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The Man Without Qualities Vol. 1: A Sort of Introduction and Pseudo Reality Prevails Paperback – December 9, 1996
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Intrusion: A Novel
A loving couple, grieving the loss of their son, finds their marriage in free fall when a beautiful, long-lost acquaintance inserts herself into their lives. Learn More
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From Publishers Weekly
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Top Customer Reviews
There are two opposing tendencies in the novel: On the one hand, Musil offers a highly entertaining satirical portrait of Austria-Hungary right before the First World War. His detached hero Ulrich meets all kinds of bizarre people, who happen to be members of the ruling class of the country. Like a vivisecteur, Ulrich analyzes the philosophies and ideologies of his time. On the other hand, he dreams of a kind of new mysticism, an emotional purity that is opposed to the dross surrounding him; together with his sister he embarks on quest for "the other state of being". Musil never finished the novel, he died before he could achieve a conclusion; which may have been impossible anyway.
This gigantic torso of a novel is arguably the greatest novel of the century. I have not yet come across anything that could rival it. Musil's prose is so precise that after reading a few pages you feel that your mind has been refreshed and cleared. This is not a novel to be read in a few days, but even if you never manage to finish it, you will always come back to it.
Upon reading The Man Without Qualities I was swept up and lost in the tide of the prose, I simply could not stop reading it. Readability is something one doesn't often think of when considering classic foreign novels, one thinks of slow ponderous prose and intense philosophical repose that is dry and too descriptive. Oddly, this is what the new translation is, while the original is divergently witty and full of curiosity and clarity.
Granted, both translations contain the same thoughts, characters and themes. One cannot just toss one aside while fawning over the other. The new edition is indeed more complete a book than the old, but its sacrifice is apparent in how it carries the reader along.
Thus two excerpts: One from the old translation, and the same passage from the new.
"Perhaps not all of these people believe in that stuff about the Devil to whom one can sell one's soul; but all those who have to know something about the soul, because they draw a good income out of it as clergy, historians or artists, bear witness to the fact that it has been ruined by mathematics and that in 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.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I like this book because it gives a nearly contemporaneous analysis of thought and culture at a pivotal moment in Europe. Want to read more.Published 6 months ago by Kjartan Emilsson
I am enjoying it slowly, as it's a wee bit out of my literacy level for "easy reading"...It's a fascinating look at Pre-war Vienna.Published 7 months ago by flowergirl
I remember enjoying the book but as it was some time ago I cannot remember enough of the story line to comment.Published 9 months ago by Carol B
Here’s another entry in the “Novel as navel gazing” category. Or maybe this is better described as a philosophy book that is trying, a little, to be a novel. Read morePublished 11 months ago by A Reader
At present I am 75% through my second reading of MwoQ (once in each English translation) and I sincerely cannot find but one or two ideas of any worth in a thousand pages. Read morePublished 11 months ago by Scott Snyder
Outstanding! One of the essential masterpieces of the 20th Century.Published 11 months ago by Charles P. Dorr
I've been meaning to read this novel for a while now. One of my professors in college was a Robert Musil scholar and he was always saying how he thought it was one of the greatest... Read morePublished 12 months ago by Robert Chang