Tagged: Robert Musil

Robert Musil: Thinking about Water

Excerpt from Robert Musil’s “Man Without Qualities, ” Volume One. Translated by Eithne Wilkins and Ernst KaiserPicador (1979) “A chapter that can be skipped by anyone who has no very high opinion of thinking as an occupation MEANWHILE Ulrich was at home, sitting at his desk; working. He had got out the analysis that he had broken off short some weeks earlier when he had made his decision to return from abroad. He did not intend finishing it; it merely pleased him that he was still capable of doing this sort of thing. The weather was fine, but in the...

Possibility and Reality in Robert Musil

One of the key passages in Musil’s novel “Man without Qualities” (1930) explains why Ulrich, the main character, has no qualities. He lives as much in the realm of possibilities as he lives grounded in a sense of reality. He, and the whole society around him, exists in a state of floating, suspended between reality and possibility, past and future. The time and the place of the novel is Vienna, shortly before the start of the First World War, which will bring an end to the world-wide dominance of European culture. There are many similarities between Musil’s unfinished book, Proust’s...

Robert Musil

Robert Musil (1880-1942) is one of my favorite German writers; he has a very subtle irony and thinks like a philosopher. He is not very well known in the English-speaking world,  so here is a short description of his life and a few quotes. The Person Robert Musil Robert Musil’s character is very well described in the excellent web resource about his life and work, at RobertMusil.net. Here is a short quote from it: “Robert Musil was not very pleasant company. Adolf Frisé indexed, in his “Plädoyer für Robert Musil” (1982) the qualities that were associated with Robert Musil by...

Robert Musil – Vollendung der Liebe

Aus der Geschichtensammlung “Vereinigungen”, 1911. “Erinnerst du dich,” sagte plötzlich die Frau, “als du mich vor einigen Abenden küßtest, wußtest du, daß da etwas zwischen uns war? Es war mir etwas eingefallen, im gleichen Augenblick, etwas ganz Gleichgültiges, aber es war nicht du und es tat mir plötzlich weh, daß es nicht du sein mußte. Und ich konnte es dir nicht sagen und mußte erst über dich lächeln, weil du es nicht wußtest und mir ganz nah zu sein glaubtest, und wollte es dir dann nicht mehr sagen und wurde böse auf dich, weil du es nicht selbst fühltest, und...