Posthumous Papers of a Living Author

Overview

Posthumous Papers of a Living Author (1936) collects together short prose and fiction, almost all written between 1920 and 1929, under the headings 'Pictures', 'Ill-tempered Observations' and 'UnStorylike Stories'. It is Musil's most accessible work, the last book he published before his death in 1942, and one conceived as a unified whole. 'Where Proust seeks to crystallize a past, Musil is always pushing through that strange undergrowth to find out, if possible, where he is, where life is tending, and what is ...
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Overview

Posthumous Papers of a Living Author (1936) collects together short prose and fiction, almost all written between 1920 and 1929, under the headings 'Pictures', 'Ill-tempered Observations' and 'UnStorylike Stories'. It is Musil's most accessible work, the last book he published before his death in 1942, and one conceived as a unified whole. 'Where Proust seeks to crystallize a past, Musil is always pushing through that strange undergrowth to find out, if possible, where he is, where life is tending, and what is the explanation ...' wrote V. S. Pritchett of Musil's masterpiece The Man without Qualities. The same search is evident in Posthumous Papers, whether Musil is considering monkeys, monuments, the Oedipus Complex, paintspreaders - 'he is to the painter what the pen-pusher is to the poet' - or the quests in a Roman boarding house. From the first fragment 'Flypaper' to the last story, 'The Blackbird', he writes in satires or parables of phenomenal wit and concentration, illuminating as he observes human life and 'the tiny traits by which it carelessly reveals itself'.
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
Musil’s linguistic facility – the merging of aim, manner and result – is virtuosic. He’s such a consummate stylist that after him Kafka may seem immature, Mann chatty, Brecht arch, Rilke precious and Walter Benjamin hermetic. . . . Peter Wortsman’s translation is splendid, succeeding . . . in capturing this author’s unique combination of quizzical authority andaustere hedonism. —New York Times Book Review

Musil’s originality of mind and perfectionism of temperament are evident throughout these pieces, which range from delicately enameled miniature portraits of the natural world . . . to casual yet trenchant little essays and parables on art, culture, kitsch, psychoanalysis, and even feminism. —Christian Science Monitor

What sense might ‘Musilian’ evoke? Perhaps a tense equilibrium between an exhilarating philosophical intelligence and a certain emotional detach- ment; between a powerfully curious imagination and a soldierly stoicism; between a Viennese worldly skepticism and a mystic’s yearning to penetrate to a ‘mysterious second life.’ —Philip Lopate

Funny, sad and true – or rather funny because they are both sad and true – such observations are, to use a typical Musil phrase, a form of ‘daylight mysticism,’ shafts of light in a darkening world.—Chicago Tribune

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Acclaimed for The Man Without Qualities, a classic German novel of our century, Musil (1880-1942) published this witty collection of ``posthumous'' pieces in 1936. People, life, art and things are their resonant subjects. ``Doors and Portals'' explores these architectural openings in all their primitive and symbolic aspects: gallows, goal posts, entrances and exits denoting status or exclusion. In ``Sarcophagus Cover,'' two ancient monuments, male and female, seem to picnic on the grass near Villa Borghese. Touching vignettes view animals humanly: pathos is wrung from the sight of a fly dying on flypaper, a baby hare torn in the chase, sheep with the ``delicate skulls of martyrs,'' pelted, abused, lamenting in choirs. People-watching provides entertainment in ``Boardinghouse Nevermore,'' about eccentrics at a German pension in Rome, and in ``Binoculars,'' as the narrator peers through his window. The most intensely personal and extended is ``The Blackbird,'' in which the narrator records his experience of war, his mother's death, his reliving of childhood. Precious miniatures wrought from canny observation and a rich sensibility, these 30 charming sketches will please a range of readers. (March)
Library Journal
Best known for his novel The Man Without Qualities , Austrian writer Musil ranks among the great intellectuals of the 20th century. This work, written mostly in the Twenties and first published in 1936, is a collection of satirical stories and essays that ``observe human life in the tiny traits by which it carelessly reveals itself.'' The translation beautifully captures the humor and sublety of the original. Musil's book will be among the first volumes in the Eridanos Library, a series that will introduce the American reader to modern classics of foreign literature heretofore unavailable in English. Highly recommended.Ulrike S. Rettig, Wellesley Coll., Wellesley, Mass.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780976395041
  • Publisher: Steerforth Press
  • Publication date: 6/1/2006
  • Edition number: 2
  • Pages: 179
  • Product dimensions: 5.60 (w) x 6.23 (h) x 0.50 (d)

Table of Contents

Flypaper 3
Monkey Island 6
Fishermen on the Baltic 10
Inflation 12
Can a horse laugh? 14
Awakening 17
Sheep, as seen in another light 19
Sarcophagus cover 21
Rabbit catastrophe 23
The mouse 27
Clearhearing 30
Slovenian village funeral 32
Maidens and heroes 36
Boardinghouse nevermore 38
Black magic 53
Doors and portals 59
Monuments 64
The paintspreader 69
A culture question 73
Surrounded by poets and thinkers 78
Art anniversary 82
Binoculars 87
It's lovely here 95
Who made you, oh forest fair ...? 99
Threatened Oedipus 106
The giant Agoag 113
A man without character 118
A story over three centuries 128
Children's story 136
The blackbird 145
Posthumous papers revisited 171
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