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The Man Without Qualities

by Robert Musil

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: The Man Without Qualities (undifferentiated)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
552836,088 (4.34)104
It is 1913, and Viennese high society is gripped by a mission to find an appropriate way of celebrating the seventieth jubilee of the accession of Emperor Franz Josef. But as the aristocracy tries to salvage something illustrious out of the collapse of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, the ordinary Viennese world is beginning to show signs of more serious rebellion. Caught in the middle of this social labyrinth is Ulrich: youngish, rich, an ex-soldier, seducer and scientist.Unable to deceive himself that the jumble of attributes and values that his world has bestowed on him amounts to anything so innate as a 'character', he is effectively a man 'without qualities', a brilliant, detached observer of the spinning, racing society around him. Part satire, part visionary epic, part intellectual tour de force, The Man Without Qualities is a work of immeasurable importance.… (more)
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» See also 104 mentions

English (4)  Italian (2)  French (1)  Spanish (1)  All languages (8)
Showing 4 of 4
I finished 2021 annual read for Reading 1001. It took me 11 months though I did finish on December 1st. I found this book difficult to engage and I generally read it at the end of each month if I finished other books more to my liking. This is a lot of philosophy with a bit of a story to it. I would classify it maybe as satire of political systems. It is also unfinished which I really dislike reading unfinished novels, often finished by family members. Its also called a modernist novel. From wiki; the plot often veers into allegorical digressions on a wide range of existential themes concerning humanity and feelings. It has a particular concern with the values of truth and opinion and how society organizes ideas about life and society, though the book is well over a thousand pages long in its entirety, and so no one single theme dominates."
Here are my highlights;
1. We have gained in terms of reality and lost in terms of the dream
2. mathematics is the source of a wicked intellect that, while making man the lord of the earth, also makes him the slave of the machine.
3. he felt like some noxious little worm that was being attentively scrutinised by a large hen.
4. it could not ward off the realisation that in its main outlines life at such posts remains the life one has brought out from home with the rest of one’s luggage.
5. And as he advances through life, leaving behind him what he has lived through, a wall is formed by what is still to be lived and what has been lived, and in the end his path resembles that of a worm in the wood, which can twist any way it likes, even turning backwards, but always leaves an empty space behind it. And this dreadful feeling of a blind space, a space cut off behind all the fullness, this half that is always still lacking even although everything has become a whole, is what finally causes one to notice what one calls the soul.
6. In youth it is a distinct feeling of uncertainty, in everything one does, as to whether whatever it is is really the right thing. In old age it is amazement at how little one has done of all that one actually intended.
7. how science came to have its present-day aspect (which is in itself important, since after all it dominates us, not even an illiterate being safe from
8. primal Evil, as it might be called, is something they do not lose even in undergoing this trans formation. It is apparently indestructible and eternal, or at least as eternal as everything humanly sublime, since it consists in nothing less, nothing other, than the pleasure of tripping that sublimity up and watching it fall flat on its face.
9. awareness of the greater evil, a readiness to riot, a mistrust of everything one respects. There are people who complain about youth’s lack of ideals, but who, in the moment when they must act, automatically come to the same decision as anyone who, from a very healthy mistrust of ideas, reinforces their gentle power with a blackjack.

There you have it. Wiki sums it up well. This will never be a reread. Too much scrawl, failed to be succinct, failed to complete, some plot, some characters which both are a plus, poor kindle quality, Rating 2.6. ( )
  Kristelh | Dec 1, 2021 |
An AMAZING book. This is one of the finest novels, of its time, that I've ever come across. You go into depth into the minds of the characters, their philosophies, feelings, and situations. Musil brings Vienna to life, with all its tribulations, mysteries, and intrigues. Furthermore, he establishes the characters with such a strong base that they are vivid and lifelike. A truly magnificent novel that touches on so much and that I believe is still highly relevant today. This is not one to be missed.

4.5 stars- and FULLY deserved. ( )
1 vote DanielSTJ | Jul 19, 2019 |
ALLIBISCO.
(Per un commento più utile rivolgersi altrove, io sono stupefatto da questo libro che reputo uno dei motivi per cui sono contento di essere al mondo!)
Mi spiace per quelli che non sono riusciti a sintonizzarsi. SI SONO PROPRIO PERSI QUALCOSA! ;-)
Sicuramente però mi sembra più probabile che sia un problema loro (e, pensandoci un po' di più, avrebbero potuto soppesare maggiormente le parole prima di stroncare questo libro come un Baricco qualsiasi) che non di Musil che con quest'opera è entrato nel Pantheon della letteratura mondiale di tutti i tempi. ( )
  downisthenewup | Aug 17, 2017 |
My first shot at TMWQ was almost twenty years ago. Fifty pages into it I knew it was my kind of book. One hundred pages in and I was losing my way. I put it aside for later. Returning to it a couple of years later, the experience was identical. And the patern continued again and again with the passage of time; each times I abandoned it, but not definitively. I had the feeling it was a book that could please me a lot. Here’s a revealing line from it:

one thing … could safely be said about Ulrich: he loved mathematics because of the kind of people who could not endure it.

Some months ago, in compiling a list of books for different occasions, I selected TMWQ for the honour of one book you’ve been meaning to read. Then it made it to the status of new year resolution.

Sadly, the saga ends here. After 800 pages, I’ve abandoned again. I can’t see myself getting back to it; it’s too big an undertaking.

So how was it? Great, amusing, provocative, ironic and dull by turns. The English, presumably consistently with the original German, is beautiful but not exactly vernacular. I found myself reading passages from it to friends and family and recording them in my blog. But it was too long and frequently too dull or, perhaps, too learned for me and so it’s official: I’m moving on with my life. It has been compared with James Joyce’s Ulysses and it has received the same fate on my bookshelf.
1 vote tchelyzt | Jul 15, 2017 |
Showing 4 of 4
In einer stark durch essayistische Exkurse und Reflexionen geprägten Prosa entfaltet Musil ein zeitgeschichtliches Panoptikum, das im Mikrokosmos des Romans den Übergang von der durch Aufklärung und Rationalität geprägten großbürgerlichen Gesellschaft zur modernen Massengesellschaft illustriert. Den Verwerfungen zwischen Individuum und Gesellschaft, welche diesen Prozess begleiten, gilt Musils Hauptinteresse.
added by bewogenlucht | editWikipedia-DE (Aug 20, 2015)
 
Musil's monumental novel contains more than 1,700 pages (depending on edition) in three volumes, the last of which was published by Musil's wife after his death. The novel is famous for the irony with which Musil displays Austrian society shortly before World War I. The story takes place in 1913 in Vienna, capital of Austria-Hungary which Musil refers to by the playful name Kakanien...
added by bewogenlucht | editWikipedia-EN (Aug 8, 2015)
 
Robert Musil hat sich mit seinem Hauptwerk eine möglichst umfassende Schilderung des menschlichen Lebens aufgebürdet, die ihr Hauptaugenmerk auf die unterschiedlichsten Gedanken seiner Zeit gerichtet hat. Im "Mann ohne Eigenschaften" finden wir den modernen Menschen in all seinen Widersprüchlichkeiten, in der längst vollzogenen Auflösung eines einheitlichen Glaubens, auf dem steinigen Pfad des Individualismus – und vor der unabwendbaren Katastrophe des Ersten und auch schon Zweiten Weltkrieges samt all seinem Grauen und seinen Gräueln (kühnere Historiker sprechen ja hier sowieso von einem zusammenhängenden Dreissigjährigen Krieg). Dass so ein Vorhaben im Ergebnis fragmentarisch bleiben musste, selbst wenn Musil 100 Jahre länger gelebt hätte, sollte auch dem am wenigsten wohlwollenden Kritiker klar sein. Was dem Leser jedoch bleibt, ist ein breit angelegter Roman voller philosophischer Tiefen, der ihm eine Welt eröffnet, in der er sich gänzlich verlieren kann, weil sie ihn in ihrer Intensität nur aufsaugen oder im Negativfall vollkommen unberührt belassen kann.
 

» Add other authors (34 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Musil, Robertprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Berger, WolframSprechersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Cases, CesareForewordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Frisé, AdolfEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Hom, HansEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Lesener, IngeborgTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Pike, BurtonTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Pike, BurtonEditorial consultantsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Radersma, JoEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Rebhuhn, WernerCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Rho, AnitaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Siebenscheinová, AnnaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Wilkins, SophieTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Credo che tutti i precetti della nostra morale siano concessioni a una società di selvaggi.
«Vi sono persone con le quali il più grande degli eroi non avrebbe il coraggio di tacere».
Accesa la luce, i volti illuminati apparvero come venuti a galla, quasi ancora bagnati di oscurità.
… ciascuno può difendere le proprie idee con la vita, ma chi induce altri a morire per le idee altrui è un assassino!
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It is 1913, and Viennese high society is gripped by a mission to find an appropriate way of celebrating the seventieth jubilee of the accession of Emperor Franz Josef. But as the aristocracy tries to salvage something illustrious out of the collapse of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, the ordinary Viennese world is beginning to show signs of more serious rebellion. Caught in the middle of this social labyrinth is Ulrich: youngish, rich, an ex-soldier, seducer and scientist.Unable to deceive himself that the jumble of attributes and values that his world has bestowed on him amounts to anything so innate as a 'character', he is effectively a man 'without qualities', a brilliant, detached observer of the spinning, racing society around him. Part satire, part visionary epic, part intellectual tour de force, The Man Without Qualities is a work of immeasurable importance.

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