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Robert Musil - book author

Austrian writer.

He graduated military boarding school at Eisenstadt (1892-1894) and then Hranice, in that time also known as Mährisch Weißkirchen, (1894-1897). These school experiences are reflected in his first novel - The confusions of young Törless.

He served in army during The First World War. When Austria became a part of the Third Reich in 1938, Musil left for exile in Switzerland, where he died of a stroke on April 15, 1942. Musil collapsed in the middle of his gymnastic exercises and is rumoured to have died with an expression of ironic amusement on his face. He was 61 years old.

Robert Musil is the author of books: The Man Without Qualities, The Confusions of Young Törless, The Man Without Qualities: Volume I (1/2), The Man Without Qualities: Volume II, Five Women, Der Mann ohne Eigenschaften I: Erstes und zweites Buch, Nachlaß zu Lebzeiten, The Musil Diaries: Robert Musil, 1899-1942, Flypaper, Thought Flights

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Set in Vienna on the eve of World War I, this great novel of ideas tells the story of Ulrich, ex-soldier and scientist, seducer and skeptic, who finds himself drafted into the grandiose plans for the 70th jubilee of the Emperor Franz Josef. This new translation - published in two elegant volumes - is the first to present Musil's complete text, including material that remained unpublished during his lifetime.
Like his contemporary and rival Sigmund Freud, Robert Musil boldly explored the dark, irrational undercurrents of humanity. The Confusions of Young Törless, published in 1906 while he was a student, uncovers the bullying, snobbery, and vicious homoerotic violence at an elite boys academy. Unsparingly honest in its depiction of the author's tangled feelings about his mother, other women, and male bonding, it also vividly illustrates the crisis of a whole society, where the breakdown of traditional values and the cult of pitiless masculine strength were soon to lead to the cataclysm of the First World War and the rise of fascism. More than a century later, Musil's first novel still retains its shocking, prophetic power.
A Sort of Introduction and Pseudo Reality Prevails
" Musil belongs in the company of Joyce, Proust, Kafka, and Svevo. . . . (This translation) is a literay and intellectual event of singular importance." --New Republic.
A combination of two of Musil's books: Drei Frauen (1924) (Three Women – a collection of three short stories) and Vereinigungen (1911) (Unions – a collection of two short stories).

The recent translations of The Man Without Qualities and Musil's Diaries have shown why the Austrian writer is often thought of as Germanic literature's Proust, and this newly translated English version of his five hefty stories demonstrates that the novelist's work in shorter fiction also bears his distinctive iconoclastic, bold signature. Opening the volume are a trio of tales, two of which, "Grigia" and "Tonka," investigate the sexuality of peasant women. Musil's cerebral style seamlessly executes his explorations of the mind/body duality, the ways society and intellectual life affect, but do not eradicate, the truth of the carnal body. His attitudes toward femininity oscillate between fear, disenchantment and adoration, and in stories written over 75 years ago, this range of perception will be tantalizing for readers who value innovative classics. (From Publishers Weekly)
Musils Protagonist Ulrich ist gar kein Mann ohne Eigenschaften. Der Romantitel führt da ein wenig in die Irre. Tatsächlich ist es eine "Welt von Eigenschaften ohne Mann", die im Buch nichts Charakteristisches mehr zu bieten hat. Bereits die umwerfende Eingangssequenz macht diesen Leerlauf anschaulich, indem sie den Leserblick trichterförmig von metereologischen Banalitäten zu einem Verkehrsunfall in Wien an "einem schönen Augusttag des Jahres 1913" hinunterlenkt, dessen vermeintliche Tragik technische Erklärungen (Bremsversagen) bagatellisieren. Wie in Samuel Becketts Murphy darf auch hier die Sonne zunächst "auf nichts Neues" und Besonderes mehr scheinen. Diese Erkenntnis bringt Ulrich letztlich dazu, "Urlaub vom Leben" zu nehmen und sich in Reflexionen über eben dieses Leben zu ergehen. Die selbstgewählte "Eigenschaftslosigkeit" der Figur erweist sich so als ihre herausragendste Eigenschaft.

Im Mann ohne Eigenschaften passiert nur wenig. Aber es wird unendlich viel gedacht im Buch, und am Ende wird sogar noch intensiv gefühlt: In der Geschwisterliebe Ulrichs zu Agathe realisiert sich die Utopie eines "anderen Zustands" jenseits der absurden Welt. Hierfür findet der Mann ohne Eigenschaften dann poetisch präzise Bilder ohne intellektuelle Schwere, so in meinem Lieblingskapitel Atemzüge eines Sommertags: "Die Sonne war unterdessen höher gestiegen, die Stühle hatten sie wie gestrandete Boote in dem flachen Schatten beim Haus zurückgelassen. Ein geräuschloser Strom glanzlosen Blütenschnees schwebte, von einer abgeblühten Baumgruppe kommend, durch den Sonnenschein; und der Atem, der ihn trug, war so sanft, daß sich kein Blatt regte. Kein Schatten fiel davon auf das Grün des Rasens, aber dieses schien sich von innen zu verdunkeln wie ein Auge". Gäbe es nur diese wunderschöne Stelle, so hätte sich die Lektüre der weit über 1000 vorangegangenen Seiten schon gelohnt. --Thomas Köster

Meisterliche Prosastücke von Robert Musil, den die Londoner "Times" den "bedeutendsten deutschschreibenden Romancier der ersten Hälfte unseres Jahrhunderts und zugleich unbekanntesten Schriftsteller dieses Zeitalters" nannte. Dieser zuerst 1936 veröffentlichte Band enthält Bilder, Betrachtungen und Geschichten, darunter die berühmte Erzählung "Die Amsel". Die meisten dieser Stücke sind zwischen 1920 und 1929 entstanden, Nebenprodukte bei der Arbeit am "Mann ohne Eigenschaften". (Amazon)
The Diaries of Robert Musil are a secret look into the life and mind of a writer whose fiction embodies one of the twentieth century's daring leaps of consciousness. Ranked with Franz Kafka, Marcel Proust, and James Joyce in the pantheon of European modernists, Musil attempted to apply the precision of his scientific training to the utmost bounds of the imagination. In a series of notebooks kept through most of his literary career, Musil reflected, often through stunning epigrams, on his childhood, his erotic life, his methods of creative thought and his fellow writers. An indispensable guide to his fiction, essays and plays, the pages of the diaries provide a skeleton key for his complex unfinished masterpiece The Man Without Qualities. Known for extreme personal reticence among his contemporaries, Musil in the diaries (which were never intended for publication), speaks nakedly of himself and the chaotic events he lived through.This selection from the diaries is based on the exhaustive 1976 German edition prepared by Adolf Frisé. Most of its sketches, anecdotes and personal reflections have been translated into English. An acute political and cultural observer, Musil recorded in these pages his experiences of Berlin at the outbreak of World War I and service in the Austrian army on the Italian Front. The last notebooks chronicle Hitler's rise to power and Musil's exile in Switzerland. The diaries are valuable in a number of ways: as a first-hand historical document of life in twentieth century central Europe, as a kind of unwitting autobiography of a great novelist, and as a writer's workbook that details the moods of artistic adventure.In the diaries Robert Musil challenged himself to think about a reality beyond the world that could be apprehended by logic, to entertain the possibilities of forbidden eroticism, to imagine the hidden mystical life of Fascist Europe, and to turn the question of sexual gender into the puzzle of identity.
One of the very first rank of prose stylists, Robert Musil captures a scene's every telling detail and symbolic aspect with a precise and remarkable beauty. In these nine stories and essays, he considers holidaymakers and stone monuments, tales of war and blackbirds, and the great pathos of a tiny death: a fly's impossible fight against the grip of flypaper.
Robert Musil's 'Thought Flights' vividly evokes the secrets, challenges, and mundanities of interwar life in cosmopolitan Vienna and Berlin.

The texts presented here have been selected by translator Genese Grill from Musil's 'Nachlass' and collected for the first time under the title 'Thought Flights'. They include material originally published in journals, newspapers, and magazines--but not included in Musil's Posthumous Papers of a Living Author--as well as literary fragments and heretofore unpublished texts. Despite the temporal, geographical, and cultural distance between Musil's world and ours, our own time and troubles are all too recognizable in Musil's portrayals of the ' age of money,' of simulation, and of standardization. Thought Flights is a lament of contemporary complacency, optimism, and homogenization as well as a celebration of living words and original thought by one of the great Modernists if the 20th century.
As an astonishing master of metaphor and self-described 'monsieur le vivisecteur', Musil explores the psyches and lives of himself and his contemporaries with illuminating insight. The lucid, striking prose of his stories and vignettes, and the wise and witty commentary of his glosses, show Musil's response to innovations in technology, art and politics, and his efforts to enact a strategy for both illuminating and ameliorating the crisis of language that haunted his contemporaries. Moving effortlessly from discussions of fashion to Kant's categorical imperative, 'le vivisecteur' writes with humor, lyricism, and fervor in an open genre availing itself of poetic prose, philosophical essay, fictional narrative, and feuilletonistic lightness. Through unlikely combinations and metaphoric syntheses, Musil brings " beauty and excitement" into the world, and when things that are usually separate unite, thoughts "fly".
With this publication, the now growing English-language corpus of the author of 'The Confusions of Young Toerless', 'Five Women', and 'The Man without Qualities' is expanded further. Other volumes of Musil's writings will be forthcoming from Contra Mundum Press over the next decade.