Arthur Schnitzler Dream Story Criticism - Essay

Sol Liptzin (essay date 1932)

(Short Story Criticism)

SOURCE: Liptzin, Sol. “Dream and Reality.” In Arthur Schnitzler, pp. 244-59. New York: Prentice-Hall, 1932.

[In the following essay/excerpt, Liptzin discusses the ways in which Dream Story blurs the boundaries between truth and fiction, reality and illusion, and waking life and dream life.]

The apparent contradictions often encountered in Schnitzler's works result from his anxiety to view each problem from various angles. As the infinite possibilities encased in every situation are unlocked, the sharp distinctions between truth and fiction, reality and illusion, give way. The world becomes surcharged with magic, and our daily scenes take on a semblance of...

(The entire section is 995 words.)

Robert Donald Spector (essay date 1963)

(Short Story Criticism)

SOURCE: Spector, Robert Donald. “Observations on Schnitzler's Narrative Techniques in the Short Novel.” In Studies in Arthur Schnitzler, edited by Herbert W. Reichert and Herman Salinger, pp. 109-16. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1963.

[In the following essay, Spector discusses genre distinctions between the short story and the novella in the five stories by Schnitzler that appear in the volume Viennese Novelettes (1931), including Dream Story.]

While even the best literary critics have been unable to define adequately the short story, novella, and novel, they generally agree about placing individual works within a genre and...

(The entire section is 2666 words.)

Martin Swales (essay date 1971)

(Short Story Criticism)

SOURCE: Swales, Martin. “Morals and Psycho-Analysis.” In Arthur Schnitzler: A Critical Study, pp. 118-49. Oxford: Oxford University Press, Clarendon Press, 1971.

[In the following essay/excerpt, Swales observes that Dream Story explores the tensions between moral consciousness and human psychology within the context of Freudian psychoanalytic theory.]

Paracelsus is a significant statement of Schnitzler's relationship to psycho-analysis in that it recognizes the value of the insights it gives—and at the same time relativizes that value in terms of a reticent and yet passionate moral intention. The same is true of the work which in my view constitutes...

(The entire section is 4185 words.)

Publishers Weekly (review date 23 March 1990)

(Short Story Criticism)

SOURCE: Review of Dream Story, by Arthur Schnitzler, translated by Otto P. Schinnerer. Publishers Weekly 237, no. 12 (23 March 1990): 72.

[In the following review of Dream Story, translated by Otto P. Schinnerer, the reviewer observes that this translation provides a useful introduction to Schnitzler's stories of “haunting erotic fantasy.”]

This reprint of a 1927 American edition [of Dream Story] gives a new generation of English-speaking readers the opportunity to discover the Viennese novelist and dramatist's (1862-1931) haunting erotic fantasy, which blends dreams and reality. Summoned to a patient's bedside, Fridolin, a physician, begins a night-long journey through events in which he is merely an ineffectual observer. Finding his patient dead, Fridolin wanders the streets, is insulted by a student and responds aggressively—in his imagination. He meekly follows a prostitute to her rooms, but is frozen by fear. Entering a bizarre costume party uninvited and arrogantly challenging a guest to a duel, he is saved by an anonymous woman who buys his freedom with her life. Returning home, Fridolin wakes his wife, Albertina, who describes her own adventure, a dream in which the ever-faithful Fridolin is crucified while she laughs at his horrible death. Schnitzler's characters ultimately return from these sleeping and waking “dreams,” but the daily routine in which they take refuge is shown to be a veneer, pasted over the unresolved, unsettling problems that color this portrait of the soul's double.

Harvey Pekar (review date fall 1990)

(Short Story Criticism)

SOURCE: Pekar, Harvey. Review of Dream Story, by Arthur Schnitzler, translated by Otto P. Schinnerer. Review of Contemporary Fiction 10, no. 3 (fall 1990): 207-09.

[In the following review of Dream Story, Pekar contends that the work is an outstanding achievement by a major modernist writer.]

In 1887 Eduard Dujardin wrote the first stream-of-consciousness novel, Les Lauriers sont coupé, and George Moore employed stream-of-consciousness passages in A Mere Accident. Schnitzler followed in 1901 with a stream-of-consciousness novella, Lt. Gustl; [Leutnant Gustl] he was among the first writers to employ the technique but was...

(The entire section is 710 words.)

Nigel Cliff (essay date 19 July 1999)

(Short Story Criticism)

SOURCE: Cliff, Nigel. “The Liberation of Dreams.” Times of London (19 July 1999): 18.

[In the following essay, Cliff compares the 1999 film Eyes Wide Shut with Schnitzler's Dream Story, on which the film was based.]

Arthur Schnitzler was certainly a greater libertine than Stanley Kubrick, but Eyes Wide Shut, Kubrick's loose adaptation of Schnitzler's 1926 short novel Traumnovella (Dream Story), is the more sexually explicit of the two works. That, though, says more about Kubrick than Schnitzler, who delighted in stamping on the standards of bourgeois morality.

Born in 1862, Schnitzler was best known...

(The entire section is 407 words.)

John Simon (review date 9 August 1999)

(Short Story Criticism)

SOURCE: Simon, John. “Not with a Bang …” National Review 51, no. 15 (9 August 1999): 54-6.

[In the following review of Eyes Wide Shut, the 1999 film based on Schnitzler's Dream Story, Simon asserts that the film is based on a misinterpretation of the novella.]

If previous ages tended blindly to ignore their geniuses, ours is all too ready to crown as genius the nearest trendy hack. One of the very few masters not fully acknowledged even posthumously is the Viennese playwright-fiction writer Arthur Schnitzler (1862-1931), most of whose many works are poorly, if at all, translated into English.

Hence it may be unsurprising if, for...

(The entire section is 1365 words.)

Peter Bradshaw (review date 22 September 1999)

(Short Story Criticism)

SOURCE: Bradshaw, Peter. “It Looks Like the Eyes Almost Have It.” Manchester Guardian Weekly (22 September 1999): 16.

[In the following positive review of Eyes Wide Shut, the 1999 film based on Schnitzler's Dream Story, Bradshaw asserts that the film is faithful to Schnitzler's story, except that it loses the important element of the characters' Jewish identity.]

Stanley Kubrick's extraordinary last testament, Eyes Wide Shut, has effortlessly attained one of the criteria of a certain type of classic. It is in a genre, if not a league, of its own, this genre being best described as Manhattan porn gothic. It has left critics uneasily aware of the...

(The entire section is 820 words.)

Frederic Raphael (essay date 1999)

(Short Story Criticism)

SOURCE: Raphael, Frederic. Introduction to Dream Story, by Arthur Schnitzler, translated by J. M. Q. Davies, pp. v-xvii. New York: Penguin, 1999.

[In the following essay, Raphael discusses Dream Story in terms of its cultural and historical context in fin-de-siècle Vienna, and comments on the implied Jewish identity of the main character.]

By the time Arthur Schnitzler was born in Vienna in 1862, Franz-Josef had been on the throne of Austria-Hungary for ten years. The emperor did not die until 1916. The dual kingdom survived only two more years before being dismantled by the Treaty of Versailles. Although, when he died in 1931, Schnitzler had survived...

(The entire section is 3798 words.)

Kirkus Reviews (review date 1 November 2001)

(Short Story Criticism)

SOURCE: Review of Night Games and Other Stories and Novellas by Arthur Schnitzler, translated by Margaret Schaefer. Kirkus Reviews (1 November 2001): 1511.

[In the following review, the anonymous reviewer praises Dream Story for its masterful blend of realism and dream.]

One of the most distinctive and compelling voices of the early modernist movement is heard again in this elegant collection of nine urbane, perversely comic, deeply disturbing stories [Night Games and Other Stories and Novellas]. The Austrian Schnitzler (1862-1931), who is perhaps better known for his equally incisive plays (including The Merry-Go-Round and The Green...

(The entire section is 366 words.)

Publishers Weekly (review date 12 November 2001)

(Short Story Criticism)

SOURCE: Review of Night Games and Other Stories and Novellas by Arthur Schnitzler, translated by Margret Schaefer. Publishers Weekly 248, no. 46 (12 November 2001): 35.

[In the following review of Night Games and Other Stories and Novellas, the reviewer commends the volume for its startlingly contemporary stories that address universal themes of sex, love, and death.]

Though set against the backdrop of the fading Hapsburg Empire, Schnitzler's stories [in Night Games and Other Stories and Novellas] are startlingly contemporary in their outlook, and this collection of new translations is sure to win the Austrian author, who died in 1931, new...

(The entire section is 308 words.)

Chris Lehmann (review date 15 January 2002)

(Short Story Criticism)

SOURCE: Lehmann, Chris. “Modern Tales from Old Vienna.” Washington Post Book World (15 January 2002): C3.

[In the following review of Night Games and Other Stories and Novellas, Lehmann maintains that Dream Story addresses concerns still relevant to today's readers.]

Like his fellow Austrian—and his most influential contemporary admirer—Sigmund Freud, Arthur Schnitzler has become something of a quaint period figure, more frequently cited in the service of summoning the zeitgeist of turn-of-the-century Vienna than actually read. The broad outlines of his life story seem, indeed, to beg for such treatment. As he came of sexual age, for example, he...

(The entire section is 1237 words.)

Tobias Grey (review date 15 February 2002)

(Short Story Criticism)

SOURCE: Grey, Tobias. “The New Schnitzler.” Times Literary Supplement, (15 February 2002): 23.

[In the following review of Night Games and Other Stories and Novellas, Grey praises the translation of Dream Story by Margret Schaefer.]

It is hard now to picture the fuss that was made in 1920 when Arthur Schnitzler's libidinous play Reigen (La Ronde) was performed in Berlin for the first time. In an atmosphere of anti-Semitic agitation, riots broke out in the streets denouncing the playwright, and the director and cast were put on trial for obscenity. Schnitzler banned any future production of the play during his lifetime, but its notoriety...

(The entire section is 546 words.)

Peter Gay (review date 24 March 2002)

(Short Story Criticism)

SOURCE: Gay, Peter. “Sex and the Single-Minded.” Los Angeles Times Book Review (24 March 2002): R11.

[In the following review of Night Games and Other Stories and Novellas, Gay discusses the themes of love, sex, and death in the stories, and comments on Stanley Kubrick's adaptation of Dream Story in the 1999 film Eyes Wide Shut.]

Arthur Schnitzler is not nearly so familiar to American readers as he should be, and this has led to starkly differing views of his literary stature. In a brief foreword to Night Games [Night Games and Other Stories and Novellas], John Simon places him “in the vicinity of Proust, Joyce, and Chekhov,” while...

(The entire section is 1037 words.)

Ed Peaco (review date summer 2002)

(Short Story Criticism)

SOURCE: Peaco, Ed. Review of Night Games and Other Stories and Novellas by Arthur Schnitzler, translated by Margret Schaefer. Antioch Review 60, no. 3 (summer 2002): 531.

[In the following review of Night Games and Other Stories and Novellas, Peaco contends that Dream Story is reminiscent of the stories of Franz Kafka.]

Those who read Schnitzler (1862-1931), a Viennese observer of his city's contradictions and decadence, must face the discomfort of learning a great deal about desperate souls. [In Night Games and Other Stories and Novellas a]n adulterous woman leaves the scene of an accident in which her lover dies. A man whose wife has just...

(The entire section is 331 words.)