Monday, January 17, 2011

Arthur Schnitzler: Traumnovelle (a novella)

Dream Story. Originally published as a serial in seven issues of the ladies' journal Die Dame (Berlin) in 1925-1926. As a book by S. Fischer, 1926. Read in the 9. Edition, Frankfurt am Main: S. Fischer Verlag GmbH, 1999

Inspired by revisiting Eyes Wide Shut I read again also Arthur Schnitzler's novella to which the film is remarkably faithful. Especially the final exchange between the doctor and his wife is taken directly from Schnitzler: "So gewiss, als ihn ahne, dass die Wirklichkeit einer Nacht, ja dass nicht einmal die eines ganzen Menschenlebens zugleich auch seine innerste Wahrheit bedeutet." "Und kein Traum", seufzte er leise, "ist völlig Traum".

Important changes include: in the film, the wife is a professional with an independent career. In the book, she is a housewife who has had to marry early.

The book takes place in contemporary Vienna, the film in contemporary New York.

The book takes place during Fasching, the carnival time in late February, also a time of early signs of spring, with masked balls, devil masks, and playing with paganity. The film takes place during the week before Christmas.

In the book the masked sex ball has a Christian religious theme, the participants dressed as monks and nuns (Vienna of course is a Catholic city), and old Italian spiritual music is played (mixed gradually with secular music). In the film the masquerade is conducted as devil worship. Jocelyn Pook's "Masked Ball" "incorporates a fragment of an Orthodox Liturgy played backwards and lyrics sung (or chanted) in Romanian" (English Wikipedia).

The names have been changed, but the name of the pianist Nachtigall has been translated directly into Nightingale.

In the book the doctor and the pianist Nachtigall are Jews who have to endure anti-semitism. In the film they aren't: that was Kubrick's express wish to screenwriter Frederic Raphael. Kubrick wanted the doctor to become a Harrison Ford type, and indeed, the doctor was named Harford! The doctor now has to endure a homophobic insult instead of an anti-semitic one.

There is a hint in the book that also the women in the sex party belong to high society. The woman who warns the doctor and dies the day afterwards is called Baroness Dubieski, although it's a pseudonym. (It is not absolutely certain that she is the woman the doctor meets at the masked ball.) In the film the women are de luxe callgirls.

In the book, Dubiesky commits suicide by overdosing on morphine. In the film, the drug addict Mandy dies from an overdose. About both we can deduce that they finance their expensive addiction by highly paid services.

There is no counterpart in the book to the figure of Ziegler (Sydney Pollack). In the book we don't know Marianne's family name. In the film she is Marion Nathanson.

Arthur Schnitzler, himself, was a doctor who kept a dream diary all his life. Ten volumes of his diaries have been published. The scene chez Marianne / Marion is an account of classical transference: her father has died, and she declares her love to the doctor, who substitutes the father in her psyche. These secrets of the soul may seem incredible to those who have not experienced them personally.

In the movie the streetwalker Domino is diagnosed HIV positive. In the book Mizzi has been taken to a hospital for a long time treatment when the doctor would like to present her wine and flowers. (In both the book and the movie the encounters have been platonic).

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