La Ronde the original German name is Reigen  is a controversial play with provocative sexual themes, written by Arthur Schnitzler in It scrutinizes the sexual morality and class ideology of its day through successive encounters between pairs of characters before or after a sexual encounter. By choosing characters across all levels of society, the play offers social commentary on how sexual contact transgresses class boundaries. Printed privately in , it was not publicly performed until , when it provoked strong reactions. La Ronde was first printed in for private circulation amongst friends.
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When Arthur Schnitzler was sixteen years old, his physician father discovered the boy had visited a house of ill repute. He did not lecture him, but required him to read through a tome about venereal diseases, filled with grisly illustrations. This lesson did not restrain his amorous pursuits. However, it was not his personal adventures with women that aroused the critical attention of the public, such adventures were countless at the turn of the century in Vienna, but his stage dramas that called attention to that kind of behavior, criticizing it as being heartless, banal.
It was bad taste to mention, let alone criticize, questionable behavior. His literary reputation began as the author of a cycle of one-act dramas about the adventures of the carefree rake, Anatol. Yet everything that Schnitzler thought about love-making based only on sexuality he wrote into this play. His message is that all levels of society are the same in their approach to eroticism, all self-centered. Hands Around is a beautiful work of art, perfect in its economic use of time and language.
In his day, the author of it was accused of depicting and arousing immoral behavior. That same year in November, in a stormy court case in Berlin, the judge dismissed a charge that the drama was immoral. Schnitzler, who had not anticipated these affairs, himself withdrew the play from public production in the German-speaking countries.
In Russia, Czechoslovakia, and France, especially, this work was and remained popular. Orphuls added a master of ceremonies to direct the viewer from one couple to the next, and a merry-go-around to strengthen the point. I can but hope that he was too busy hob-nobbing with the other interesting people he had found in hell to notice the foolishness aboveground.
Nowadays, considering that although one might still be disgusted, there is little on stage or screen to shock anybody although Schnitzler would probably faint away if he were to watch a modern TV drama , Hands Around requiring as it does imagination and experience to get the point could hardly raise and eyebrow in The Bible Belt—or could it?
More distressing for Arthur Schnitzler than the accusations from the right-wing and clerical press that his works were immoral was the more or less explicit anti-Semitism in each article about him. Dalloway The story looks out from the rather dull head of a young lieutenant throughout a night in which he thinks of committing suicide.
Earlier on that evening, bored from a rather long concert in the music hall, he is rude to a baker while pushing forward in line at the coat check counter. The baker insults him in return. When he has left the situation behind, Gustl remembers that he is bound to a military code of honor which requires him to challenge those who insult him. Through the night he worries until toward morning he begins to accept the inevitable, that he must challenge the baker to a duel.
He will make hamburger of him, he thinks. The criticism of the military code was not lost on his critics, nor on the authorities. In , he was removed from the list of reserve officers of the Austrian-Hungarian military and made a simple soldier in reserve.
Fortunately, he was in his fifties in , when World War I began, and was not called into service. He was practically alone among his close literary friends in opposing the war, and for him the world as he understood it ended when it began. Although he wrote up until the time of his death, none of his works is set after His late dramatic work, the five-act play Professor Bernhardi, directly addressed the theme of anti-Semitism. In it Schnitzler so exactly caught the Austrian mentality that the work was banned for many years in Vienna, while from it played in Berlin and he received a standing ovation on its th evening there.
In the play, Professor Bernhardi is the head of a clinic. One of his patients, a young girl who is dying from a botched abortion, is in a euphoric state as she nears her end. She imagines that she is well and that her lover is coming to carry her away. The ward nurse calls a priest. Eventually, the matter becomes so complex that Bernhardi is removed from his post and must serve two months in prison.
Friends he thought he could count on are able to justify to themselves why they do not assist him. Within the hierarchy of the clinic itself, as within Parliament, people maneuver for advantage. Today the drama is as apt as ever and a Viennese will understand that it depicts typical Viennese behavior. This attitude, of feeling oneself better than most other Viennese, most other folk, is so enduringly Viennese!
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He spent five years studying medicine at the Vienna University and became an admirer of Sigmund Freud. Later Schnitzler and Freud became closer friends and shared many similar ideologies. After his studies at the University he joined the army for one year and received his doctorate at the same time. In Sigmund Freud and Schnitzler shared many ideas and interests, which examined the theories of unconsciousness and sub-consciousness. From the year onwards, Schnitzler and Hugo von Hofmannsthal belonged to an elite artistic group called the "Wiener Modern". Only three years later Schnitzler decided to open his own private practice to be able to focus more on his writing.
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