The Schnitzler Press-Cuttings Archive

Schnitzler image From the 1890s until his death in 1931 the Austrian dramatist and novelist Arthur Schnitzler subscribed to press-cutting agencies which supplied him with cuttings concerning his own life and writings. His main supplier was the 'Observer' agency in Vienna, which was founded in 1896. The oldest items in the collection date back to 1891. Following Schnitzler's death his actor/producer son, Heinrich, continued adding to the collection until 1937. Arthur Schnitzler refers to the collection in his testamentary disposition of his literary remains, dated 16 August 1918, stating that it may be consulted five years after his death and opining that it was, 'especially in that part which rejects my work, not without interest as a document of literary or rather cultural history'.

Whilst Schnitzler's autograph manuscripts and original typescripts came to be deposited mainly in Vienna and Cambridge, the press-cuttings archive was donated by Schnitzler's widow to Henry B. Garland, who was Professor of German at the University of Exeter from 1947 until 1972. After Professor Garland's death in 1981, the collection was donated to the University of Exeter Library in December 1982 by his widow, Dr. Mary Garland. The cuttings, numbering some 21,000, were originally stored in custom-made wooden cabinets, but are now kept in 45 box files. In addition to the cuttings the archive contains illustrations, cartoons, photographs, pamphlets and offprints by and about Schnitzler, theatre bills and programmes and realia such as a red ribbon commemorating Schnitzler's fiftieth birthday and knitting patterns for caps and kneewarmers to clothe the troops in the Great War. There are a number of early editions of some of Schnitzler's own publications from journals and newspapers: for example, "Leutnant Gustl", which was published in "Neue Freie Presse" no. 13053 under the title "Lieutenant Gustl" on 25 December 1900.

When the collection was acquired by the Library it was, given the fragility of newsprint, in a delicate physical state. The cuttings were filed in bundles for each of Schnitzler's works, just as they had been arranged during Schnitzler's lifetime. This very crude classification, coupled with the poor physical condition of many of the items and the lack of an index, meant that fruitful research on the Archive was very difficult. With the financial support of the Research Fund of the University of Exeter and the Österreichische Akademie der Wissenschaften a project was initiated to arrange the cuttings in a more helpful order, to film them onto microfiches and to examine the feasibility of producing a database indexing in detail each cutting. Sadly it soon became clear that to produce such a database would require labour beyond the financial means of the project. However, it was possible to rearrange the collection and catalogue the contents to useful effect so that it is now publicly available on 380 microfiches (shelved at 838.9/SCH-21/UNI in the Main Library of Exeter University).

W.E. Yates (1990) states:

"The collection not only brings together what must be the most comprehensive body of evidence on the reception of Schnitzler's work; it is unique in documenting what he himself incontrovertibly knew about that reception". It is in the German-speaking countries that the reception is most copiously documented, though there are articles in languages such as English, Danish, Russian, Italian and French. Many of the cuttings are marked by Schnitzler's own underlinings, sometimes accompanied by terse marginal comments such as `nie' and `falsch'. The sections devoted to "Liebelei" and "Reigen" hold the largest number of cuttings (approximately 1,200 in all) devoted to single works. The world première of "Reigen" in the Kleines Schauspielhaus at Charlottenburg is the subject of 159 items. Amongst the non-newspaper documents is a rare copy of the programme for this performance. Much of the Archive's contents bears witness to the scandal and controversy aroused by the erotic and controversial nature of some of Schnitzler's works.

Two publications that have made extensive use of the Archive are:

Yates, W.E. 1990. `The tendentious reception of Professor Bernhardi: documentation in Schnitzler's collection of press cuttings', Austrian Studies, 1, 108-131

Yates, W.E. 1992. Schnitzler, Hofmannsthal and the Austrian Theatre, New Haven, London: Yale University Press, 1992

Two cuttings from the Collection are available for viewing. Please note - the images are large in size and will take time to load.

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Trevor Learmouth - 9 January 1997