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on 22 August 2004
This is an intriguing drama, which involves ten different characters (five male, five female), and the sexual games they play in turn-of-the-century Vienna.

It takes the form of ten duologues, opening with a seduction scene between 'the prostitute' and 'the soldier'. They flirt, argue, lie, and finally have sex. The scene ends there, and the following is between the soldier and 'the chambermaid', who is in turn seduced by the soldier. She goes on to seduce the 'young gentleman' in the next scene; he seduces 'the young wife'...etc. The play goes round in a 'sexual merry-go-round' until we eventually meet the prostitute again.

It is a story of sexual promiscuity, about the 'facade' of seduction, and the danger of confusing sex with love. It also presents an interesting idea about the nature of sex: that it is sex, not death, that is the great 'leveller' - this is a play where chambermaids sleep with gentlemen, prostitutes with counts.

It is also, of course, brilliantly funny, sharply observed, and always pacey drama.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 26 August 2013
'La Ronde' - the better known French title to English speakers of Arthur Schnitzler's masterpiece Reigen (German Edition) on fin de siecle Vienna - is a play portraying the city / culture / times through ten dialogues between 'lovers'. These form a circle, in which one of the participants stays constant to the next one, with a new entrant taking the place of the previous partner.

In spite of the book consisting of ten seduction / pillow talk scenes, it is neither obscene nor steamy - while late 19th century Vienna was certainly completely different to Victorian Britain (which the book portrays excellently), the play was still too avant garde for showing in theatres in its complete form until several decades later.

And it is this Vienna, or the Austro Hungarian society more broadly that the book depicts very well. The relationships, all in essence unequal socially, clearly demonstrate that in spite of the games of seduction and submission there is no one stronger partner, gender, or station in life - this balance being perhaps much more strongly present in Austro Hungary than in any of the other colonial empires of the time.

On top of this excellent portrayal of society, the book is also a pleasure to read, with witty dialogue and an excellent use of language. As the original is written in authentic Viennese dialect (and therefore not understandable for most) this is probably the best option for English speakers.
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on 4 March 2013
An intriguing tale with complex story lines beautifully described. Excellent! I enjoyed the word-play, the complexity and the way in which Schnitzler is able to confound, create and confirm all within one short play.
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