substance or mood of the plays:
Schnitzler does, it is true, handle his characters with malice afore-
thought as puppets - one cycle of playlets (Marlonetten^ 1906) indi-
cates this by the title; but probably he owed nothing more than
suggestion to Maeterlinck's drames pour marionettes. Schnitzler's
characters are only marionettes in the sense that they are creatures
of nerves and impulse (^Stimmungen unterworfen\ like the novelist
inUteratur)\ they have no will, the will that moves them is in the
purpose of the universe, not in them. Anatol fixed Schnitzler's
reputation from the start as a cynic of 'melancholy cheerfulness5.
Anatol is the vweur of so many of Schnitzler's plays and tales, not
(to misquote Dryden) cursedly confined to one, but lighting the
extinguished torch (or rather spluttering candle) of one love in-
stanter at the bosom of the next. Two men are constant to the
seven playlets, Anatol and Max; the women change from play to
play. Anatol dreamily sentimentalizes his lady of the moment: his
susses Madl will have 'die weiche Anmut ernes Fmblingsabends\ 'den
Gelst, . . . der <%u lieben weiss\ 'lachelnde, schalkhafte Wehmut\ the
lifting grace of the Blue Danube waltz. Max faces his boon com-
panion as the cynical ralsonneur who disperses with a cold breath
the cobwebs of love-borne fancy. Anatol is conscious of his elegant
decadence: 'Ichfuhle* he says, *n>ie viel mir verhren gingey wenn ich
mich ernes schonen Tages "stark" fande . . . Esgibtso viele Krankheiten
and nur tine Gesmdheit  . Man muss immer genau so gesund sein me
die anderen - man kann abergan^ anders krank sein mejeder andere? In
other words, the interesting thing is the infinite variety, to a dissect-
ing dramatist, of disease; and what we must expect in Schnitzler's
work is dissection and illumination of phases of disease, of decay