I saw this in the Pushkin Press stand at the Foyles in London and simply couldn’t resist, such a pretty book. And look what it says on the very last page:
Fräulein Else is the story of a brave girl who is eventually involved in a tragic event. I’d never read anything by Arthur Schnitzler before, I like the story. It’s narrated in stream of consciousness punctuated by dialogues. The story is set in early 20th century, and translating it must have been an exercise in polished language. There are German expressions in it, like, “Küss’ die Hand, gnädige Frau” or “meine Herrschaften”, plus one sappy French expression (I won’t write it down here). Moreover, sentences like “You’re afraid of an indiscretion” (66) “But I’ll leave a letter with a testamentary disposition. Herr von Dorsday shall have the right to… […] And I bequeath to Bertha my black evening dress” (68-69).
There are bars of musical notation in pages that describe scenes where music is played. I got curious about this and looked it up, apparently the music if from Schumann’s Carnaval. A researcher – Cathy Raymond – has written a piece on the elaborate relationship between the music and the plot. She writes:
“Here Schnitzler establishes a direct relationship between the music and Else’s thoughts and actions; the music underscores the superficiality present in Else’s society by masking her true thoughts (her desire for revenge and her confusion) and actions (her intention to disrobe) behind an acceptable representation of her dilemma (Schumann’s Carnaval, with its connections to her story). As the music stops, the mask which cloaks Else’s internal dilemma is removed, and she disrobes, revealing her true thoughts” (1993: 172).
And, the story has been adapted to film twice, this is the trailer of the 2013 production. (It seems to be set in India!)