Show Less
Restricted access

A Diagnosis of Modern Life

Robert Musil’s "Der Mann ohne Eigenschaften </I>as a Critical-Utopian Project

Stijn De Cauwer

Robert Musil’s Der Mann ohne Eigenschaften is not only a towering masterpiece of German literature but also an impressively rich and razor-sharp assessment of life in the beginning of the twentieth century. Musil can be regarded as one of the most original and hard-hitting cultural critics of his time. This book explores in detail the cultural critique at work in Der Mann ohne Eigenschaften. Firstly, the place of morality and ideology in Musil’s critique is explained and how his writings function as an ideology critique. Secondly, the question of Musil’s utopianism is clarified. His utopianism is not a future or ideal place but an increased awareness of the possibilities in the present, opened up by the process of critique. Thirdly, the function of the ‘pathological’ in Der Mann ohne Eigenschaften is analyzed. Musil’s novel was meant to be an intervention into a condition which he compared to a pathological affliction. Finally, this book takes up the difficult question of whether Musil’s analysis and original ideas still have relevance today.
Show Summary Details
Restricted access

Introduction: The Cultural Critique of Robert Musil

Extract

| 15 →

Introduction

The Cultural Critique of Robert Musil

1. Robert Musil as a Cultural Theorist

After Musil’s death in 1942, it took several decades for his masterpiece Der Mann ohne Eigenschaften to receive the attention it merits, mainly due to its unfinished state and overwhelming scope and complexity. Nowadays the novel is acknowledged as a modernist classic that has its place in the canon of the greatest literature of the twentieth century, next to Joyce, Proust or Kafka. In 1999, Der Mann ohne Eigenschaften was voted as the most important German-language novel of the century by a jury of 99 German writers and scholars, before classics like Der Zauberberg or Der Prozess.

You are not authenticated to view the full text of this chapter or article.

This site requires a subscription or purchase to access the full text of books or journals.

Do you have any questions? Contact us.

Or login to access all content.