The Sleepwalkersby Hermann Broch, Edwin Muir (Translator), Willa Muir (Translator)
With his epic trilogy, The Sleepwalkers, Hermann Broch established himself as one of the great innovators of modern literature, a visionary writer-philosopher the equal of James Joyce, Thomas Mann, or Robert Musil. Even as he grounded his narratives in the intimate daily life of Germany, Broch was identifying the oceanic changes that would shortly sweep that life into the abyss.
Whether he is writing about a neurotic army officer (The Romantic), a disgruntled bookkeeper and would-be assassin (The Anarchist), or an opportunistic war-deserter (The Relaist), Broch immerses himself in the twists of his characters' psyches, and at the same time soars above them, to produce a prophetic portrait of a world tormented by its loss of faith, morals, and reason.
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Like Musil's, Broch's work has been overlooked. The Sleepwalkers is an astounding work about the collapse of moral sensibility in Germany in the early part of the 20th century (before Hitler). In three parts that are stylistically distinct, he examines his topic from different angles. The first work is straightforward - by the third he used modernist techniques to tell his story. Most highly recommended.
This book is a great read, and a necessary one if one is to understand European literature after Broch. He is probably one of the most influential writers ever, an opinion I share with Kundera.