Schnitzler, Arthur

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.

Schnitzler, Arthur

Arthur Schnitzler (är´tŏŏr shnĬts´lər), 1862–1931, Austrian dramatist and novelist. The son of a prominent Jewish Viennese physician, he studied and practiced medicine until he attracted critical notice with his drama Anatol (1893, tr. 1982), a cycle of one-act plays concerning a philanderer. He followed a similar format in La Ronde (1900, tr. 1982), a cycle of plays about related sexual liaisons, which later served as inspiration for a 1950 Max Ophuls film and a 1998 David Hare drama. Schnitzler's plays, novellas, and novels of fin-de-siècle Vienna are distinguished by their sparkling wit, brilliant style, and clinical observations of human psychology and social disintegration. His concern is with individual happiness, his approach is subtle and amoral, his tone unsentimental and ironic, and his dramatic problems often focused on love and sexual faithfulness. Among his more significant dramas are Liebelei (1895, tr. The Reckoning, 1907); The Lonely Way (tr. 1915), on artistic dedication; The Vast Domain (1911, tr. 1923); and Professor Bernhardi (tr. 1928) a tragedy about anti-Semitism. Of his novels, The Road to the Open (1908, tr. 1923) is autobiographical; he also wrote several novellas and numerous short stories.

See biography by S. Liptzin (1932); studies by B. Schneider-Halvorson (1983), P. W. Tax and R. H. Lawson, ed. (1984), and P. Gay (2001).

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