Arthur Schnitzler is regarded as one of the most important writers of Viennese Modernism around 1900 and, as a doctor of medicine with a PhD, was keenly interested in Sigmund Freud's studies. Both influences can be clearly felt in his 1926 Dream Novella (Traumnovelle): the basic mood of the Fin-de-Siècle, combined with the findings of emerging psychoanalysis and dream interpretation. At the centre of his prose narrative are the Viennese doctor Fridolin and his wife Albertine, whose marriage is about to end because they both do not see their wishes and erotic desires fulfilled in living together as a couple. Fridolin experiences an exhilarating adventure with a stranger - in the same night Albertine surrenders to an acquaintance in her fantasy. In their surreal dreams, which they tell each other about, they meet each other, rediscover the other and through this encounter find each other again even when awake. Schnitzler's Dream Novella is a dissecting study of human instincts and depths. To this day, it fascinates us with its relentless look into the unconscious and its depth-psychological narrative, but particularly because it is highly unsettling in the inextricable mixture of dream level and reality.
26 September 2019