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(12/29/2008) Desire & Delusion: Three Novellas. Chicago. 2003. Ivan R. Dee. Translated from the German by Margaret Schaefer. keywords: Literature Austria Vienna Translated. 264 pages. Jacket Illustration: Edvard Munch,'Train Smoke'.Jacket design by Jorge Colombo. 156663542x.

FROM THE PUBLISHER -

   'These three dark novellas show Schnitzler's master as a guide to the neurotic, death-obsessed world of fin-de-siecle Vienna. American readers should especially appreciate his brilliant 'Fraulein Else' in Margret Schaefer's vibrant new translation.'-ROBERT ALTER. 'Flight into Darkness,' 'Dying,' and 'Fraulein Else,' three of Arthur Schnitzler's greatest novellas, are acknowledged masterpieces of psychological realism. In Margret Schaefer's superb translations, they reveal the depths of Schnitzler's understanding of life as well as the masterful storytelling techniques that immerse the reader in the very center of his characters' thoughts and emotions. Each of the novellas creates a world of experience that becomes our own. In 'Flight into Darkness' we free-fall along with the main character, Robert, into an abyss of paranoid madness. As Ms. Schaefer describes Schnitzler's adept use of interior monologue: 'We feel what it's like to become obsessed by an idea, to rationalize a 'crazy' thought so that it seems incontrovertibly true.' We watch with Robert, through his eyes and thoughts, as he misconstrues every encounter, dissects every nuance for hidden meaning, attempts to decipher the nightmare of his past. Schnitzler's lofty aim in 'Dying,' a searing portrait of a young man who believes he is wasting away, and of his lover's devotion, is to tell the truth about the reality of dying. Focusing on just these two characters, Schnitzler creates a psychological drama filled with both an aching tenderness and a cruel animosity. By narrowing his focus, he explores the details of the ever-changing, momentary, unspoken, and often unacceptable thoughts and feelings that underlie the couple's daily routine. 'Fraulein Else,' one of Schnjtzler's most celebrated works, uses stream of consciousness brilliantly to explore the interior life of a young woman placed in a humiliating position by her family. Schnitzler's Else joins the Molly of Ulysses and the Mrs. Dalloway of Virginia Woolf's novel as one of the most compelling literary portraits of a woman from the inside. Following on her widely acclaimed translation of Schnitzler's stories and novellas in Night Games, Margret Schaefer gives us a remarkable rendering of these masterly novellas.

Arthur Schnitzler (1862-1931), Austrian physician, dramatist, and novelist, was among the most sophisticated writers of his time.

Margret Schaefer, who has taught at the University of California, Berkeley, and the University of Illinois, Chicago, has written on Wilde, von Kleist, and Kafka as well as on the history of psychoanalysis and psychology. She lives in Berkeley, California. 

 

 

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