From Library Journal
After nearly completing his training as an officer candidate in the Austro-Hungarian Empire's best military academies, Musil completed a degree in civil engineering at Brno and then moved to the University of Berlin, where he studied philosophy and experimental psychology. He spent most of his adult life in Vienna until emigrating to Switzerland in 1938 in flight from the Nazis. There he worked on this massive unfinished novel, which he began in the early 1920s, until he died in 1942. Set on the verge of World War I, the novel revolves around the efforts of Ulrich, the man without qualities, to find meaning in a society in which convention stifles a new era struggling to be born. Experimental in form, the novel virtually eschews plot, relying instead on character studies and essayistic passages. This new translation offers the most complete version yet to appear in English, incorporating all the material published during Musil's life (the first two books and part of the third); the end of the third book, edited by Martha Musil in 1943; and other materials from Musil's posthumous papers relating to the novel. This tighter, more naturally flowing translation is a significant improvement over the first, clearly reproducing Musil's brilliant wit atop the solid foundation of his breathtaking political, social, and psychological insight. Recommended for all literary collections.
Michael T. O'Pecko, Towson State Univ., Md.
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Unfinished novel by Robert Musil, published as Der Mann ohne Eigenschaften in three installments in 1930, 1933, and 1943. Musil's sprawling masterpiece was his life's work. On the surface a witty, urbane portrait of life in the last days of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, the novel is also a tragic farce that gives account of the slow collapse of a society into anarchy and chaos and an indictment of a society that embraced fascism. One of the masterpieces of the age, the book ironically dissects modern uncertainty, sham values, and political folly. -- The Merriam-Webster Encyclopedia of Literature
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