by Arthur Schnitzler, translation from the German by Alexander Starritt, afterword by Wilhelm Hemecker and David Österle
An NYRB Classics Original
Eduard Saxberger is a quiet man who is getting on in years and has spent the better part of them working at a desk in an office. Once upon a time, however, he published a book of poetry, Wanderings, and one day when he returns from his usual walk he finds a young man waiting for him. “Are you,” he wants to know, “Saxberger the poet?
Is Saxberger Saxberger the poet? Was he ever a poet? A real poet? Saxberger hasn’t written a poem for years, but he begins to frequent the coffee shops of Vienna with his young admirer and his no less admiring circle of friends, and as he does he begins to yearn for a different life from the daily round followed by rounds of drinks and billiards with familiar buddies like Grossinger, the deli owner. And the ardent attentions of Fräulein Gasteiner, the tragedienne, are not entirely unwelcome.
The Hope of Young Vienna is how the young artists style themselves, and they are arranging an event that will introduce them to the world. They insist that the distinguished author of Wanderings take part in it as well. Will he write something new for the occasion? Will he at last receive his due?
Late Fame, an unpublished novella recently rediscovered in the papers of the great turn-of-the-century Austrian playwright and novelist Arthur Schnitzler, is a bittersweet parable of hope lost and found.
Late Fame does surprise. It is ironic and restrained. . . . The narrative is astute on the bravado, politics and longing which compel literary dreamers at the mercy of their tentative aspirations.
—Eileen Battersby, The Irish Times
Completed over a century ago but unpublished until now, Schnitzler’s droll, engrossing short novel of artists in 1890s Vienna tempers its satire with keen insight….Readers are fortunate to have this late publication.
[An] elegant comedy edged with tragedy.
Schnitzler is worth revisiting because of his wit, his insight into men and women, and his grasp of the way sex, love, and hate intersect.
As a writer, Schnitzler has two somewhat contradictory principal gifts: he is very methodical, and he loves to surprise...couched in terse, powerful sentences.
—Michael Hofmann, The New York Times
[Schnitzler] had an uncanny ear for dialogue, a gratifying wit, a talent for spinning out tales of adultery in almost infinite variations, a keen psychological eye even if it did not match that of Freud.
—Peter Gay, The New York Times