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Robert Musil's Intellectual Affinities

by Brett Martz (Volume editor) Todd Cesaratto (Volume editor)
©2017 Conference proceedings 238 Pages
Series: Musiliana, Volume 17

Summary

In German-speaking modernity, Robert Musil may lay the last valid claim to the title of Universalgenie. Trained as a soldier, engineer, philosopher, and psychologist, he did not shy from investigations beyond his accredited purview. His work repurposes the conceptual inventories of literature, philosophy, science, law, medicine, politics, education, etc. to revisit classical questions of beauty, truth, and morality within an ultra-complex modern context. The answers he finds are not conclusive but suggestive and always invite re-examination. Musil studies, at its best, embraces his practice of multivalent inquiry, and the present essay collection endeavors to follow suit. Drawing from Musil’s fiction, essays, letters, diaries, and public addresses, the authors of this volume offer unexpected treatments of ideas that Musil examined and reveal previously overlooked links between those ideas and other authors, works, and movements. The contributions have a footing in fields such as psychology, sociology, and statistics; cover concepts like humor, identity, and love; and deal with literary epochs or theories ranging from Romanticism and Modernity to decadence and reader response.

Table Of Contents

  • Cover
  • Title
  • Copyright
  • About the author
  • About the book
  • This eBook can be cited
  • Table of contents
  • Editors’ Preface
  • Eine menschliche Moderne? Robert Musils Versuch einer neuen Synthese auf dem Boden der Gestaltpsychologie (Birthe Hoffmann)
  • Von der Gefühlspsychologie zur Poetologie der „Stimmung“. Musils Weiterschreiben von Carl Stumpf (Sergej Rickenbacher)
  • Musil wiederbegegnet: Verführung als Interpretationsinstrument in Vereinigungen (Agnieszka Hudzik)
  • „…sie fühlten alle diesen Dritten um sich stehen“. Wie sich die Figur des Dritten zur Liebe verhält in Robert Musils Frühwerk (Friederike Schläfer)
  • Statistics and the Novel: Robert Musil and Richard von Mises (Florence Vatan)
  • Habsburg Loyalties as Intellectual Affinities: Non-National Allegiances in Robert Musil and Bernard Bolzano (Salvatore Pappalardo)
  • Der Fall Homo: Musil’s Grigia and Nietzsche’s Der Fall Wagner (Brett Martz)
  • Humor, Musil + the Romantics (Todd Cesaratto)
  • Authors
  • Series index

Robert Musil’s Intellectual Affinities

Brett Martz and Todd Cesaratto (eds.)

About the author

Brett Martz is an Assistant Professor of German and Program Coordinator of Modern Languages at Longwood University in Farmville, Virginia. He serves as the current president of the Virginia Chapter of the American Association of Teachers of German. He has published or presented on reader response as well as the relationships between literature and science.

Todd Cesaratto moved to Vienna, after two Visiting Assistant Professorships in the U.S., to work as Senior Communications Manager for Mondi, a global packaging and paper company. Walking the streets Musil once did, he continues writing about the positive outcomes that a sense of possibility, humor, and heroism make possible. On Musil he has published “Von Ketten’s Climb: Making a Mark in Robert Musil’s ‘Die Portugiesin’” and “Politik durch Gefühlseinsatz: General Stumm von Bordwehr in ‘Der Mann ohne Eigenschaften’”, in Terror and Erlösung. Robert Musil und der Gewaltdiskurs der Zwischenkriegszeit.

About the book

comIn German-speaking modernity, Robert Musil may lay the last valid claim to the title of Universalgenie. Trained as a soldier, engineer, philosopher, and psychologist, he did not shy from investigations beyond his accredited purview. His work repurposes the conceptual inventories of literature, philosophy, science, law, medicine, politics, education, etc. to revisit classical questions of beauty, truth, and morality within an ultra-complex modern context. The answers he finds are not conclusive but suggestive and always invite re-examination. Musil studies, at its best, embraces his practice of multivalent inquiry, and the present essay collection endeavors to follow suit. Drawing from Musil’s fiction, essays, letters, diaries, and public addresses, the authors of this volume offer unexpected treatments of ideas that Musil examined and reveal previously overlooked links between those ideas and other authors, works, and movements. The contributions have a footing in fields such as psychology, sociology, and statistics; cover concepts like humor, identity, and love; and deal with literary epochs or theories ranging from Romanticism and Modernity to decadence and reader response.

This eBook can be cited

This edition of the eBook can be cited. To enable this we have marked the start and end of a page. In cases where a word straddles a page break, the marker is placed inside the word at exactly the same position as in the physical book. This means that occasionally a word might be bifurcated by this marker.

Editors’ Preface

Getting to know Robert Musil combines moments of joy with moments of strain. Being his friend is not easy work. He hints that he is aware of this situation, that he even approves of and perpetuates it by creating characters who cannot handle this type of friendship: Walter in Der Mann ohne Eigenschaften, Aeins in Die Amsel, the fat friend from “Ein/ Der Mensch ohne Character.” Failed relationships belong to the markers he uses to paint around a vast undetermined space where affinity can take root and thrive on truthful, austere, yet ultimately generous exchanges. Through such mechanisms Musil chose and continues to choose his company carefully. He sought the unlikeliest conversation partners, and he clearly knew he would never sit in the same room with them: “Sometimes I wanted to write letters to a young man who lived eighty to one hundred years after me. Instead of that have them addressed to a young American alive now” (Tb 1 806). The contributors feel addressed by Musil and are indeed responding roughly eighty years later and/or from America. Our studies are situated on the field of affinity that Musil stakes out, and they are intended to enrich existing intellectual friendships and encourage new ones.

This volume emerges from a series of panels held at the thirty-ninth annual German Studies Association conference, which was held near Washington DC. It also still shares the same title as the panel series, Musil’s Intellectual Affinities. When we concocted the idea, we had hoped to hear from scholars who were working on previously unexplored connections between Musil and any intellectual predecessor, contemporary, or successor. The field of Musil studies has been receptive to such comparative approaches, be they on Kant, Husserl, or Luhmann. Our panel’s intent was to add new names and ideas to this ever expanding roster of intellectual peers or to revisit established connections in search of new insight. Our call for papers elicited a substantial response, which allowed us to curate three full panels spanning the entire conference weekend. It was encouraging to see that the←7 | 8→ strong general interest in our topic also came from a diverse international research community.

That being said, we should note that Musil scholarship in the United States and the support thereof is not as prolific vis-à-vis its European counterparts. This however is a product of circumstance rather than necessity. In Europe, traditional philology continues to inform literary scholarship to a much stronger degree than in the U.S., where approaches to the lives and works of literary figures often betray a strong ideological inflection. It follows then that Musil, who famously resisted ideological instrumentalization – and in his textual afterlife continues to do so – will find less traction in America. The materiality of the enterprise plays a role as well: thousand-plus-page texts are seldom read, taught, or written. The intellectual marketplace offers very little room for such activities at the moment. Despite these and other obstacles, we were delighted to demonstrate that market trends can be bucked and that there is indeed high, if unobtrusive demand for Musil in the U.S. The 2015 GSA featured as many panels dedicated to Musil as to graphic novels! Certainly, good work is being done in this field, but who would argue that it’s harder to sell comics than Musil products?

We would therefore like to thank every scholar who was interested enough to respond to our call for papers. We thank all of our presenters as well as the GSA for allowing us to hold three panels. We would like to thank all of the contributors to this volume for their patience, flexibility, and extra interest in nurturing this project to completion. Finally, we would also like to thank Longwood University for its generous support.

Details

Pages
238
Year
2017
ISBN (PDF)
9783034330947
ISBN (ePUB)
9783034330954
ISBN (MOBI)
9783034330961
ISBN (Softcover)
9783034321150
DOI
10.3726/b11594
Language
English
Publication date
2018 (September)
Keywords
Robert Musil Philosophy Literary Criticism Psychology Modernity Identity Humor Love
Published
Bern, Bruxelles, Frankfurt am Main, New York, Oxford, Warszawa, Wien, 2017. 238 S.

Biographical notes

Brett Martz (Volume editor) Todd Cesaratto (Volume editor)

Brett Martz is an Assistant Professor of German and Program Coordinator of Modern Languages at Longwood University in Farmville, Virginia. He serves as the current president of the Virginia Chapter of the American Association of Teachers of German. He has published or presented on reader response as well as the relationships between literature and science. Todd Cesaratto moved to Vienna, after two Visiting Assistant Professorships in the U.S., to work as Senior Communications Manager for Mondi, a global packaging and paper company. Walking the streets Musil once did, he continues writing about the positive outcomes that a sense of possibility, humor, and heroism make possible.

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Title: Robert Musil's Intellectual Affinities