Saturday, June 17, 2006

Robert Musil's "The Man without Qualities"

The Man without Qualities by Robert Musil is the subject of the latest installment from Jane Smiley's Thirteen Ways of Looking at the Novel; see here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here for previous entries.

Smiley writes:
This is one of the most prestigious novels of the 20th century; the sort of book no one has read but everyone has heard of. It is well worth reading, even though it is very long, very slow, and was unfinished at the time of Robert Musil's death. The first volume of The Man without Qualities runs to 365 pages, and the dilemma of the protagonist, Ulrich, is presented only on about page 300. Nevertheless, the writing is so precise and the argument Musil makes about Ulrich and his situation so intricate that it is intellectually and aesthetically involving even before it becomes emotionally so.
To read the rest of Smiley's essay, click here.

--Marshal Zeringue