This book treats the renowned Austrian author and artist -- as thinker, by tracing the basic ideas in his novels and dramas; as artist, by tracing the genesis of characteristic works until the final satisfying version, a process that could take up to twenty years to complete. Schnitzler was above all a perfectionist. Schnitzler's creative work is largely an expression of his yearning for life and his preoccupation with death. At his best he is not a cheerful poet. Death ever lurks behind the merry words and the light-hearted love affairs of his characters. Repeatedly this "diagnostician of his time" reminds us that all acts and relations, all eternal vows and far-flung ambitions are but transitory. It is this consciousness of death's omnipresence which often lends to Schnitzler's works the unique melancholy and particular pathos associated with his name. Schnitzler is regarded today not only as the outstanding author of his generation in Austria, but also as a writer who belongs to world literature.