About Vienna - Your City Travel Guide
About Vienna - Your City Travel Guide
About Vienna - Your City Travel Guide


Austrian literature: Arthur Schnitzler

Arthur Schnitzler
(1862 - 1931)

Arthur Schnitzler is one of Austria's literary heavyweights. He received extensive training in medicine and was especially interested in psychology, an interest that influenced his writing a great deal. A contemporary of Sigmund Freud, Schnitzler was impressed by the idea of a repressed unconscious. His prose "Leutnant Gustl" (Ensign Gustl) wass written in stream of consciousness technique and was published in 1900, well before James Joyce wrote his 'Ulysses'.

His plays 'Reigen' and 'Liebelei' are possibly his best known works and scandalized the Vienna of the 1920's with a honest depiction of the lax moral manners behind a conservative surface. The characteres are types rather than individuals. In 'Reigen' they do not have names but are called after their function husband, wive, young man, sweet girl and so on. In all scenes two figures are clearly stating their amorous intentions. One figure is passed on to the next scene, until the last figure meets the first. Exactly as in dancing a round dance, a 'Reigen'.
By the way, the sweet girl ('das süße Mädel') is typical for the Viennese popular theater.

Arthur Schnitzler's view of the world and of society was critical and not very optimistic. Due to this, his writing met with heavy criticism.

His prose 'Traumnovelle' was taken up by Hollywood's dream engine and turned into a major movie starring Nicole Kidman and Tom Cruise and directed by Stanley Kubrik. The name of the movie? Eyes Wide Shut.