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The Sleepwalkers Paperback – January 30, 1996

ISBN-13: 978-0679764069 ISBN-10: 0679764062 Edition: 1st Vintage International ed

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 656 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage; 1st Vintage International ed edition (January 30, 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0679764062
  • ISBN-13: 978-0679764069
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 1.1 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #340,247 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Spanning some 20 years, Broch's epic trilogy of daily life in Germany established him as an important modernist innovator.

Copyright 1996 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

Language Notes

Text: English (translation)
Original Language: German

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Customer Reviews

3.8 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

100 of 104 people found the following review helpful By Esther Nebenzahl on November 14, 2000
Format: Paperback
Born in Vienna in 1886, Broch is considered one of the great names of 20th Century German literature. Critics will place him in a pantheon that includes Joyce, Musil, Kafka, Mann, and Proust. Son of a well-off Jewish textile manufacturer (at an early age he converted to Catholicism), Broch had thirst for high intellect. Eventually he gave up his academic plans, his future as an industrialist, in pursuit of literature, through which he would deal with ethical questions and realms of experience rejected by the Vienna Circle of logical positivists. Likewise he devoted his life to the study of mass psychology and politics.
"The Sleepwalkers" (published when the author was 40) is a trilogy, a three-dimensional work with one underlying philosophical unit. The first book, "The Romantic" portrays 19th century realism with von Pasenow as main character, a Prussian aristocrat clinging to ethical values considered outdated. The second book, "The Anarchist," portrays the accountant Esch who is in search of a "balance" of values in unstable pre-war Germany. Both characters will meet in the third book "The Realist," and will find hope in a fanatical religious sect, which foresees the coming of a Redeemer (fascism, Hitler). They will be defeated by Huguenau, an army deserter and opportunist, representing the new ethical standards of a society free of values or to put it correctly "with no values." There are several parallel plots, a number of alienated characters, and cumbrous symbolism. To make things a bit more complex and elaborate, there are 16 chapters of poetry, and 10 chapters (Desintegration of Values) of sound and intensive philosophy.
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36 of 38 people found the following review helpful By "pouria" on December 26, 2000
Format: Paperback
Broch's Trilogy is the chronicle of the evolution of Germany in particular and the whole Europe in general between the years 1888 and 1918. The philosophical focus of the trilogy should be searched for in the third novel, Huguenau or the Realist and within that in the essay 'Disintegration of Values", which is allegedly written by a Bertrand Mueller, who according to Broch himself is the same Bertrand who appears in the first two novels of the trilogy. The essay on disintegration of values closely follows Max Weber's Protestant Ethics and the Spirit of Capitalism. In fact not before we understand Weber's theory of modernity and the role of the protestant reformation in the rise of modern Capitalism can we appreciate the full vigor of Broch's narrative. In ten separate parts, Broch explains masterfully the notion of style of an age, the relation of plastic arts with the the style, the concept of inner logic within each indididual value-system and the effect of it on the life of the individual. The third part of the novel, the realist, is the culmination of the trilogy as such. It is where all the characters meet and it is there that Broch uses all different narrative modes. A certain air of inevitablity is prevalent in Broch's narrative of the disintegration of values, which, in turn, appears to follow a certain Hegelian Historicism. This third novel of the trilogy consists of five separate parts, three of which are stories taking place in a German city near the Belgian borders and the other two are the story of the Salvation Army Girl in Berlin, which is Bertrand Mueller's journal and then his essay on the disintegration of values.Read more ›
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14 of 16 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on February 1, 1998
Format: Paperback
"The Sleepwalkers" deviates from the psychological novel as first conceived in the 19th century and endlessly reincarnated to this day by entering into a new territory where fiction is subserviant to and illustrative of philosophical principles. Thus the task of the reader is to decipher a surface which is at different times prosaic, irrational, symbolic, etc. This is not allegory or fable. The characters and situations are neither two dimensional nor transparently representational of secondary meanings. Rather, the author has let his intended supratext breath through more tangible and specific fictive embodiments. He does this with various success, more often than not needlessly obscuring his meaning by burying it too deeply. It is not as if the reader discovers Broch's meaning for himself so that by the end when it's spelled out in straightforward expository essay form the reader has already come to the same or deeper understanding. In fact, without Broch's plain exposition, contained in chapters entitled "Disintegration of Values," I do not think the narrative fictive segments could stand on their own. Despite this limitation, which I take to be a limitation of the creative imagination at the expense of philosophical exposition, the work offers a vision of modernity that is at core irrefutable and in many aspects unique, making the effort to decipher "The Sleepwalkers" well worth the time.
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Carol L. Emory on April 13, 2008
Format: Paperback
I could not have finished The Sleepwalkers without the able assistance of Amazon reviewers. I assumed that this would be a novel similar to Embers or The Radetzky March. I could not have been more wrong. This is a very complex novel that can be read on many levels, philosophical, moral, and psychological. Regardless of which level you read, The Sleepwalkers is not a novel to take or read lightly. It requires great concentration and will inspire much reverie about modern life, values, and philosophy.

The Sleepwalkers is a trilogy taking place in Prussia and Germany, starting in 1888 and ending in 1918. The first of the trilogy, The Romantic, takes place in 1888 and is about a Prussian aristocrat who adheres to the strict moral code of his forebears, leading to a loveless marriage that his family desires him to make. The second of the trilogy, The Anarchist, involves a bookkeeper struggling to find his place in Cologne and Mannheim in 1903. These two parts are fairly straightforward to read.

The final part of the trilogy, The Realist, is longer and more difficult to read. Taking place in the final year of the First World War, it is a combination of five parts. The most straightforward part concerns an army deserter who settles in a German small town and insinuates himself into their society. He joins The Romantic, now a much older commander, brought forth from retirement to become Town Commandant, and The Anarchist, who has become editor of the local paper. Other fairly straightforward parts involve patients at the town's hospital and an alienated young woman whose husband is away at the war. The final two parts involve a character who has appeared in the other parts of the trilogy, Bertrand, who apparently represented the author himself.
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