The earliest Arthur Schnitzler work I have found in English is the 1893 play Anatol, a comic, poignant, insightful, etc. investigation in seven scenes of the human sub-species of which Schnitzler himself was a member, Homo sapiens canis sexualis, commonly known as the skirt-chasin’ dog. I got all the detail I needed on that subject, in fact more, from Peter Gay’s history of the Victorian bourgeoisie, Schnitzler’s Century (2002), which is not even about Schnitzler. A big biography of him would be a trial. Schnitzler recorded everything.
The cast of the play: Anatol (the dog), his pal Max, and seven women, one for each scene. In not one but two scenes, Anatol is about to get married, but the woman in the scene is never the prospective bride. Anatol pursues women, juggles multiple girlfriends, has flings and long-term affairs, and beds an old girlfriend the night before his wedding (without telling her that he is about to marry).
Given that Anatol has a resemblance to his creator, I might think that the play excuses Anatol’s behavior, but in fact in each scene Anatol is portrayed as hypocritical and cruel. Schnitzler was a perceptive self-analyst, for all of the good it did him. Quoting Peter Gay, “As usual, this insight had no effect on his conduct” (p. 75), which could have been Schnitzler’s motto. But a positive result is that the play is pretty good.
Anatol is throwing a farewell supper for one of his girlfriends, at which he is planning to dump her. Viennese period note: they are at the Sacher Hotel which is still in operation, so you could do the same as Anatol! He has been giving a farewell supper every night for a week, it turns out. Maybe his friend Max will help him:
MAX: As for convincing her? I could never do such a thing. You’re a far too likable man.
ANATOL: But my dear Max! You could, up to a certain point? Couldn’t you? I mean, you could tell her that I’m no great loss.
MAX: I suppose I could.
ANATOL: And that she’ll find hundreds of other men who are – handsomer – richer –
MAX: More intelligent –
ANATOL: No, no, please. Don’t exaggerate. (Sc. V)
Max always gets the best lines. Once Annie arrives, she begins guzzling the champagne and oysters:
ANNIE: I’m just wild about oysters! It’s the only food one can eat every day.
MAX: Can?! Should! Must!
ANNIE: I know! I told you so!
It turns out she is dumping Anatol. He becomes hysterical, demanding, and finally cruel, revealing that he has been cheating on her, his secret turned into a weapon.
ANNIE: (At the door.) I would never have told you. Never. Only a man can be that inconsiderate.
The women do not necessarily win every battle, but they do well in the war. Some might object that love affairs are not battles. They are once the woman has been dragged down to Anatol’s level.
It is likely that you have seen this sitcom before, perhaps many times. Why read or watch a 120 year old version of what you can see in some form on Girls or How I Met Your Mother or some better example I have never seen? That is a good question. Some works of art are eternal; some are constantly updated and replaced.
Update: I forgot to include the source. Four Major Plays (1999), tr. Carl R. Mueller.