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A significant part of the literary estate of the Austrian modernist writer, Arthur Schnitzler, is held in Cambridge University Library, having been saved by the intercession of a Cambridge student from probable destruction at the hands of the Nazis in Vienna in 1938. Eighty years later, the UK editorial team for the new digital critical edition, Arthur Schnitzler digital, is pleased to announce its inaugural release.

The project, ‘Arthur Schnitzler digital: A Digital Critical Edition of the Works from 1905 to 1931’, brings together material from Schnitzler’s archive, including manuscripts and typescripts, and makes them available through open access online. The first substantial module to be added by the UK team, Marionetten (1906), Schnitzler’s cycle of one-act dramas on variations of puppetry, includes facsimiles and annotated transcriptions of the archival material, genetic accounts of the compositional history, along with a definitive text and substantial critical commentary.

Taking love, death and human sexuality as frequent themes for exploration, Schnitzler’s works have continued to appeal to contemporary audiences, reworked into plays by David Hare and Tom Stoppard and films such as Stanley Kubrick’s Eyes Wide Shut (1999) based on Schnitzler’s Traumnovelle. Lead editor for Marionetten, Dr Annja Neumann from the Faculty of Modern and Medieval Languages at the University of Cambridge, said: “in its radical questioning of the boundaries between human agency and animated marionettes or machines, Schnitzler’s trio of human puppet-plays connects with the realities of digital and post-human enhancement today. The numerous drafts and versions of the play demonstrate Schnitzler’s deeply self-reflective creative process, providing a rich test case for genetically informed digital editing. At the same time, they occupy a key position in European theatre around 1900. The most substantial play, Zum großen Wurstel (The Grand Guignol), anticipates Bertolt Brecht’s alienation effects and Eugène Ionesco’s theatre of the absurd.”

The UK team, funded by the AHRC, with additional support from the MHRA and the Cambridge Schröder Fund, is editing a number of texts from Schnitzler’s middle period, with Marionetten to be followed by the major dramas, Professor Bernhardi, which explores antisemitism, and Das weite Land (known through Tom Stoppard’s adaptation as Undiscovered Country). The first module for the edition of Schnitzler’s classic experimental novella, Fräulein Else (with several film versions most recently by Anna Martinetz in 2013), edited by project partners from the University of Wuppertal, working on the author’s later works, has also just appeared.

Arthur Schnitzler digital uses innovative transcription software (Transcribo) and other editorial tools developed at the University of Trier to provide a dynamic digital environment for scholars and general readers interested in the fascinating genetic developments of Schnitzler’s narratives and dramas.

Professor Andrew J. Webber, Principal Investigator for the UK project and Co-Director, Cambridge Digital Humanities Research, said: “The edition, to be hosted as an open access resource by the University Library, and supplemented by an exciting range of digital resources, not only promises a wider and deeper understanding of this important writer and his works but also represents a cutting-edge development for the field of digital editing at large.”

Visit the Arthur Schnitzler digital portal.

Read more about the Arthur Schnitzler archive.