The extraordinary Viennese writer Arthur Schnitzler (1862-19310) was born in Vienna, the son of a prominent Jewish laryngologist, Schnitzler studies medicine at Vienna University but soon abandoned medicine for writing. From 1895 he attracted public attention as a dramatist. Concentrating on sex and death, his work shows a remarkable capacity to create atmosphere and to pursue profound, ruthless and often Freudian analysis of human motives.
This reprint of a 1927 American edition gives a new generation of English-speaking readers the opportunity to discover the Viennese novelist and dramatist's (1862-1931) haunting erotic fantasy, which blends dreams and reality. Summoned to a patient's bedside, Fridolin, a physician, begins a night-long journey through events in which he is merely an ineffectual observer. Finding his patient dead, Fridolin wanders the streets, is insulted by a student and responds aggressively--in his imagination. He meekly follows a prostitute to her rooms, but is frozen by fear. Entering a bizarre costume party uninvited and arrogantly challenging a guest to a duel, he is saved by an anonymous woman who buys his freedom with her life. Returning home, Fridolin wakes his wife, Albertina, who describes her own adventure, a dream in which the ever-faithful Fridolin is crucified while she laughs at his horrible death. Schnitzler's characters ultimately return from these sleeping and waking ``dreams,'' but the daily routine in which they take refuge is shown to be a veneer, pasted over the unresolved, unsettling problems that color this portrait of the soul's double ( Apr. )