Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Arthur Schnitzler - Traumnovelle (Dream Novel)


I really have to hurry up, because in reading I'm still 2 books ahead of my reviews. So, after 'Rouge et Noir' I decided to read Arthur Schnitzler's 'Traumnovelle', which b.t.w. formed also the basis for Stanley Kubrick's as 'Eyes wide shut'. I guess I read the book because of the movie, but after reading the book I must confess that I really like the book much more. So, basically it's about that couple living in Vienna. The time is about at the beginning of the 20th century. He's a physician and the novel starts when the two are about to visit a ball (same as in the movie). Home again, she tells him about her dream and an incident that happened during their last holidays. There was a stranger and she was very attracted to him...and if he (the stranger) had said only one word, she would have followed him no mater of the consequences (but of course this didn't happen). He (the physician), somehow, is really shocked by this revelation. Then, in the night, he is called into the house of a dying patient, but as he arrives, the patient has already passed away. When leaving the patient's house again, the daughter of the dead (with tears in her eyes, her fiancé waiting for her in the other room) tells him that she loves him. Very moved, he's running through the streets of Vienna, doesn't want to go home, still thinking of some kind of 'revenge' for the 'imaginary deed' of his wife. He follows a prostitute to her home but leaves her place already before coming to business. In a bar, he meets an old friend who is playing the piano. The friend tells him that he is invited to play piano at some secret (private) party, and that people there are celebrating some kind of secretive and 'orgiastic' carnival. He persuades his friend to play some trick to get him into that party, but to get in he is in need for a mask to disguise his identity. In the middle of the night, he goes to rent a mask at a shop (again another story telling about the shop keeper selling his daughter as a prostitute...). Nevertheless wearing the mask he succeeds in getting into the party, but a strange (attractive and almost nude) woman realizes his presence there and that he is not supposed to be at this place. She warns him, but he does not care. Other people realize that he is a stranger and he is asked for the password that he can't provide. He is supposed to be punished, but the strange woman takes his place and therefore also the punishment for him. The next day, when he got home, he reads about some strange killing of a noble woman taking place in a hotel that very night, and he decides to find out, whether this killing and the 'punishment' of the last night might be connected to each other.....
I won't tell you how it ends - anyway, if you have seen 'Eyes wide shut' for sure you will know. But....it was really some experience to read it and I have enjoyed it very much. Schnitzler leaves many things to your own imagination...and Kubrick for sure invested a lot of it to setting it into scene. But, as for any movie that is based on literature, the movie just shows a special reading of the book with special emphasis on things that the director regarded as being important. Kubrick did some great job....but sorry, I don't like Tom Cruise as an actor (the only movie where I really liked his performace was 'Magnolia'...but the performance of Philip Seymour Hoffman was much more impressive...). Thus, reading the book opens up new possibilities, new ways on how your imagination might put some light into the strange story. I can highly recommend it (and it's rather short..you can make it in just one day).

P.S. you might find some other works of Arthur Schnitzler at Project Gutenberg

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