Man without Qualities, Vol. 1

Man without Qualities, Vol. 1

by Robert Musil

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Overview

Along the sun-spattered boulevards of Vienna in the year 1913, in its gayest cafés and greyest prisons, in its most brilliant salons and dingiest kitchens, the great Austrian writer, Robert Musil, brings the reader of The Man Without Qualities face to face with life itself. This magnificent novel justly has been compared with the best of modern masterpieces. One must turn to writers of the genius of Joyce and Proust, Stendhal and Dostoyevsky, to find a talent of equal brilliance.
This volume is the first of four which will introduce this masterwork of European literature to the English-speaking world. Complete in itself, it establishes the action and introduces the major themes of the novel.

Product Details

BN ID: 2940016113777
Publisher: Crane Books LLC
Publication date: 12/17/2012
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 409
Sales rank: 204,304
File size: 468 KB

About the Author

Robert Musil, born in Klagenfurt, Austria, in 1880, was the most important novelist writing in Germany in the first half of this century. At the age of twenty-six, after the success of his first novel, he abandoned an academic career in philosophy to devote himself entirely to writing. His voluntary exile in Switzerland after the Anschluss resulted in the banning of his works in Germany. The Man Without Qualities to which he devoted the last twenty years of his life remained uncompleted at the time of his sudden death in Switzerland in 1942.

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Man without Qualities, Vol. 1 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 4 reviews.
GarySeverance on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Robert Musil¿s two-volume unfinished novel published in 1952 and 1978 is remarkably relevant to the current Zeitgeist in the United States. The central character Ulrich is a man without qualities, a person indifferent to his middle class position and abilities. But he is described by a friend as consisting of qualities without a man, a cynical poser hiding behind general intellectual and social skills. Ulrich is afforded prescience from beyond ¿the break¿ as Musil¿s contemporary Thomas Mann described the Great War. He realizes the traditional world of art and culture in kingly and bureaucratic Austria (fictional Kakania) is on the brink of destruction due to advances of the middle class in commerce and science. All that is needed for the old world to be tipped into the abyss is the identification of a scapegoat by intellectually deficient but charismatic leaders and the mobilization of diverse and self-interested ethnic and national subgroups. This seems to be our `ghost of the time¿ in America in 2008.Ulrich¿s indifference is made possible by the lifelong efforts of the careful work of his middle class social diplomat father. The family¿s financial advantages allow him to begin a career in science, specifically mathematics, with theoretical rather than applied goals. Ulrich has some success as a mathematician, but sees no future in what is nothing more than a social group of like-minded theorists. As a result of his father¿s connections and his own personal charisma, Ulrich is recognized for general intellect and charm by the monarchy and upper middle class in Austria. He is appointed to a leadership position on a national committee charged with the task of developing a theme, a slogan that will unite Austria in pride during the seventieth jubilee of the Emperor Franz Joseph I. Because of his prescience and cynicism, he realizes that the group has an impossible task. The future of Austria does not involve celebration of the old, but rather radical social change targeting the Jews as scapegoats and the empowering of special interest groups within the Austro-Hungarian Empire.We can see the parallels between the setting of the novel, Ulrich¿s fictional Austrian city-state Kakania, and the United States as we face an economic meltdown and a change of leadership in the White House. We can anticipate the inevitable cycle of change, but who will benefit? What leaders will gain support in the new era of our undercivilized culture: the proponents of humanity and tradition or those of Realpolitic based on practicality and power? Musil¿s novel puts the reader in the unique position of identifying with Ulrich, a self made person without intrinsically valuable qualities, living in a disintegrating nation. If we, like Ulrich, possess superficial and limiting personal qualities and are indifferent to them, we will be reliant on the intervention and restriction of government in our daily lives. The result may be that we have no enduring and free culture to help us understand and maintain the values of the human person.
tayoulevy on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
this is an obligatory book if one is to understand modernity
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago