Outreach activities 2015-16

Public presentation of project 2015-16

Public presentation of project 2014

For the 100th Anniversary of the Birth of Eric A. Blackall

TraumLand: an Expedition in the Undiscovered Country


Theatre Performance of Arthur Schnitzler's Professor Bernhardi by [Foreign Affairs] will come to Cambridge

28 -29 October 2016, 6pm-8.30pm, Anatomy Lecture Theatre, Downing Site, Downing Street, CB2 3DY

The performance is organised in collaboration with the Department of Physiology, Development and Neuroscience at University of Cambridge and will be part of the Festival of Ideas. A pre-show talk by clinical anatomist Dr Cecilia Brassett and literary scholar Dr Annja Neumann will set in dialogue Cambridge’s anatomy teaching programme with Schnitzler’s anatomy lesson. For further details please see Festival of Ideas website. Tickets can be booked here.


Outreach activities 2015-16

Crowdsourcing Workshop

20 January 2015, 11am-2pm, a digital methods workshop in collaboration with the Cambridge Digital Humanities Network (CRASSH) and a talk by Tim Causer (Transcribe Bentham, University College London)

 News from the archive: Discovery by Team UK

Two handwritten drafts of key scene of Traumnovelle in Das weite Land discovered:

TraumLand: an Expedition in the Undiscovered Country

The Guardian reports: http://www.theguardian.com/books/2015/jun/24/alternative-ending-discovered-to-book-behind-eyes-wide-shut (26/06/2015)

 Transcribing Schnitzler: A Transcription Initiative

19.10-16.11.2015, open to the public, register here: schnitzlerweb.mml.cam.ac.u

 Symposium: '"Dying Well": Enacting Medical Ethics'

25-26 September 2015, 10am-5pm, Barts Pathology Museum, London

For further details and how to register please see: http://www.foreignaffairs.org.uk/2015/08/dying-well-enacting-medical-ethics/

A podcast and digital archive of the symposium is available here: http://backdoorbroadcasting.net/2015/09/dying-well-enacting-medical-ethics/

Theatre Performance of Arthur Schnitzler's Professor Bernhardi by [Foreign Affairs]

23 -25 September 2015, 6pm, Barts Pathology Museum, London

For further details and how to book tickets please see: http://www.foreignaffairs.org.uk/productions/professor-bernhardi/ 


Public presentation of project 2015-16

A celebration of the Arthur Schnitzler Archive remaining at Cambridge University Library, Manuscript Reading Room, 4 March 2016


Pictured: Professor Graham Virgo, Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Education, Professor of English Private Law in the Faculty of Law and Chair of the Library Syndicate (left), and Michael Schnitzler, grandson of Arthur Schnitzler (right).

For more information please see Cambridge University Library's website.

Inaugural lecture by Prof Andrew J. Webber (Auerbach Visiting Professor in winter term 2015/2016)

"Undiscovered Country: Travels with Schnitzler"

10 December 2015, 6pm (CET), Room 306 (Neuphilologicum), Wilhelmstraße 50, University of Tübingen

Digital Editing Now. International Conference, University of Cambridge

7-9 January 2016, CRASSH (SG1&2), Alison Richards Building, 7 West Road, Cambridge, CB3 9DT

For further details and registration please see: http://www.crassh.cam.ac.uk/events/26264/ 

A conference report is available here: http://www.crassh.cam.ac.uk/blog/post/conference-report-digital-editing-now 


Matt Katzenberger (on Flickr)

Public presentation of project 2014

Project presentation of the Nordrhein-Westfälischen Akademie der Wissenschaften und der Künste

from 4 to 5 June 2014 at state parliament in Düsseldorf

Information column

Colloquium of the Alfried Krupp Wissenschaftskolleg Greifswald

„Verzettelt, verschoben, verworfen. Textgenese und Edition moderner Literatur“

from 19 to 21 June 2014 in Greifswald


"Text(ge)schichten: Herausforderungen textgenetischen Edierens bei Arthur Schnitzler" (Wolfgang Lukas/Vivien Friedrich)


Digital Humanities Conference 2014

from 8 to 12 July 2014 in Lausanne (Switzerland)

Poster presentation (10 July, 4-5 pm (CEST), Amphipôle Building, UNIL):

“Transcribo: A Graphical Editor for Transcribing and Annotating Textual Witnesses. Preparing a Critical Edition of Arthur Schnitzler’s Works” (Frank Queens/Vivien Friedrich)


Anniversary show by [Foreign Affairs] including a preview of Professor Bernhardi

on 23 August 2014 at Bethnal Green Working Men's Club, 8pm, London

Bernhardi-Priest Scene, Act 4


Workshop "Digitale genetische Editionen (in der Praxis)"

from 4. to 5. September 2014 at Swiss Literary Archives in Bern

Presentation (5. September 2014, 10:15-11 am (CEST))

"Arthur Schnitzler" (Wolfgang Lukas/Vivien Friedrich)

Tag des offenen Denkmals (Open Monument Day)

on 14. September 2014 at "Akademie der Wissenschaften und der Künste" in Düsseldorf

Information column (11 am - 5 pm (CEST))

philtag 12

from 18. to 19. September 2014 in Würzburg

Presentation (18. September 2014, 13:45-14:30 pm (CEST))

"Computergestützte Kollationierung für die digitale historisch-kritische Edition der Werke Arthur Schnitzlers: Heuristiken - Algorithmen – Tools" (Joshgun Sirajzade)


"Redaktionssysteme und virtuelle Forschungsumgebungen"

from 20. to 21. October 2014 at "Bayerische Akademie der Wissenschaften" in München

Presentation (Frank Queens/Vivien Friedrich)

21. Jahrestagung der ITUG

from 1. to 3. October 2014 in Amsterdam


"Computergestützte Kollationierung für die digitale historisch-kritische Edition der Werke Arthur Schnitzlers: Heuristiken - Algorithmen – Tools" (Joshgun Sirajzade)



on 25 November 2014 at the Ruhr-Universität Bochum

Presentation (08:30-10:00am) in the seminar "Editionsphilologie", taught by Prof Klaus-Peter Wegera

"Presentation of the project 'Arthur Schnitzler digital'" (Kathrin Nühlen/Jonas Wolf)

For the 100th Anniversary of the Birth of Eric A. Blackall

Anybody dealing with the literary estate of Arthur Schnitzler will sooner or later come across the name Eric A. Blackall, which is inextricably bound up with it. The story that lies behind this is as unusual as it is intriguing. After Schnitzler’s death on 21 October 1931, his literary estate – estimated to extend to over 60,000 pages, and consisting for the most part of literary manuscripts, letters, diary notes and a considerable collection of newspaper cuttings regarding Schnitzler and his works – remained in his house at 71 Sternwartestrasse in Vienna, in the care of his divorced wife Olga and son Heinrich. With the incorporation of Austria into the German Reich through the Anschluss in March 1938, the systematic persecution of the Jewish population and the destruction or confiscation of their property was extended to Vienna, and the Schnitzler family also felt the effects of this. Heinrich Schnitzler was already abroad on business at this time and avoided returning to Vienna, and Olga Schnitzler found herself alone in the face of the palpable threat, with a need to act swiftly. How she came to turn for help to the then just 23-year-old Briton Eric A. Blackall remains something of a mystery.

Blackall, who was born in London on 19 October 1914, had been in Vienna since the winter term of 1936-7, in order to work for his doctorate with the Viennese Professor of German, Josef Nadler (later a controversial figure owing to his membership of the NSDAP and his support of the Anschluss). Blackall’s subject – Adalbert Stifter – was chosen because he felt the writer had been under-estimated. The highly talented young German scholar, who had completed his undergraduate studies at the University of Cambridge, by all accounts already had an excellent command of German at that point und enjoyed a socially and culturally active existence in Vienna. It seems likely that it was this that led Olga Schnitzler to learn of him and enter into contact.

Eric A. Blackall must have offered his help immediately, and he wasted no time in taking action. On the assumption that Schnitzler’s literary estate would be safe in England, he sent a letter to Cambridge University Library in March 1938, enquiring whether it would be prepared to accept the papers as a gift, and received prompt confirmation by telegram. Blackall then signed a ‘declaration of the acquisition of the written estate of Arthur Schnitzler by Cambridge University Library’ (this document is today held by the German Literary Archive in Marbach). The declaration was certified by the British Consul in Vienna, who immediately had Schnitzler’s study, where the papers were located, put under diplomatic seal. The house was already under surveillance at this point, and the Gestapo paid a visit, but did not enter. Olga Schnitzler subsequently left the country, which was only possible because Blackall bribed a member of the Gestapo into overlooking the ‘J’ in her passport. He waited until she was in safety before devoting himself to packing and shipping the papers, which reached England on 23 May 1938. Shortly afterwards, Blackall passed his viva, for which he had in the meantime prepared in Schnitzler’s library, and left Vienna on the same day. Schnitzler’s papers survived the Second World War unscathed in Cambridge, where the larger part of them has remained until today.

Eric A. Blackalll first worked until 1939 as a Lector in English at the University of Basel, then returned to Cambridge as a Lecturer in German, before emigrating to the USA in 1958. He worked until his retirement as Professor of German Literature at Cornell in Ithaca NY, where he died on 16 November 1989. His abiding research interest was the German literature of the 18th and early 19th centuries, in particular the ‘Emergence of German as a Literary Language (1770-1775)’, thus the title of his second monograph, published in 1959, following his dissertation on ‘Adalbert Stifters Persönlichkeitsideal’ (‘Adalbert Stifter’s Ideal of Personality’, published as Adalbert Stifter: A Critical Study in 1948). Thus it was that Blackall – in spite of being so close to the source of the remarkably rich and exciting literary estate of one of the most significant writers of Classic Modernism – never undertook research on Schnitzler, even as he remained friends with the Schnitzler family during the years after the rescuing of the papers and would doubtless have had many opportunities to participate in editions or similar projects. Neither did he ever give a written account of the saving of the papers, or broach the matter in his personal encounters. According to those who were close to him, modesty and the understandable wish to be recognised and appreciated above all for his literary critical work are the reasons for this reserve. From our perspective today, it is of course a shame that we do not have a firsthand account of the dangerous undertaking. However, there is something touchingly sympathetic in the idea of a young scholar who did not hestitate to take great risk upon himself in acting to ensure the survival of individuals and the preservation of a cultural treasure, without seeking to gain the least personal benefit. The authencity of this impression is once again confirmed by those who knew him. It was not least for this outstanding and unselfish engagement that Eric A. Blackall was the deserving recipient in 1973 of the Austrian Cross of Honour for Science and Art, First Class, and in 1985 of the Cross of Merit, First Class, of the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany. Schnitzler scholars, and not least those working on this project, are greatly in his debt.

Vivien Friedrich / Translation: Andrew Webber

With special thanks to Professor Jean Frantz Blackall and Professor Hartmut Steinecke for sharing with me their personal memories of Eric A. Blackall and concerning the circumstances of the rescue of the papers.


Further Sources:

Abrams, Meyer H.: Eric Albert Blackall (October 19, 1914-November 16, 1989). In: Proceedings of the American Philosophical Society 135, No. 2 (1991), 299-306.

Bellettini, Lorenzo/ Staufenbiel, Christian: The Schnitzler Nachlass: Saved by a Cambridge Student. In: Bellettini, Lorenzo/ Hutchinson, Peter (eds): Schnitzler's Hidden Manuscripts. Oxford 2010, pp. 11-22.

Deinert, Herbert/ Flood, John L.: Blackall, Eric A. In: Internationales Germanistenlexikon 1800-1950. Band 1 (A-G) ed. Christoph König. Berlin 2003, pp. 196-197.

Müller, Jutta/ Neumann, Gerhard: Gestalt und Geschichte des Nachlasses. Einleitende Bemerkungen. In: J. Müller and G. Neumann (eds): Der Nachlass Arthur Schnitzlers: Verzeichnis des im Schnitzler-Archiv der Universität Freiburg i. Br. befindlichen Materials. Mit einem Vorwort von Gerhart Baumann und einem Anhang von Heinrich Schnitzler: Verzeichnis des in Wien vorhandenen Nachlaßmaterials. München 1969.

Schinnerer, Otto P.: Arthur Schnitzler’s “Nachlasz”; In: The Germanic Review. Vol. VIII (1933), 114-123.

Schnitzler, Heinrich: Der Nachlass meines Vaters; In: Aufbau (New York), 9.11.1951, 9-10.

Schnitzler, Heinrich: “Ich bin kein Dichter, ich bin Naturforscher”. Der Nachlaß meines Vaters. Die neue Zeitung (München), 247, 20./21.10.1951, 9-10.

After the paper was published: Hemecker, Wilhelm/ Österle, David: '... so grundfalsch war alles Weitere.' Zur Geschichte des Nachlasses von Arthur Schnitzler. In: Barner, Wilfried (u.a.): Jahrbuch der Deutschen Schillergesellschaft. Internationales Organ für Neuere Deutsche Literatur. 58. Jg. 2014, S. 3-40.


TraumLand: an Expedition in the Undiscovered Country

Two archival discoveries of Traumnovelle in the play Das weite Land

By Marie Kolkenbrock, Annja Neumann and Andrew Webber

This archival find involves two works that are familiar to English-speaking audiences through stage and film versions: the play Das weite Land (1911), adapted by Tom Stoppard as Undiscovered Country (1980) and the prose piece Traumnovelle (1926), which was the basis for Stanley Kubrick’s last film, Eyes Wide Shut (1999). It was known that the plans for Traumnovelle (usually translated as Dream Story) go back to 1907. But the work being conducted by the team of scholars producing a digital critical edition of works from Schnitzler’s middle period has now revealed for the first time that the central scenario of the story was developed extensively in 1908 within the framework of Schnitzler’s drafts for Das weite Land. What the works have in common is a key theme of Schnitzler’s writing more generally, that of sexual fidelity and infidelity in marriage and other relationships. This took its classic form in the early drama, Reigen (Round Dance/La Ronde) and was replayed in many of his most important works. While Das weite Land explores this theme through the framework of a social drama in the style of Ibsen, Traumnovelle, as the title suggests, operates in uncertain territory between the waking life of social reality and the domain of dream and fantasy. A focal scene of Traumnovelle, and also of its film version in Eyes Wide Shut, is an orgiastic masked ball, where the male protagonist – a doctor – is introduced to the cult-like activities of a mysterious secret society. His adventures then form part of the confession he makes to his wife when he returns to the marital bed, and this unmasking at the end of the narrative appears to restore them to conjugal life. The doctor’s confession is the counterpart to his wife’s revelations earlier in the text of sexual temptations and fantasies. Das weite Land is much less explicit about the sexual adventures and misadventures of its characters, with much of the libidinal charge of the text projected onto the symbolism of climbing and falling. However, in the draft version, Dr Aigner, a promiscuous director of a hotel in the Dolomites (the scene for Act 3), who is said to have fathered children in every Tyrolean village, narrates a story that will become the central scenario of Traumnovelle.

The scenario appears in the drafts in two versions. The first one, which is just about three manuscript pages long, gives a quite condensed rendering of the story, whereas the longer second one fleshes out the plot in more detail.

In both versions, the story serves as an illustration for a discussion about love and (in)fidelity, which would later be reduced to a rather abstract contemplation on the ambivalent human condition in the published version. In this way, Aigner’s experience can be understood as yet another example for the leitmotif of the play: "Die Seele ist ein weites Land" – "The soul is a wide domain" – or “undiscovered country”. Aigner, like his counterpart, the doctor in Traumnovelle, has a nocturnal encounter with a former fellow student with the idiomatic name ‘Nachtigall’ (Nightingale), a piano player, who leads him to the ball, where he, too, has a seductive encounter with a stranger. However, the setting for this analogue episode is of a more extreme quality, featuring the two arguably most prominent motifs in Schnitzler’s work: love and death. Aigner sets out on his nocturnal adventure in the belief that his apparently terminally ill wife will not survive the night, which renders the ethical evaluation of the topic of infidelity more dramatic and ambiguous. Moreover, what puts the story in an entirely new light, is the more radical ending: unlike marital partners in Traumnovelle, Aigner and his wife are not able to integrate this experience into their relationship. While in the longer version the moment of mutual understanding and acceptance, which made Traumnovelle such an exceptional piece in Schnitzler’s oeuvre, is still palpable, the shorter version does not leave any room for reconciliation, as the wife throws her husband out. In other words, Kubrick’s already quite ambivalent happy end would have turned out differently, had he been inspired by this draft version: Nicole Kidmann would have made another kind of suggestion altogether to Tom Cruise.