Sunday, January 10, 2016

Late Fame, by Arthur Schnitzler

Staff review by Chris Saliba

A gently comic novella about the impetuosity of youth and the humble pleasures of old age. 

Herr Eduard Saxberger is an elderly German civil servant. In his youth he had enjoyed some fame for his slim volume of poems the Wanderings, but that is all behind him now. Imagine his surprise when one evening he arrives home to find a youthful literary admirer. Wolfgang Meier is the leader of a Viennese literary clique called the “Enthusiam” society. He has recently discovered the long forgotten the Wanderings. In a fervour of adulation, Meier and his society of impetuous young writers decide to adopt Saxberger as one of their own. At first the old civil servant is charmed, but soon the novelty loses its sparkle. In a series of comic misunderstandings, it becomes increasingly clear that the young writers and the old poet are not on the same page. They don't really understand each other at all and much of their friendship has been a comedy of errors.

Arthur Schnitzler (1862-1931) wrote this beautifully controlled novella in the mid 1890s. Some 120 years later it is now published for the first time. With elegance and simplicity, he has written a gently comic story that shows how time eventually erodes our youthful illusions, giving way to the more prosaic yet dependable pleasures of age.

Late Fame, by Arthur Schnitzler. Published by Pushkin Press. ISBN: 9781782271321  RRP: $26.99

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