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Die Verwirrungen des Zöglings…
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Die Verwirrungen des Zöglings Törleß (original 1906; edition 2008)

by Robert Musil, Robert Musil (Author)

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1,516254,872 (3.71)71
Member:timoheuer
Title:Die Verwirrungen des Zöglings Törleß
Authors:Robert Musil
Other authors:Robert Musil (Author)
Info:Rowohlt Tb. (2008), Edition: 54., Aufl., Taschenbuch, 208 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:****
Tags:deutsche literatur, deutschsprachige literatur, folter, kindheit, aufwachsen, heranwachsen, jugend, erwachsenwerden, österreichische literatur

Work details

The Confusions of Young Törless by Robert Musil (1906)

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» See also 71 mentions

English (19)  Portuguese (2)  Dutch (2)  Italian (1)  Swedish (1)  All (25)
Showing 1-5 of 19 (next | show all)
I did no enjoy nor relate to this book. Boys are mean, basically. I imagine men--at least those men that might be able to relate to a c1900 Austro-Hungarian boys' boarding school or a similar situation--might be able to relate to this much better and might find it much more moving.

Per the intro, Musil said that nothing in here didn't happen, essentially. But we all know kids can be cruel. Girls exclude, boys torment. And the boys in here do torment. Largely upper class kids sent to a boarding school with way too much unsupervised time to themselves. ( )
  Dreesie | Mar 17, 2018 |
Robert Musil is one of my favorite authors and his story of Young Torless, published in 1906, is one reason. The novel reflects an obsession in this period with educational institutions and the oppressive impact they exert on personal development. While it is in the tradition of the German Bildungsroman, the novel of education, it is critical of educational system and the institutionalized coercion portrayed in the novel. In my reading experience I compared it with the experience of Philip Carey in Maugham's Of Human Bondage or other traditional British school novels (see Tom Brown). In the American tradition, one thinks of J. D. Salinger's Catcher in the Rye as representing a protest against a social disciplining that is also a disciplining of sexuality. Sexual disciplining can often become the standard for other forms of discipline.

The novel tells the story of three students at an Austrian boarding school, Reiting, Beineberg and the titular young Törless. The three catch their classmate Basini stealing money from one of them and decide to punish him themselves instead of turning him in to the school authorities. They start an abusive process, first physically and then psychologically and sexually, while also blackmailing him by threatening to denounce him. While the treatment of Basini becomes openly sexual and increasingly sadistic, he nevertheless masochistically endures it all.

It is the moral and sexual confusion of young Torless that leads him to join Beineberg's and Reiting's degradation of Basini; he is both sexually attracted to Basini and Beineberg and repelled by them. Even though he is a willing participant he tells himself that he is merely trying to understand the gap between his rational self and his obscure irrational self. In a modern way he is both a disturbed and despairing observer of his own states of consciousness. Basini professes love for Törless and Törless begins to reciprocate, but he is ultimately repelled by Basini's unwillingness to stand up for himself. His disgust with Basini's passivity ultimately leads him in a curious way to stand up to Beineberg and Reiting. When the torment becomes unbearable, Törless secretly advises Basini alleviate his situation by confessing to the headmaster.

While an investigation is made, the only party to be found guilty is Basini. Törless makes a strange existential speech to the school authorities about the gap between the rational and irrational: "I said it seemed to me that at these points we couldn't get across merely by the aid of thought, and we needed another and more inward sort of certainty to get us to the other side, as you might say. We can't manage solely by means of thinking, I felt that in the case of Basini too." (p 208)
After he had finished, "When he had left the room, the masters looked at each other with baffled expressions." (p 212)
They decide he is of too refined an intellect for the institute, and suggest to his parents that he be privately educated, a conclusion that he comes to on his own.

Other subplots include Törless's experience with the local prostitute Božena, his encounter with his mathematics teacher, and his analysis of his parents' attitudes toward the world. The severity of the conditions makes one wonder about Musil's own experience. One important theme Musil also takes up is the Nietzschean idea of the dichotomy between Apollo and Dionysus. This can be seen in the "two worlds" (p 45) in which light is contrasted with dark, the controlled and disciplined intellect with more spontaneous sensuality.

Young Torless is an impressive short novel with a depth of meaning and character that often is not achieved in much longer works. It is a ( )
1 vote jwhenderson | Apr 26, 2017 |
I've just read so many stories of public schools and the sadism of youths in the past that it seemed like a crime to overlook Musil's novel. It does not shock or surprise me in the least, which might be the reaction if I hadn't read quite so many accounts of 19th and early-20th century boys schools. Two things did surprise me, though.

1. The gun was described and placed there but never used because fuck Chekov, right?
2. Törless is a self-centred little prick and the narrative doesn't seem to criticize/even notice this at the end

But there was something I enjoyed about the unapologetic music. Pages and pages without dialogue, without events, without moving from a spot. Törless' heightened perception of reality where objects are so much more than themselves. It reminded me of something I feel when I read Hesse, and it affirms for me the power of that interior exploration which I can shy away from in my own writing for fear of it being uninteresting. Musil executes it so well. Often melancholic, but not always, and if it weren't midnight it would have sent me out for a walk through a park to let myself hold onto all of that just a little longer. ( )
  likecymbeline | Apr 1, 2017 |
What to do with the young man who so willingly abases himself? And those willing to abase him? That's the book in a nutshell. ( )
  soylentgreen23 | Jul 3, 2016 |
'A thought—it may have passed through our brain long ago—comes to life only at the moment when it is joined by something that is no longer thought, no longer logical, so that we feel its truth beyond all justification, like an anchor tearing from it into blood-filled, living flesh...'

The Confusions of Young Törless is one of those rare, incendiary books that reframes remarkably diverse avenues of thought without sacrificing an inner-cohesion: here we can find winding, tortured examinations of subjects as diverse as social anxiety, epistemology, mysticism, morality, sexuality, sadism, classism; if the novel succeeds at weaving such disparate threads into a symmetrical whole, it is because the titular Törless' journey from naïveté to young adulthood remains isolated as a single point in both time and experience—The Confusions of Young Törless is, expressly, a life examined: but it is a life as difficult to dissect in circumstance as in totality. That it is simultaneously an eerily prophetic cautionary tale (to a point) capable of deftly illustrating the wanton cruelty and corrupting influence of power upon the youth of a pre-Fascist Europe and also a haunting profile of adolescent homosexuality is a testament to Robert Musil's unique talents for subtlety, depth, and hypnotically inward-peering honesty.

Törless, a thoughtful boy, is sent away to a prestigious boarding school, where he finds himself in the company of two other young men (proto-Fascists, both), Reiting and Beineberg; the former idolizes Napoleon and aspires to high authority while the latter possesses a noxiously parochial mystic strain (a remarkable bit of precognition on Musil's part, given the obsession with Occultism that the Nazis, decades later, would fixate upon). Törless, meanwhile, spends much of his time consumed by a kind of inner anarchy, considering at length the paradoxes and slippery formlessness of his own philosophical, near-existential, obsessions—namely, highly contentious questions surrounding the 'what' and the 'why' of the confusing dualities of the rational and irrational (particularly well-illustrated by a meditation on imaginary numbers). A relatively trivial crime—a theft—committed by a further adolescent, the lithe and attractive Basini, sets in motion a series of shockingly debauched episodes in which the three young men—Törless chiefly (though hardly exclusively) in the role of observer—brutally rape, defile, and lambaste the meek, effete, and troubled Basini. Over the course of these debasements, Törless' confusion over his mingled attractions and repulsions regarding the vicitimzed youth, as both an object of disdain and almost transcendent beauty, forces Törless to confront more openly both the anomie of his peers and his own curiously all-encompassing weltschmerz, all the while professing an ultimate indifference towards the fate of the long-suffering Basini.

It is within this last that much of the novel's complexity develops: Törless is concerned with his own development and self-understanding, without exception; and while impulse forces upon him a more magnanimous view of Basini's plight (inasmuch as it amounts to torture), when the dust clears, his repudiation of the barbarism of his peers is more a byproduct of his dismissal of petty arrogance, 'mysticism,' and incongruities of logic than a defense of the abused. He loathes the idea of Basini as much as he finds cause for ridicule in the credos of Reiting or Beineberg, which effectively neutralizes the situation, amid his exhaustive meditation; the highly-immoral persecution of Basini is only disturbing to Törless inasmuch as it distracts him from concrete direction within his own life. Törless never fully disavows or approves of the crimes central to the novel's plot: though it can be argued that by reducing the aggressors to the same feeble folly as the victim, Musil illustrates the hypocrisy and inanity of authoritarianism through the omnipresence of narration.

Robert Musil is chiefly noted for his unfinished The Man Without Qualities, an influential text of Modernism; but it is in The Confusions of Young Törless, his first novel—penned at a mere twenty-six-years-old and highly influenced by his own years in boarding school—that Musil bridges the gap between the Symbolist and Decadent modes contemporaneous with his youth and the Postmodernism that was to evolve in the aftermath of the political and social movements (only in their infancies at the time of publication) that the novel, arguably, presages. Reiting and Beineberg have their analogues in various political figures of the coming decades and it takes little imagination to see these remarkably human characters—here described in their youth with all its folly, naïveté, arrogance, and pretension—as the seeds of later Hitlers, Francos, and Mussolinis. Given the themes, accents, and dubious moralities of The Confusions of Young Törless, then, it is hardly surprising that the Nazi government that came to power in the latter years of Musil's life saw fit to burn it: a circumstance as decidedly bereft of justice as the conclusion of the novel itself.

Very seldom are novels written from places of personal experience without collapsing, even if only briefly, into the motions of maudlin nostalgia or self-defense. This is not one of those novels—from first page to last, this affecting and disturbing account of anxiety, decadence, and the liberation of the intellect is almost clinically concerned with the candor of its narrative. Lacking heavy-handed leitmotif or obvious allegory, indifferent to the attractive glimmer of intellectual or emotional trifles, The Confusions of Young Törless—a century onwards—remains both a classic of Expressionist literature and a strikingly effective indictment of subjugation and violence, even if only through the lens of its protagonist's detached and highly-abstract inquisitions. ( )
3 vote veilofisis | Jan 15, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 19 (next | show all)
I Robert Musils klasseromsfascisme ligger spiren til kommunistenes ideologiske fanatisme og nazistenes industrielle folkemord.

I den tysk-østerrikske verden omkring forrige århundreskifte hørte det med at unge gutter ble sendt på kadettskole. Slik også med unge Tørless. Han finner seg til rette, først nysgjerrig, så med resignert ro. "Lengter Lillegutt hjem?" spør plutselig den to år eldre Reiting. Tørless blir et lett bytte for det systemet Reiting og Beneberg har bygget opp i utkanten av – eller i forlengelsen av – skolens regler. Det begynner med at de presser den litt puslete Basini for penger han skylder dem. Det fortsetter med systematisk tyrannisering og mishandling. Inspirert av skolens idealer om legemlig og åndelig disiplin og forakt for svakhet, bygger de sitt eget, fordreide univers av maktbrynde og underkastelse. Tørless er vitne, men tyranniets mekanismer kan ikke forhindre at han også blir medskyldig. Samtidig er han forvirret; han er både frastøtt og tiltrukket av stakkars Basini. Men tvetydighet passer ikke inn i et diktatur.
 

» Add other authors (47 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Musil, Robertprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Bodláková, JitkaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Cetti Marinoni, BiancaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Diamand, FrankTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Freij, Lars W.Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Grebeníčková, RůženaAfterwordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Kaiser, ErnstTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Rho, AnitaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Whiteside, ShaunTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Wilkins, EithneTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0142180009, Paperback)

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. A century later, Musil's first novel still retains its shocking, prophetic power.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:05:14 -0400)

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