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Musil, Robert

world qualities military

(Austrian, 1880–1942)

Born in Klagenfurt, Austria, Robert Musil trained as a military officer, a scientist, and a philosopher before coming to his vocation as a novelist. He wrote stories, fables, and two plays, but is best known as the author of The Man without Qualities (1930–43), a lifelong work regarded as one of the masterpieces of European literature, despite remaining unfinished at Musil's death. A sprawling, tragi-comic portrait of the last days of the Austro-Hungarian empire, The Man without Qualities (published in Britain 1953–60) begins on the eve of the First World War. Ulrich, a man determined to keep his distance from the idiocies he sees in the world around him, is contrasted with the figure of Moosbrugger, a charming murderer who represents the forces of chaos lurking beneath the civilized surfaces of society. An earlier novel, Young Torless (1906), is a fictional account of Musil's experience at military school.

Henry James, Thomas Mann, Franz Kafka. See GERMANY  WB

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