Today is Viennese-Jewish author Arthur Schnitzler’s 150th Birthday. One of the key modernist writers in the German-speaking world, Schnitzler (1862–1931) is regrettably little-known in America. In his plays, stories and novels, Schnitzler painted a vivid portrait of his place and time, fin-de-siècle Vienna. He was also one of the most controversial and experimental writers, both for his psychological realism and his sexual frankness. Freud considered him a kindred spirit and famously wrote to Schnitzler that the author had discovered through intuition and creativity everything that Freud had uncovered via scientific experimentation.
In Europe, the occasion is being marked with critical editions of Schnitzler’s works, film and lecture series and new productions of his plays.
The center of the Schnitzler festivities is, not surprisingly, Vienna. The Burgtheater is presenting its productions of “Professor Bernhardi” and “Das weite Land,” (adapted by Tom Stoppard as “The Undiscovered Country”) while the Theater in der Josefstadt just premiered a staged version of “Traumnovelle,” a story perhaps best known as the inspiration for Stanley Kubrick’s “Eyes Wide Shut.”