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Full text of "ModernGermanLiterature18801950"

NLO-ROMAKYIC   A\<D  AUSTRIAN   DRAMATISTS       235

Der SMeier der Beatrice. Professor Bernhardi (1912) has poignant
interest today because of its discussion of the problem of the Jews
in Vienna. A girl is dying of abortion in the clinic of which Bern-
hardi, a Jew, is the director. The girl is in a state of euphoria; she
is having perhaps the happiest moments of her life, dreaming that
she is getting better and that the lover who is responsible will
soon be coming for her. A pious nurse, without instructions to
do so, sends for a priest to administer the Last Sacrament, but
Bernhardi, knowing that as soon as the patient sees the priest she
will know she is dying, refuses to let him pass. This Jewish pro-
cedure (actually a Christian doctor might have done the same)
gives rise to a great scandal in clerical Vienna, and Bernhardi is
sent to prison for contempt of the State and religion. The play is as
tendentious as a play can well be; and the interest lies in the clash
of argument, the caricature of politicians, and in the depressing
picture of Austrian obscurantism and anti-Semitism. Die Schmstern
oder Casanova in Spa (1919) is a good example of Schnitzler's lighter
manner. Casanova slips away from the card-table to climb to the
bedchamber of a young wife who has given him the glad eye: in
the dark he jumps through the wrong window, but the wife who
happens to be there yields to the moment and to him. The problem
- ironically treated - now is: which female is wronged, the one
who was waiting, or the one who was not? The two women,
meeting the morning after, fly at each other; but all ends well, for
Casanova hath charms ... Seriously treated for the space of a scene
is the problem which provides the action for Beer-Hofmann's Der
Graf von Cbarolais: the wife who yielded to the urge of the moment
argues with her husband, the morning after, that nothing has
happened: she woke up, she says, feeling just the same as she did
the morning before. She assures her husband that she is still his,
because the man who took her is a casual stranger favoured by
the moment; this moment, she swears, will never return; to which
the husband replies that she will always bear the smell of it in her
hair. The conflict is between medical fact - which in this respect
sees no difference between a woman and a rabbit - and the hus-
band's natural obsession that any other man contaminates the
object.

In Schnitzler's tales and novels there is the same sparkle of wit,
the same delicate rendering of nuance, that we find in the plays;
but the filling in of the narration makes them less perfect and