by Arthur Schnitzler
In an English version
by Tom Stoppard
In a codicil to his will, the Austrian man of letters Arthur Schnitzler instructed that a needle be thrust through his heart to remove any doubt of his death. As a novelist, short-story writer and playwright, best known for La Ronde, he had already probed the heart of the Viennese haute bourgeoisie with the lethal needle of wit, irony and skepticism, and pronounced it irrevocably dead.
The Vienna of his day (1862-1931) was phosphorescent in decay: Schnitzler's contemporaries numbered Sigmund Freud, Gustav Klimt, Arnold Schoenberg, Gustav Mahler and Adolf Hitler. Schnitzler...