Arthur Schnitzler’s “Dream Story”


“And no dream, he sighed quietly, is altogether a dream”

Schnitzler Arthur, Dream Story,p.87

Arthur Schnitzler’s Dream Story is a book I recently read, given to me by one of my friends. First of all I have to admit that I hadn’t heard of the book before, but I have seen Kubrick’s adaptation of the book, the film Eyes Wide Shut. Because of this film and my love for Kubrick in general, my friend told me about the book. I didn’t like the film very much, in comparison to other films by the same director. As for the book, I found it very different in comparison to the film but I was not crazy about it either.

“For however much they might belong to one another heart and soul, they knew last night was not the first time they had  been stirred by a whiff of freedom, danger and adventure.”  Schnitzler Arthur,Dream Story p.3

The story is set in the early 20th century Vienna where we meet a couple, Fridolin and Albertine who appear to live a very satisfying life, almost dream-like until Albertine confesses to Fridolin that women, as well as men, have sexual fantasies. Fridolin even though being a doctor and having knowledge concerning psychology, is shocked because of his wife’s confession and throughout the book the reader experiences the character’s psychological transformations as well as his thoughts that appear to be as far as possible from logical thinking. His wife’s obviously true confession about women having sexual fantasies just as men, makes him feel the need to prove to her that other women are sexually attracted to him.

“He felt helpless and inept, and everything seemed to be slipping from his grasp; everything was becoming increasingly unreal, even his home, his wife, his child, his profession,his very identity, as he trudged on mechanically through the evening streets, turning things over in his mind”

Schnitzler Arthur,Dream Story, p.72

Being in a state where he can’t realise if he is dreaming or being actually awake he feels the need to hurt his wife by taking part in a weird masquerade based on sexual fantasies. At this point I must confess that, in relation to the film, the sexual tension is limited in the book as the emphasis is not put there but in the feelings and thoughts of the protagonist. When it comes to the film, Kubrick used the book only as a basis while trying to create a movie about sexual relations.

“What about when one awoke from dreams,for example?Of course, there one could remember…But there were also surly dreams which one forgot completely, of which nothing remained but some mysterious aura; some obscure bemusement” Schnitzler Arthur, Dream Story,p.73

“Curious how, seduced by words, again and again one labels and condemns people, destinies and streets through sheer idle force of habit”

Schnitzler Arthur, Dream Story,p.73

It is not one of the books I would read again but it was easy to read and quite simple really, so it didn’t bore or tire me.It did put me into thinking concerning relationships, as it depicts how easily a marriage can be ruined even by suspicion or if you chose to see it otherwise, how people keep their relationships just because they don’t want to admit that they are unhappy or unsatisfied, or even worse they choose not to see what is right in front of them just because they fear being alone.

“I think we should be grateful to fate that we’ve emerged safely from these adventures-both from the real ones and from those we dreamed about”

Schnitzler Arthur, Dream Story,p.87

 The edition of the book I read is: Schnitzler, Arthur. Dream Story. Trans. J.M. Q, Davies. Great Britain: Penguin Classics, 2016. Print. Pocket Penguin.


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