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Full text of "ModernGermanLiterature18801950"

232                  MODERN   GERMAN  LITERATURE

Here, obviously, Paracelsus is speaking for the physician-dramatist
Life had been wistfully imaged in the prologue written by Hof-
mannsthal for Anatol (p. 212) as a weary play-acting with balks
Empfinden. Such low pressure of emotion implies Heldenhsigkelt\
and indeed even the heroes of Schnitzler's Renaissance tragedies
are creatures of mood. Only once, perhaps, in Schnitzler's work
is this halbes Empfinden intensified to full tragic feeling: in Liebelei
(i 89 5); a youth has had a dangerous liaison with a married woman,
has freed himself and attached himself to the usual susses Madl, but
is killed in a duel by the husband of his former mistress; the girl
cannot at first realize that what she thought was love was Liebelei,
and when she does she commits suicide. The ten dialogues of
Reigen (1900) are necessarily indecent, because they are the demon-
stration of facile coition, such as any physician or court missionary
could piece together from experience of human nature - which is
literally, at its erotic rawest, as here presented. We go round a
lively circle of clasped playlets: in the first street-girl and common
soldier have their sordid moment, in the second this soldier and
the housemaid, then housemaid and son of the house, and so on
till in the tenth dialogue the circle meets with the street girl coup-
ling with a count. Thus all classes and ages are linked by one
common need. In 'Literatur, one of the three one-act plays of
ILebendige Stunden (1902), Schnitzler comes nearest to the accepted
idea of comedy: there is real fun in the gradual discovery by two
lovers who have separated that each has embodied the love-letters
of the other (copies having been kept of what each wrote as well
as the replies) in novels actually in the press.

Schnitzler's full-size plays lack the formal perfection of his
curtain-raisers, and rely mostly for their effect on the discussion of
some social problem - that is, they are tendentious. Der Schhier der
Beatrice (1899) is a full-fledged Renaissance tragedy: the crowded,
complicated, and kaleidoscopic action passes in one short night,
which is sufficient to fashion forth the rushed fierce joy of living
of the cinquecento - cdas Leben ist die Fulle, nicht die Zeif, runs the last
line. In style and construction the play comes near to de Musset's
Ij3ren^accio\ both plays have fullness without form. Cesare Borgia
- a red demon lighting up the livid background - is expected to
storm Bologna on the morning following the events, and the
Duke has the idea of ending life with a splash by marrying a
beautiful girl of the lowest class whom he has seen by chance in