Hollywood Meetup -- "The Man Without Qualities" by Robert Musil

  • December 1, 2012 · 12:30 PM
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I plan to wander through Musil's magnum opus at a leisurely pace.  Any interested readers are welcome to join me every two or three hundred pages along the way at intervals of a month or so.

From the publisher's description:  "Robert Musil was born in Klagenfurt, Austria, in 1880.  Trained in science and philosophy, he left a career in the military to turn to writing.  The publication of his novel, Young Torless in 1906 brought him international recognition; to this day it remains a classic parable on the misuse of power.  After serving in the First World War, Musil lived alternately in Vienna and Berlin, with much of his time being dedicated to the slow writing of his masterpiece, The Man Without Qualities.  In 1938, when Hitler's rise to power threatened Musil's work with being banned in both Austria and Germany, he emigrated to Switzerland, where he and his wife lived until his death in 1942."

From an amazon.com review:  "[I] have trouble believing such a novel (but is it a novel?), devoid of any plot whatsoever and yet so rich, was written by one man only . . . .  Tackling such universal themes as love, death, money, religion, the passing of time, the soul versus reality, what thinking means, what deciding means, what loving means, what writing and reading mean, in short, everything that makes a human being what he is and a society what it is, and doing so in a language marked by elegance and irony, Musil has undoubtedly written one of the few universal masterpieces of western literature . . . .  There is a life before and a life after Musil's Man without Qualities, and I much prefer the latter."

Serious fans of Musil prefer the original English translation by Eithne Wilkins and Ernst Kaiser to the more recent translation by Sophie Wilkins and Burton Pike.  Unfortunately, the former is harder to purchase, though more likely to be on a library shelf.

We will meet at Pimai Restaurant at 12:30 p.m. Pimai is located in a small strip mall at the intersection of Franklin Avenue and Canyon Drive, across the street from the Gelson's Market, less than a mile from downtown Hollywood and only a few blocks from the 101 Freeway. There is plenty of parking on Canyon Drive within a block of the restaurant. Please resist the temptation to park in the Gelson's lot. You may be towed.

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  • A former member
    A former member

    Yes was fun. hope others can join. Getting thru it and yes Musil, like Joyce is critiquing the modern world and it's people.

    "he, too, naturally has a sense of reality; but it is a sense of possible reality…He wants the forest, as it were, and the others the trees"

    And I think from a journal or something :

    "We do not have too much intellect and not enough soul, rather we do have enough intellect in questions of the soul...we do not think about and do not act in connexion with our self."

    December 4, 2012

  • Alise

    Great conversation. I look forward to getting further into the book and discussing it in more depth with the group at the next meeting. Tuck, thanks for referring me to Heimito Von Doderer. I'll definitely check him out.

    December 2, 2012

  • A former member
    A former member

    Dunno if this is too philosophical. The first paragraph is a metaphor for the world, heavens, sky, and universe (Atlas) : it suffers from depression. It came from the west and even has made its way to the north (Hyperborea).

    For those that want to know why, it'll take a bit of philosophy. Like volume 1 of the book has 34 mentions of Nietzsche.

    November 23, 2012

  • Patricia A.

    Sounds quite interesting, but might be a bit over my head if it's too intellectual. I'll check it out on my Kindle.

    October 25, 2012

  • A former member
    A former member

    Love it. btw, Blanchot's stuff about it, in Le livre à venir (The Book to Come), is really interesting.

    October 16, 2012

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