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The Man Without Qualities, Volume 2: Into…

The Man Without Qualities, Volume 2: Into the Millennium; From the… (1933)

by Robert Musil

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: The Man Without Qualities (Wilkins/Pike, 2)

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7361018,947 (4.43)10



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English (8)  French (2)  All languages (10)
Showing 1-5 of 8 (next | show all)
The genius of this tomb? "The story of this novel amounts to this, that the story that ought to be told in it is not told." - Musil ( )
  PhilSroka | Apr 12, 2016 |
Can one finish a book that itself is unfinished? I've stopped reading in the fourth book, feeling that I was going where the novel itself had not gone -- through a final editing to a finished or abandoned work. Here we're approaching the territory of the well-known idea that a novel is never finished, it's simply abandoned. Thus death prevented Robert Musil from getting The Man Without Qualities to the point of abandonment.

So I'll say a bit about the parts he abandoned to print during his lifetime, secure in the belief that more was to come. Perhaps it wasn't just my imagination that the attitude and writing seemed inconsistent with the earlier parts once one entered the fourth volume, the sensibilities seeming less finely honed, justifying Musil's dissatisfaction.

The imminence of WWI hangs over the work, the date letting the reader know that everything described is going to change radically and often horribly very soon. Does the novel record the way the world was before the cataclysmic war, or show us the origin of the folly and waste that brought it on?

There's no answer to this, but while inwardly quaking at the disaster to come, we can enjoy the social comedy Musil lays before us, the great national event to be commemorated in ways everyone can object to, planning done at posh gatherings in posh surroundings by high society with a sprinkling of the titled among them.

Against this, Walter and Clarisse and Ulrich and Agathe thrash out intellectual propositions that mean everything to them but are remote from the world and even their lives.

A wonderful book, unfinished or not: its reputation precedes it and sets the stage for disappointment, which never appears. I plan to re-experience it in the shorter version by different translators published earlier, material Musil saw through publication. It's been said that translation is more appropriate if less smooth, though this one, by Sophie Wilkins and Burton Pike, was expressive and elegant.

Despite the growing disorganization of the last volume, withdrawn from publication for reworking which his short life denied him, interest and even excitement lasted to the end...and may continue some day with the drafts and sketches that give this complex, polished work such a rag-tag ending.

  V.V.Harding | Apr 21, 2015 |
Well, I could no more ever really "finish" reading the material in this volume than the benighted Musil could finish writing his novel. It's an exercise in fascination and frustration unparalleled in my reading experience. The rich exploration of consciousness and how to live in a de-centered world continues but the story spins toward total entropy as the impossibility of what Musil was trying to imagine looms larger. Yet, as some insightful critics like Stephan Jonsson and Mark Freed have recognized, he was on to something that remains on the agenda if we are ever to evolve past the frenzied yet immobile "pseudoreality" in which his characters are trapped. We still live in Musil's world. That's the highest praise I can think to give the creator of any work of imagination. ( )
  CSRodgers | May 3, 2014 |
The quintessential 'ideas' novel, where twenty page long discourses on the meaning of love can happen after 'I love you'. It's thick and interlaced with meaning, and it works just fine that way.

This edition had several hundred pages of notes and earlier drafts, which were also fascinating. ( )
  HadriantheBlind | Mar 30, 2013 |
By far, the best book I have read in the last ten years. The long-ish preamble is actually quite literarily hypnotic. I don't mind the slow pace of the book, but those interested in the brisk read should give this one a pass. ( )
  Ballardion | Nov 17, 2011 |
Showing 1-5 of 8 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (18 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Musil, Robertprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Frisé, AdolfEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Kaiser, ErnstTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Rebhuhn, WernerCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Wilkins, EithneTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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La sera dello stesso giorno, Ulrich, arrivato a... e uscito dalla stazione, si vide davanti una vasta piazza riarsa che alle estremità si restringeva in due strade, e la sua memoria ne ebbe quell'impressione quasi dolorosa che è propria di un paesaggio visto e rivisto e poi dimenticato.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0679768025, Paperback)

"Musil belongs in the company of Joyce, Proust, Kafka, and Svevo. . . . (This translation) is a literay and intellectual event of singular importance."--New Republic.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:10:50 -0400)

A novel in four volumes on the dying culture of pre-World War I Vienna. The man without qualities of the title is Ulrich, a skeptical type who views with an amused eye all attempts by the rulers of the Austro-Hungarian Empire to instill in their subjects the nationalistic fervor of neighboring Germany. The author died in 1942.… (more)

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