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Full text of "ModernGermanLiterature18801950"

NEO-ROMANTIC   AND   AUSTRIAN   DRAMATISTS        233

the street. A formal marriage might seem a waste of ceremony,
but the girl makes this condition - she has dreamed that she was
Duchess of Bologna, and she has related the course of this Wunsch-
trattm to her lover, Filippo Loschi, a poet so lost in musings that
he does not even remember his own poetry. He interprets the
dream as a revelation of inner lubricity, calls her the soiled ^Dirne
ihres Traums\ and sends her packing. She glides away from the
marriage festival, in her long white veil, and goes to Filippo, who
asks her to die with him. But she is afraid of death, and when he
quaffs his cup of poison she goes back to the Duke, in her con-
fusion leaving her veil behind her. The Duke will forgive her
absence on one condition: that she takes him to the spot where
she has left the veil. She does so, and is stabbed by her brother by
the corpse of her lover. The play tells on the stage by its picture
of Renaissance licentiousness; the orgy in the dark of night in the
Duke's garden is like an exhibition, from a doctor's point of
vision, of all erotic frenzy and perversion. The psychological prob-
lem is in the girl's attraction to and fear of death. In Der einsame
Weg (1903) there is something of Ibsen's probing technique. The
action which matters is unrolled in the past of twenty years before,
when Fichtner had a liaison with the mother of Felix, who - a
good boy - is shocked by the revelation that his real father is not
the husband of his mother - who dies at the start of the play -,
but this extinct painter, who claims possession of his son because
he is pathetically old and lonely. But Felix denies his right to pos-
session - he has procreated him, but not reared him; and to Felix
the tragedy is in the cheating, by his mother and Fichtner, of his
good if humdrum father. The theme runs parallel with that of
Schnitzler's long novel Der Weg ins Freie: in both works the artist
abandons the girl he loves for the sake of freedom in his art, and
in both the freedom is illusory - the painter loses his productivity,
while the composer in the novel is doomed to be an eternal dilet-
tante. In play and novel Schnitzler exposes the biological and
social effects of the Verbatims. The most subtle of Schnitzler's
plays, perhaps, is Zwischenspiel (1904). Amadeus, a musical con-
ductor, has always been faithful to his wife Cacilie, an opera singer,
and she has been true to him through the boredom of family life;
but now they feel that their marriage is loveless, and they agree to
each other's freedom. The conductor goes away with a countess
who has thrust herself upon him, and Cacilie fulfils an engagement