'Fräulein Else' was written by the Austrian author Arthur Schnitzler (1862 - 1931) in 1924. The protagonist is a nineteen-year-old woman from the well-to-do Viennese bourgeoisie who is holidaying with her aunt at a fashionable spa in San Martino di Castrozza in the Dolomites. Her days are spent in an insouciant, listless but slightly restless atmosphere, until a telegram arrives from her mother informing her that her father, a lawyer, is in financial straits. The mother is aware of the presence at the spa of Mr. Von Dorsday, a prosperous art dealer who once saved the father from financial ruin. She asks Else to approach the gentleman and urge him to help her father out of difficulty once more. Von Dorsday agrees, on condition that he can see Else naked…
Written as a monologue intérieur, this novella is an uninterrupted stream of ideas, emotions, observations and memories. We experience Else’s whimsicality at first hand, we view the people she encounters from her standpoint and we are with her as her mind wrestles with the events that befall her. As an important representative of psychoanalytical thinking – he was a personal friend of Sigmund Freud – Schnitzler always took great pains to portray the inner world of his characters as accurately as possible. In 'Fräulein Else' he capitalizes on this stream of consciousness technique to achieve his goal. With discernment and elegance, he succeeds in presenting an Else who is frivolous and sensual, headstrong, spoilt, fickle and egocentric, but who is also an intellectually and emotionally isolated young woman who has to discover her sexuality for herself and, with little outside help, define her place in a world of stifling social convention and moral narrow-mindedness.
Tg STAN – Mademoiselle Else
Teatro Sao Luiz, Alkantara Festival, Lisbon (PT)