"'Der gelernte Österreicher:' Arthur Schnitzler's Ambivalent Posture of Detachment During WWI"

29 Jan 2018

While Arthur Schnitzler has been rightly credited for not joining the enthusiasm at the beginning of the war, this essay will focus on the extreme ambivalence which he expressed towards both the nationalist pro-war discourse and the European pacifist movement. I will argue that Schnitzler maintained what I want to call an ambivalent ‘posture’ (Bourdieu) of detachment, which not only seems to anticipate the self-regulating codes of cool conduct of the interwar years, but also informs his poetics and his understanding of the societal function of his literature. This posture of detachment is expressed in Schnitzler’s scarce public statements and in private correspondence, and in his anthropological analysis of the war. Besides published materials, the article also takes into account some unpublished sources from the Cambridge University Library (CUL) and the Deutsche Literaturarchiv Marbach (DLA), as well as some previously unconsidered publications during the war years.