LORENZO BELLETTINI Introduction 1
LORENZO BELLETTINI Introduction “Act immediately please”. The letter containing this urgent appeal, addressed to the Librarian at Cambridge University, came from a far-away place, had an unknown author, and contained an unusual request. A later missive added that by acting decisively Cambridge would be able to “claim the fame of having res- cued him from oblivion”. This was the beginning of an adventurous operation to save one of the most important literary legacies in Europe. The protagonists were a student, a widow on her way to America, a librarian, and a diplomat. The object was, of course, the private archive of Arthur Schnitzler (1862– 1931), the Viennese writer among whose intense and often problem-ridden friendships were Theodor Herzl, Stefan Zweig, Thomas Mann and many others, whose personal letters to Schnitzler are to be found in his vast archive. Although Schnitzler is still relatively unknown in the English-speaking world today, his work has inspired leading creative artists of our time, from the play- wrights Tom Stoppard (Dalliance, The Undiscovered Country) and David Hare (The Blue Room) to the director Stanley Kubrick, whose last film, Eyes Wide Shut, was based on Schnitzler’s fictional narrative Traumnovelle. Schnitzler’s legacy encompasses over 40,000 pages of diaries, literary drafts and letters of fering a vast portrait of one of the most fascinating and dramatic epochs in our history. It is almost a miracle that it still exists today. When in 1933 the Nazis came to power in Germany, the works of Jewish authors were denounced...
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