Arthur Schnitzler (1862-1931), one of the major figures of European modernist
literature, enjoyed domestic and international success during his lifetime and
posthumously, yet the arrival of his dramatic works in Great Britain was plagued by false starts, short runs
and inconsistencies. It was only with Tom Stoppard’s adaptations of Das
weite Land and Liebelei, that Schnitzler’s plays were produced at
the National Theatre ─ Undiscovered Country (1979) and Dalliance (1986).
Nicole Robertson’s enquiry into the whys and wherefores of
that dilatory dissemination unearths and examines evidence of power in
transcultural and translingual migrations. Translations, critical reviews,
correspondence and unpublished drafts from the end of the 19th
century to the present day are analysed, providing a comprehensive overview of
the process of translating from page to stage. By focusing on ‘power’ in its
various guises, the author includes authorial, custodial, linguistic and legal
assertions over the text and, in particular, traces of the control exercised by
the author, his son and their various agents which highlight the multi-layered
authorship discernible in the performed or published word. This examination of Schnitzler's reception in Great Britain presents exhaustive and detailed scholarship on a fascinating, if far from smooth, journey.
Nicole Robertson completed her PhD at University College
London, and now lives in Cambridge, where she teaches German.