La Ronde (Drama Classics) Paperback – 1 Nov 2007
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The characters of Schnitzler's play talk endlessly of love, but it's sex they are after, and in the end, it is their search for it that spins them off a life-long dance. The moment he finishes with the young maid, the soldier returns to the dance hall. The young wife returns to her husband after her dalliance with the young man. The Count surely is reunited with his friend Louis, uncertain whether or not anything happened with the sleepy prostitute, who reminds him of someone he has met long ago. Was he once the young soldier of the first scene, completing the circle? In the end, Schnitzler's world is not so much an immoral one as it is a society of dissatisfied beings. Rain Taxi Review Of Books --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
About the Author
Arthur Schnitzler (1862-1930), the Austrian author and doctor, is probably best known for his plays 'La Ronde' and 'Liebelei'. His early years were marked by a particular interest in the emergent science of psychology and his writings anticipate Freud's psychopathological theories. Stephen Unwin founded the English Touring Theatre in 1993.
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Top Customer Reviews
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.
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.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
In Scene Three, our maid is at the home of a young gentleman. The gentleman and the maid have sex, then the gentleman leaves. In Scene Four, the young gentleman and the young wife have sex. (she is married, but not to him....) He makes elaborate preparations before the encounter. They make a big deal of their relationship. She says that she loves him. They plan to meet again.
In Scene Five, our young wife and her husband are present. Husband tells the wife how hard it is to be a man, how sexual insecurity must be overcome before marriage (what a trial!). The wife challenges him on his double standard. She calms down and they have sex. He tells her everything she wants to hear. In Scene Six, the husband entertains the sweet young miss. In a dining room, no less. Of course, they have sex. The husband is challenged on another double standard. He wants to know if the lady is married, but she isn't supposed to have the same curiousity. He calms her, and she warms back up to him; they plan to do it again in a more private setting.
In Scene Seven, our sweet young miss is busy with a poet. The poet acts like an artistic type. They profess their mutual love. They have sex. He says that he is Biebitz, and he says that he's not. She doesn't care. They act like they are in love. They part. In Scene Eight, our poet is actively romancing an actress in a country inn. The actress is difficult; she makes the poet leave, call up to the window, then he returns to bed. She puzzles him with a riddle, then, in a shocking turn, they have sex. The actress and the poet then bicker about plays, acting, and performances.
In Scene Nine, our actress meets up with the Count, this in the actress' bedroom. The Count is a pompous braggart, but that doesn't stop them from having sex. They are both happy with it and decide to do it again. In the final scene, the count meets up with the girl of the streets (from scene one). He is sitting on the sofa; she is in bed. Apparently, they have already had sex. He acts as if he doesn't believe that he's done it. He tries to advise her on her career and way of life, then reflects that all women are after money. He decides that he likes the honest approach, and announces that he will return. As the count leaves, he and the maid trade greetings.
The playwright apparently was making fun of the Viennese sexual code of the day, which must have been a sort of "everyone does it, but no one talks about it" scene. He portrays a society of shallow narcissists, interested only in pleasure and the maintenance of appearances. Along the way, Schnitzler challenges several assumptions regarding sexual behavior and gender.
I suppose all this was scandalous and forward-thinking for early 20th century Vienna, but it's boring and predictable now. The dialogue of the play is often interesting, but it doesn't rise above interesting in most of the scenes.
Woman: I can't stay but a minute.
Man: Come closer...take off your corset.
Woman: You're pretty fresh, you are.
Man: A kiss!
Woman: Somebody might see!
Man: We can go somewhere private.
Woman: It's too far...my sister...
Woman: I'm not thirsty.
Man: Stupid thing! My treasure!
Woman: You're tearing my chemise...oooh...
Man: I love you! Let's screw!
Woman: No! Oh, okay.
Woman: What's your name again?