An Austrian doctor invites his visiting student son to accompany him on his rounds through rural villages; but what begins as their attempt at intimacy ends as a demonstration of irremediable human solitude. The doctor, a philosopher skeptical of medical ""cures,"" hints repeatedly at deeper causes of the symptoms they encounter and, as well, of the epidemic madness and brutality of the villagers. As the scenes become more feverishly intense, metaphors of psychic imprisonment are more and more clearly evident; and their paradox--longings for freedom and connection, contradicted by jealous guardianship of privacy--emerges as the determining principle of Bernhard's stylized universe. Attempts to reach out become assault, love suffocates the weaker party, intrusions are toxic. The nervous irritability, frustration and despair congeal finally in a darkly brilliant monologue by the prince, whose lucid, leisured insanity alone is equal to the exposition. Not pleasant, certainly, but engrossing enough to push commonsense sanguinity temporarily out of mind and very ably translated from the German by Richard and Clara Winston.