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The Man Without Qualities, Vol. 2: Into the Millennium Paperback – December 9, 1996

12 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From the Inside Flap

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

  • Paperback: 1056 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage; Reprint edition (December 9, 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0679768025
  • ISBN-13: 978-0679768029
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 2 x 7.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #174,998 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

61 of 68 people found the following review helpful By William Kasehoff on July 8, 2005
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The last reviewer obviously does NOT appreciate Musil in any true sense. There are no "unnecessarily longwinded, only somewhat interesting, conversations" --the reader who thinks this way has definitely ignored Musil's central concept of "Essayismus," which is essential to any understanding of the book. With this "essayism" Musil strove to find the perfect balance between the antipodes of life--art and science (clearly evident in the book's style), precision and soul, intuition and logic. It is the path to Utopia.

Musil's "anti-Semitism": The last reviewer points this out as a factor which might put off some readers. This is comparable to putting an emphasis on Dostoevsky's alleged anti-Semitism--you end up missing the whole point. By the way, Musil's wife Martha was Jewish. After Hitler's rise to power, the Musils, like many other intellectuals, fled to Switzerland. I don't know where one finds any anti-Semitism in Musil.

This book is highly rewarding when given the time. Don't be turned off by the length. It is much easier to read than Joyce and Proust and can actually be a real page-turner. Anyone who gives it less than five stars is just not getting it.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Laurie Aron on February 25, 2008
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This extraordinary novel, told in non-linear time and with many eddies and currents, captures the last of the "golden years" of the 19th century--technically the early 20th--when people in Vienna still clung to their traditions, their emperor, their rigid social order. A microscopic look at the middle European world before the abyss told through the viewpoint of a highly attractive and intellectual man, too individual for his time, a man, perhaps, of the future.
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25 of 33 people found the following review helpful By J C E Hitchcock on May 15, 2007
Format: Paperback
"The Man without Qualities" is a strange work indeed. It was left unfinished at the author's death, but nevertheless runs to well over 1,000 pages. There is very little in the way of coherent plot. The action is set in the latter part of 1913 and the early part of 1914, the last months of peace before the outbreak of World War I, and what plot there is centres upon the activities of a committee set up to explore ways of celebrating the seventieth anniversary of the accession of the Emperor Franz Josef of Austria-Hungary, an event which was due to occur in December 1918. In the event, of course, no celebrations for this anniversary ever took place, for two reasons. Firstly, Franz Josef was to die in 1916. Secondly, the Austro-Hungarian empire was to be swept away at the end of the war in November 1918.

The "man without qualities" of the title is Ulrich, one of the members of the committee. Ulrich is a handsome, wealthy and intelligent young man of good family, yet is described as being "without qualities" because he is bored, cynical and indifferent, dependent on the outer world to form his character. He has tried three different careers, as a soldier, engineer and mathematician, only to abandon them all, and accepts a place on the committee largely to alleviate the boredom of his existence as a wealthy layabout. In the course of the book we are introduced to the other members of the committee, such as the Prussian industrialist-intellectual Paul von Arnheim, Ulrich's idealistic, spiritually-minded cousin Diotima who becomes Arnheim's lover, and General Stumm von Bordwehr, forever trying to use the jubilee celebrations to further the interests of the Army.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Steiner VINE VOICE on July 28, 2008
Format: Paperback
Musil's continuation of 'The Man Without Qualities' takes us even deeper into the turn of the century continental psyche. Ulrich and Agathe deliberate both the will and legacy of their late father as well as the nature of morality, human sexuality, and perhaps the unconscious. There are extraordinary additions to Musil's elaborate cathedral of ideas and characters, such as the brief visit to the asylum to meet Moosbrugger, the intriguing murderer and psychopath that haunts the imaginations of the elite within the Parallel Campaign. Although the Man Without Qualities is an incomplete work, it remains as rich as any major novel of the 20th century; if only Musil had been able to endow it with the structural strength and form to bring it to a close as his primary literary rivals (Joyce, Proust) had done so brilliantly.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Angus M. Kennedy on April 25, 2009
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While "Into The Millenium" was largely complete, and the "Posthumous Papers" obviously not, even the completed section lacked the structure of Vol. 1 - the external characters and environment gave way almost completely to Ulric's evolving thoughts on emotion and love, intermingled, at times, with those of Agathe on similar subjects. While it gave an interesting insight into Musil's thought and creative processes, it was not overly satisfying, and a little disappointing. However, Vol. 1 was so satisfying that Vol. 2 can be forgiven.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By William Anderson on June 6, 2009
Format: Paperback
Musil began this book while the Austrian empire was collapsing. The story is widely understood as a study of individuals whose behavior reflects what is happening on the larger scale. The action takes place as Austria is headed over a cliff.

Musil continued the project until he died, shortly before Germany came to an end. (He died in 1942) His life, his book, his culture all end at the same time. This is powerful. He was writing about extraordinary events at an extraordinary period of time--a singularity, a zero in the denominator. He talks about infinity quite a bit. I understand this as a way to express the implausibility of the position that his culture had come to try to hold, a stance like one of Yeat's theoretical phases--impossible, but conceivable.

I found the sections leading up to Ulrich's sex with Diotima, and that sex scene very powerful. The book really moved up to that point. Then the impetus shifts to his sister. Somewhere, I sense the motivation for the last unfinished part of the book was a more taboo incestual relationship with his sister. It would have been hard to pull off, and so it's not surprising that he got stuck. But getting stuck is certainly part of the pathos in this case--Like Schoenberg getting stuck with Moses und Aron.
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The Man Without Qualities, Vol. 2: Into the Millennium
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