Night Games: And Other Stories and Novellas Paperback – 8 Mar 2003
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At his best, Schnitzler really can see into souls and give voice to the chaos he finds there....Behind all the fin-de-siecle props--demimondaines, officers, aristocrats, duels, dances, and dalliances--lurks something strangely modern.
"At his best, Schnitzler really can see into souls and give voice to the chaos he finds there...Behind all the fin-de-siecle props--demimondaines, officers, aristocrats, duels, dances, and dalliances--lurks something strangely modern."
"A fine selection of a crucial body of work, well worth rediscovering: humane, satirical and magnificent."
About the Author
Arthur Schnitzler (1862D1931), Austrian physician, dramatist, and novelist, was among the most sophisticated writers of his time. Margret Schaefer, who has taught at the University of California, Berkeley, and the University of Illinois, Chicago, has written on Wilde, von Kleist, and Kafka as well as on the history of psychoanalysis and psychology. She lives in Berkeley, California. Her translation of Arthur Schnitzler's Night Games won the 2002 Bay Area Book Reviewers' Award for a book of translations published by a Northern California author.
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In ?Night Games?, Lieutenant Willi Kasda has to come up with 1?000 gulden within 24 hours. Seeing no other way, he joins a card game. But the devil in disguise is dealing the cards and the night spirals toward a disastrous ending. The description of the all-night game alone is an unforgettable piece of literature. Willi?s descent into hell is described in minute and gripping detail.
?The Dead are Silent?: Franz and Emma go for a night ride to the outskirts of town. There is an accident. leaving Emma to her own devices. How does she get home before her husband? A cliffhanger.
?Blind Geronimo and his Brother?: Geronimo and his brother Carlo are panhandlers. Geronimo plays the guitar and sings, while Carlo collects the offerings. When they were children, an accident caused by Carlo resulted in his brother?s blindness. Now Carlo sees the sole purpose of his life in caring for Geronimo. But can a blind man trust Carlo? Slowly but surely things fall apart.
?A Farewell?: Albert waits for his beloved Anna, who is closely watched by her husband. And he waits, getting more desperate by the hour and the day. What could possibly have happened? The story goes from bad to worse, carefully analyzing Albert?s frame of mind.
?The Second?: It shows us the idiocy of dueling and its code. The narrator is an almost professional second on such occasions. At the present one, Eduard Loiberger gets killed - who is to bring the news of this senseless death to Agatha, his widow? The narrator, who feels an attachment to Agatha, tries to accomplish this task.
?Baron von Leisenbogh?s Destiny?: The baron is deeply in love with Clara Hell, a singer. For ten years he follows her throughout Europe, without coming close to his goal. Will he be rewarded in the end? That is where the surprise comes in, deftly maneuvered by the author.
?The Widower?: Richard?s wife suddenly dies and he is devastated. But was she really the saint he imagined her to be? What about his best friend Hugo? And how to handle him? The solution is not exactly Freudian.
?Death of a Bachelor?: Three friends are called to the bedside of the bachelor who, however, just had died. He has left them a confession concerning the wives of each one. How do they deal with the letter? Three situations - can there be just one solution? Each friend has to examine his relation to his wife.
?Dream Story?: Fridolin and Albertine have an open marriage, telling each other what normally would be kept secret. But there is a difference. Fridolin has a nightly adventure that is quite real but sounds like a dream. He decides not to tell his wife about it. Albertine has a dream involving an unknown man and she tells her husband about it. Can Fridolin take it? Will the dream, to him, have some basis in fact?
The stories and novellas are old fashioned and may not be to everybody?s taste. They are superbly written, though, and a document to the times. Kudos also to the translator.
"Death of a Bachelor" is a masterpiece!
There is also much that deals with infidelity and sexual liaisons, presented in what is a rather sedate manner of the time.
I do not doubt that Schnitzler might have well 'spiced up' his text in a current writing, but had bowed to the mores of the time.
The works are enjoyable, though not clearly the taste that will appeal to all palates.