The Schnitzler collection of Jeffrey B. Berlin

Portrait of Schnitzler in F191.b.1.3

In August 2022 we were privileged to receive seven boxes containing several hundred volumes of works by the famous Austrian author Arthur Schnitzler. The books come from the library of the late Professor Jeffrey B. Berlin and were generously offered as a gift to the University Library by his widow, Anne Berlin. We happily accepted the offer as this comprehensive collection of the printed works of Arthur Schnitzler complements our existing renowned collection of Schnitzler manuscripts.

Professor Berlin, who died in 2021, was a highly respected Germanist with a particular interest in the literature of fin de siècle Vienna. He is best known for the extensive edition of Stefan Zweig’s correspondence (749:37.d.95.126-129) published by S. Fischer 1995-2005. Prof. Berlin also published numerous papers on Arthur Schnitzler and was for many years a member of the editorial team of Modern Austrian Literature, the journal of International Arthur Schnitzler Research Association. He was responsible for the annual Schnitzler bibliography published in this journal which inspired him to assemble his collection of Schnitzler’s published works.

We recently completed the cataloguing of the Berlin collection, and over 400 volumes from the collection can now be found in our catalogue. All records have an entry for Prof. Jeffrey Berlin as the former owner and a note saying that the book is from his library. We now hold most works by Arthur Schnitzler published in his lifetime in first editions and several later editions. We also recorded distinct types of binding as the publisher S. Fischer often issued the same work in different formats. Overall, these many volumes attest to the fruitful relationship between Arthur Schnitzler and his publisher S. Fischer.

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The cataloguing of these donated volumes also includes the recording of other provenance details such as bookplates, inscriptions, etc. Often, we can only record the names and do not know how and why the book was acquired by the owner. However, occasionally we can tie an inscription to a particular event. I was excited to discover among the donation one book with two inscriptions relating to each other. It is the first volume of the collected works of Arthur Schnitzler which the publisher S. Fischer issued on the 50th birthday of the author in 1912 (F191.b.1.3).

The first inscription is by the editors of the periodical Merker: österreichische Zeitschrift für Musik und Theater and says “In  dankbarer Erinnerung an den Schnitzler-Abend des Merker am 13. Mai 1912.” (In grateful memory of the Schnitzler evening of Merker held on May 13, 1912). The second inscription is a dedication to Elsa Galafrés-Hubermann by Arthur Schnitzler. The Schnitzler evening organized by Merker was one of many events marking Arthur Schnitzler’s 50th birthday on May 15, 1912. The evening was a reading of several novellas by Schnitzler introduced by Felix Salten. The novellas were read by Elsa Galafrés-Hubermann, Lily Marberg and Arnold Korff, well-known actors at the time.

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While Arthur Schnitzler did not attend the event as he spent his birthday in Venice, the event is mentioned three times in Arthur Schnitzler’s diary (which has been transcribed and published by the Austrian Academy of Sciences, 747:37.c.95.210-212, 217-223). On May 10 Schnitzler records that Richard Specht and Johannes Schwarz (both editors of the Merker) came to invite him to the Merker evening. On May 24 he wrote of a friend who attended the evening reporting on it to Schnitzler. The diary entry mentions Elsa Galafrés-Hubermann reading the novella Die dreifache Warnung. And finally on June 3 the diary records that Richard Specht came to have volumes dedicated to Korff and Galafrés. I believe that one of these volumes mentioned in the diary must be the copy we now hold and which Elsa Galafrés-Hubermann received as a thank you for her performance on May 13, 1912. To my mind this makes our copy a special one.

The Jeffrey B. Berlin donation also included an unusual item. It is a large portfolio ( of lithographs of the Swiss artist Otto Bachmann inspired by the Schnitzler play Der Reigen. This was produced in 1970 in a limited edition of 140 copies and is a fine example of private press printing. It demonstrates how Schnitzler’s works continue to inspire artists.

Christian Staufenbiel

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