Lieutenant Gustl

Arthur Schnitzler, Author, Richard L. Simon, Translator Sun and Moon Press $9.95 (72p) ISBN 978-1-55713-176-8
Viennese author Schnitzler's brief 1901 novel depicts the Austrian crisis at the turn of the century and the impending collapse of the dream of the empire. Bored at the opera, egocentric young Lieutenant Gustl contemplates which women are flirting with him; the fact that there are too many Jews in the army, which is the reason for ``all this anti-Semitism''; and an upcoming duel with a doctor who made an unflattering remark about the military. After the concert, impatient in the coat check queue, Gustl gets into a quarrel with a baker who threatens to break Gustl's sword in two if he doesn't calm down. Convinced he's been dishonored, Gustl decides he must commit suicide and spends the night walking the streets, weighing the repercussions of killing himself. When he arrives at his favorite cafe for a final breakfast, he becomes elated on learning that he can go on living because the baker died of a stroke just after their encounter. This novel is an early embodiment of modern skepticism and despair. And written in interior monologue, it demonstrates a Freudian influence. The historical and literary impact of this work remains its strong point, making it more interesting to think about than to read. (Dec.)
Reviewed on: 05/01/2000
Release date: 05/01/2000
Genre: Fiction
Paperback - 56 pages - 978-1-931243-46-9
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