Musil Diaries

Musil Diaries

by Robert Musil, Mark Mirsky, Philip Payne
     
 

Robert Musil is ranked alongside Marcel Proust and James Joyce for his monumental, unfinished novel, The Man Without Qualities. His Diaries, a distillation of forty-three years of material, are valuable in a number of ways: as a first-hand historical document of life in twentieth-century central Europe, as a kind of unwitting autobiography of a great novelist,

Overview


Robert Musil is ranked alongside Marcel Proust and James Joyce for his monumental, unfinished novel, The Man Without Qualities. His Diaries, a distillation of forty-three years of material, are valuable in a number of ways: as a first-hand historical document of life in twentieth-century central Europe, as a kind of unwitting autobiography of a great novelist, and as a writer's notebook that details the moods of artistic adventure.Readers will gain keen insights into Musil's passage from scientist, to soldier, to novelist, in honest passages that reveal the man in all his humor, ambition, frustration, and transcendence.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
In the "Posthumous Papers" section of Burton Pike's impressive two-volume edition of Musil's Man Without Qualities (1995) is a chapter titled "Agathe Finds Ulrich's Diary." One passage reads: "The notes that she took up in her hands, with many things crossed out, loosely connected and not always easily decipherable, immediately imposed a slower tempo on her passionate curiosity." This is likely to be the reaction of fans of this great Viennese modernist to his diaries. Although Musil briefly considered working these into publishable form, basically they were aide-memoires to books, a passing scene, a name, an archetype or the outlines of unrealized projects. Musil was immensely attuned to intellectual and artistic (and, to a lesser extent, political) currents, but he adapted everything to his own aesthetic, ethical system. While there are descriptions of sensory experiences (the smell of his mother's chinchilla is "a smell like snow in the air mingled with a little camphor"), there is relatively little indication of his everyday life--his days in the cafe, for example, or his chronic financial troubles. The notebooks from his early 20s are those of a young Viennese intellectual infatuated with Nietzsche and eroticism, but over time Musil matured. In 1920, he bemoans the "maliciousness of Fate that it gave Nietzsche and socialism to one and the same age," and eventually his sexual preoccupations are overshadowed by a lyrical wistfulness for "the golden `fruit of the fig' on the white sheet.... The greenish-blue blanket beneath it. The gaslight.... The black hair on the white pillow." In this evolution, and in his relentless self-appraisal, Musil's admirers can see the evolution of a truly "ratioid" man. (Nov.)
Booknews
A secret look into the life and mind of Musil, whose fiction embodies one of the 20th century's daring leaps of consciousness. Sketches, anecdotes, and personal reflections provide insight into how the writer challenged himself to think about a reality beyond the world that could be apprehended by logic, to entertain the possibilities of forbidden eroticism, to imagine the hidden mystical life of Fascist Europe, and to turn the question of sexual gender into the puzzle of identity. Selections from the diaries are based on the 1976 German edition, Tagebucher (edited by Adolf Frise) Annotation c. by Book News, Inc., Portland, Or.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780465016518
Publisher:
Basic Books
Publication date:
12/01/1999
Pages:
624
Product dimensions:
7.38(w) x 9.25(h) x (d)
Lexile:
1070L (what's this?)

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