Robert Musil's 'The Man Without Qualities': A Critical Study (Cambridge Studies in German)

By Philip Payne

Robert Musil's the fellow with no features could be crucial novel in German written within the 20th century - definitely it truly is one of the such a lot tremendous, perplexing and profound. This, the 1st finished learn of the paintings to seem in English, courses the reader in the direction of Musil's principal issues. It examines how Musil laboured via draft after draft to supply fabric that will cross his personal strict literary 'quality control' and strains significant issues via varied layers of narrative by using shut textual research. It info how Musil topics major figures of fin-de-siecle Vienna to extreme ironic scrutiny and the way, by way of drawing on his broad wisdom of philosophy, psychology, politics, sociology and technology, he works into his novel essayistic statements which checklist the kingdom of latest ecu civilisation. via a demanding and deeply critical liaison along with his sister, Musil's hero Ulrich, is proven to wade through to the threshold of self-discovery and enlightenment.

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In different phrases, the narrator exhibits us that, for Diotima, falling in love is a method distorted by means of her self-image; even this worthy event is subordinated to ambition. The narrator now turns back to Ulrich who's with Bonadea, looking ahead to her to decorate. His brain leaps again to the time in early manhood whilst he had fallen ecstatically in love. The distinction along with his current scenario is entire. Then he had felt no 'desire for ownership' (123) and certainly his love opened up totally in simple terms whilst he had left the loved, a major's spouse, and journeyed to a distant island many miles away. There he skilled love as a kingdom of mystical oneness with production: He had stumbled on himself on the middle of the realm; from the place he used to be to the far away family member used to be simply so far as to the following tree; inwardness associated beings with out house, altering all their relationships, simply as beings go through one another in a dream with out merging. yet in a different way this country had not anything to do with dreaming. It was once transparent and brimming with transparent options; yet not anything approximately it used to be relocating in the direction of reason, function and actual hope yet every thing was once extending in a relentless succession of circles, as while an unending jet of water falls right into a basin. (125) The narrator's description of Diotima's ardour for Arnheim had a powerful section of satire; this account of Ulrich's first event of affection may well scarcely be extra lyrical - there isn't any hint of satire or irony, fairly a feeling of deep dedication at the narrator's half right here love is natural, excessive, stuck in its pristine kingdom earlier than it really is channelled into the mold of personality. therefore, in the area of some chapters, we're provided Musil's 'metamorphoses of love': love as a calculation which the narrator treats with satirical scorn, love as sensuality, to which the narrator turns out detached, and love as ecstatic lack of self, for which the narrator turns out to have a profound sympathy. therefore whilst Arnheim and Diotima meet for the 1st time in deepest the. narrator has awarded a couple of diverse vantage issues from which the growth in their affair can be tested. whilst the 1st accumulating of the Tarallelaktion' ends, Arnheim waits until eventually the opposite site visitors have left in order that he should be on my own with Diotima. Neither has skilled a second like this prior to. however the temper is disturbed, from Diotima's viewpoint, by way of the stirring sixty seven 'The guy with no traits' of an 'alien' emotion: she can't forget about that this assembly is spiced with imprecise sexual imaginings: '[Diotima's] chastity [was] burdened via a relatively unaccustomed proposal; her emptied condominium, within the absence of her husband, appeared to her like a couple of trousers which Arnheim had wear' (183). yet Diotima is aware the way to continue uncouth feeling instead. She easily clothes it up as whatever else, readmitting it to her salon disguised as 'the marvellous dream of a love the place physique and soul are thoroughly one' (183)! hence the narrator demonstrates the level of Diotima's emotional dishonesty. there is not any recommendation that Arnheim senses the sexual ambiguity of the current scenario.

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