Arthur Schnitzler

Portrait: Arthur Schnitzler
Portrait photograph of Arthur Schnitzler, photograph: Ferdinand Schmutzer, circa 1912
Kienberg-Karli / Wikimedia Commons

Arthur Schnitzler

Author of a self-censored erotic scandal piece

What a game is this mendacity. Politics. Insincere foes and friends alike. – alone, alone, alone.

Arthur Schnitzler, Diary, 10 February 1921

With his stage piece Reigen, completed in 1997 and first published in 1903, the renowned Viennese doctor and writer Arthur Schnitzler provoked a literary scandal, which assumed tumultuously large proportions in particular after its first public performances in Germany and Austria in 1920/21. The sequence of ten scenes of erotic rendezvous, which build up a portrait of Austrian society based on the motif of sex, was in due course the object not only of several bans, but also a widely followed court case. Schnitzler, who on this occasion saw himself subject to extreme hostility, forbade any further productions from then on in his lifetime.

 In a time in which his fellow countryman Sigmund Freud scientifically confronted society with its own taboos and psychological neuroses for the first time, the author of works such as Leutnant Gustl (None but the Brave, 1900) and Traumnovelle (Rhapsody: A Dream Novel, 1926) gave them literary form. Due to his sceptical attitude towards the War, the resonance of his work clearly receded at the beginning of the World War One. In 1927 the Austrian broadcasting corporation RAVAG imposed a radio ban on the writer following to a royalties claim.