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The Dead Are Silent 1907   By: (1862-1931)

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The Dead Are Silent, published in 1907 by Arthur Schnitzler, is a gripping and thought-provoking novel that delves into the internal struggles of its characters in an era that values appearances over truth. Set in Vienna at the turn of the 20th century, the book offers a unique glimpse into the city's bourgeois society, exploring themes of desire, sexuality, and social conventions.

The narrative unfolds through the eyes of its protagonists, Dr. Georg von Wergenthin and his wife Henriette. Driven by their own desires, they embark on separate journeys that lead them to confront their repressed longings, ultimately causing emotional distress and confusion. Schnitzler skillfully portrays the deeply layered complexities of human relationships and the inevitable consequences of suppressing one's true desires.

The author's keen observation and analysis of human psychology is evident throughout the book. As the characters navigate through Vienna's social circles, Schnitzler unveils a society bound by rigid rules and conventions. He employs rich symbolism and evocative language to convey the uneasiness lurking beneath the surface of seemingly perfect lives. The Dead Are Silent serves as a social critique, questioning the morality and authenticity of the society it depicts.

One of the book's strengths is Schnitzler's ability to create vivid and relatable characters. Dr. Georg's inner turmoil and struggle to reconcile his desires with societal expectations are masterfully portrayed, giving readers an intimate glimpse into the human psyche. Henriette, too, undergoes a transformation, challenging the role of women in society and defying the traditional expectations placed upon her.

The Dead Are Silent beautifully captures the ambiance and spirit of fin-de-si├Ęcle Vienna. Schnitzler's vivid descriptions transport the reader to a world of opulence, decadence, and hidden desires. The author's prose is elegant and sophisticated, capturing both the nuances of the characters' thoughts and the essence of their interactions.

At times, the novel can be dense and introspective, requiring the reader's full attention to grasp the intricacies of the characters' inner conflicts. However, this narrative style effectively reflects the complex and layered nature of human emotions, making it a rewarding read for those who appreciate psychological depth.

While written over a century ago, the themes explored in The Dead Are Silent remain relevant in contemporary society. Schnitzler offers a timeless exploration of the human condition, challenging societal norms and exposing the consequences of denying one's true desires. The novel's conclusion leaves the reader contemplating the nature of personal freedom and the sacrifices we make to conform.

In conclusion, The Dead Are Silent is an intellectual and introspective novel that showcases the mastery of Arthur Schnitzler's storytelling. Through his skillful portrayal of characters and their struggles within a repressive society, Schnitzler challenges readers to confront their own desires and question the societal expectations that confine them.

First Page:


By Arthur Schnitzler

Copyright, 1907, by Courtland H. Young

HE could endure the quiet waiting in the carriage no longer; it was easier to get out and walk up and down. It was now dark; the few scattered lamps in the narrow side street quivered uneasily in the wind. The rain had stopped, the sidewalks were almost dry, but the rough paved roadway was still moist, and little pools gleamed here and there.

"Strange, isn't it?" thought Franz. "Here we are scarcely a hundred paces from the Prater, and yet it might be a street in some little country town. Well, it's safe enough, at any rate. She won't meet any of the friends she dreads so much here."

He looked at his watch. "Only just seven, and so dark already! It is an early autumn this year... and then this confounded storm I..." He turned his coat collar up about his neck and quickened his pacing. The glass in the street lamps rattled lightly.

"Half an hour more," he said to himself, "then I can go home. I could almost wish that that half hour were over." He stood for a moment on the corner, where he could command a view of both streets. "She'll surely come to day," his thoughts ran on, while he struggled with his hat, which threatened to blow away. "It's Friday.... Faculty meeting at the University; she needn't hurry home... Continue reading book >>

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