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The Man Without Qualities: Vol. 2

(The Man Without Qualities #2)

4.37  ·  Rating details ·  909 ratings  ·  74 reviews
" Musil belongs in the company of Joyce, Proust, Kafka, and Svevo. . . . (This translation) is a literay and intellectual event of singular importance." --New Republic.
Paperback, 1072 pages
Published December 9th 1996 by Vintage (first published 1933)
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Collier Brown
Jan 21, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: home-inventory
One of the most well-read men I’ve ever known died a few years ago at the age of 104. His name was Daniel Aaron. He was a cofounder of the Library of America and taught literature first at Smith, then at Harvard where he kept an office long after retirement. In fact, to the day of his passing, you’d find him behind his desk, editing his commonplace books [abridged and published by Wafer Press].

When a centenarian—whose years overlapped twenty-six presidential terms, who witnessed some of the most
Note: Volume II of the newer Pike/Wilkins translation and Volume II of the older Wilkins/Kaiser translation do not cover the same material. This review is for the later.

From the first time I heard it, the title, The Man Without Qualities, struck me as surreptitiously suggestive of some vital meaning that I could only find behind the cover on which it was written. And perhaps it was all of my previous reading experience that then subtly bade me to wean my expectations from this promise. For that
Vit Babenco
Dec 28, 2016 rated it it was amazing
“What we still refer to as a personal destiny is being displaced by collective processes that can finally be expressed in statistical terms.”
The main character – the man without qualities – continues to rebel against conformity and uniformity…
“…he had been annoyed countless times by his contemporaries’ capacity for enthusiasms, which almost invariably fasten on the wrong object and so end up destroying even what indifference has let survive.”
And he literally hates social conventionalities and
Lee Klein
Apr 16, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: put-down-for-now
Putting it down for now at the end of the chapters published during Musil's life -- that is, before the onslaught of 600+ pages of posthumous papers. If Volume II maintained Volume I's towering literary artistry (TLA), I'd read all the drafts and notes etc, but I need a break from so much talk and talk and talk and talk about morality and willpower and the soul and action and the science of thought and feelings and stuff. All these ideas were animated and elevated and entangled in the first ...more
Stephen P
Jul 20, 2013 rated it it was amazing
It happens after the transfer. The tedium, then the lurking state of thought-rush, irretrievable perceptions. It may be for three minutes or many hours. I no longer live in time. I am alone in the small cottage. It isn't that I have anything to prove. Simply, I want to be alone with my thoughts. The absence of the weight of another person's unspoken ideas became important. Oppression has become my medium.
The transfer occurs in stages. It must be thought out first. Each stage etched into the
Mar 20, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: deutch
divine madness

that day in an early month of 2005 i took a high-speed train to heidelberg. my traveling companion was tmwq. the people in the coupe looked a bit gruesome to that book. oh yeah tmwq... after checking in a hotel i did a walk on the boxberg that is basically max planck institute dominion. in the evening looking out of the window of the hotel this is what i saw. the sky was blue at the bottom and pink on top. some fluffy clouds and birds gave it deepness and a private jet gave it even
Aug 21, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
With the exception of the second part of the posthumous papers (which I intend to browse over time), I've finished. I don't know how Musil could have finished this novel but the ample material he provided us is enough to make it worthy of comparison to Joyce and Mann.
The galley chapters are worth reading and the selections from Ulrich's journal on emotions are absolutely brilliant.
I am somewhat saddened by having reached my endpoint in reading this book since I feel as though, even after
Luís C.
Gisela Kaufmann holding brilliantly, against wind and tide in 20 years the bookshop Buchladen, Parisian place devoted to German literature often notes with some sadness that now, behind a media chatter, the French will no longer really interested to this literature. If Kafka quote could still be very decorative in a conversation, most of his books were sleeping on the shelves without ever being read. As if talking about Musil and his Man Without Qualities was still very rewarding in so-called ...more
Jul 30, 2018 added it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to David by: Jeff Bursey
I read the whole sequence on the recommendation of Jeff Bursey. Probably a good 20 years ago now.
Wes Allen
Dec 14, 2018 rated it really liked it
Review of Volumes I and II

The Man Without Qualities represents the pinnacle of modernism, ranking alongside Thomas Mann’s The Magic Mountain as one of the 20th century’s most poignant works. Though unlikely to equal Mann in recognition, Robert Musil deserves the attention of anyone fond of heady, long, and dense literature.

As anyone who’s read the book (or maybe just a summary) can tell you, The Man Without Qualities is dubbed “a novel of ideas.” Adumbrating just what ideas are found therein is
Jul 25, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: philosophy
this is undoubtedly the most underrated book i have ever read in my entire life. amazing. i must have underlined somethign thought provoking on every second page.
Can one finish a book that itself is unfinished? I've stopped reading in the fourth book, feeling that I was going where the novel itself had not gone -- through a final editing to a finished or abandoned work. Here we're approaching the territory of the well-known idea that a novel is never finished, it's simply abandoned. Thus death prevented Robert Musil from getting The Man Without Qualities to the point of abandonment.

So I'll say a bit about the parts he abandoned to print during his
Sep 26, 2008 rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction
On second read, this volume is much less interesting and enjoyable than the first. Musil's wonderful sarcasm and almost bitter humor are nearly absent and he grapples with "big questions" with much less grace.
Sep 26, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Anyone interested in literature's supreme intellectual challenge
There is more on a single page of this masterpiece than most novels hold in their entireties. It is a work of unparalleled genius (so don't ask what it's about, as I would not be able to say).
Jon Norimann
Jul 10, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: classics
Volume two of Musil's Masterpiece is slightly more focused than vol 1. Other than that its mostly more of the same. The hero, Ulrich, walks through life commenting on daily events. It becomes a literary version of the TV series Seinfeld, mostly about "nothing". Musil does have some original ideas and choice of words here and there but to me it overall just becomes many pages of rather dull musings.
Dec 04, 2017 rated it really liked it
“…By connecting no idea or every idea with myself, I got out of the habit of taking life seriously. I get much more out of it when I read about it in a novel, where it’s wrapped up in some point of view, but when I’m supposed to experience it in all its fullness it always seems already obsolete, overdone in an old-fashioned way, and intellectually outdated.”
Mike Polizzi
Aug 10, 2018 rated it it was amazing
“...when the rubble of ‘ineffectual feelings,’ which every period bequeaths to the next, has grown into mountains without anything being done about it. So the War Ministry can sit back and serenely wait the next mass catastrophe.”

I still have the Posthumous Papers to read, but the second volume draws the elements from the first into stark relief, the meandering path of thought and feelings builds and builds, a combinative essay of narrative voices, intelligent fully observed and realized -
Oct 06, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Musil's continuation of 'The Man Without Qualities' takes us even deeper into the turn of the century continental psyche. Ulrich and Agathe deliberate both the will and legacy of their late father as well as the nature of morality, human sexuality, and perhaps the unconscious. There are extraordinary additions to Musil's elaborate cathedral of ideas and characters, such as the brief visit to the asylum to meet Moosbrugger, the intriguing murderer and psychopath that haunts the imaginations of ...more
Jan 17, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-2012
Well, I could no more ever really "finish" reading the material in this volume than the benighted Musil could finish writing his novel. It's an exercise in fascination and frustration unparalleled in my reading experience. The rich exploration of consciousness and how to live in a de-centered world continues but the story spins toward total entropy as the impossibility of what Musil was trying to imagine looms larger. Yet, as some insightful critics have recognized, he was on to something that ...more
Bruno Kos
Mar 18, 2016 rated it liked it
Maybe I'm not smart enough for books of this kind, or maybe I'm just the one who says that "the Emperor is naked", but I will put this book into the same shelf as War and Peace - 1300+ pages of nothing that could satisfy me or keep me interested. And I really tried to focus.

Musil has been writing this book for 20 years or so and never finished it. I agree with people who said that his books are "missing something". He was a demanding author and wanted to create books that are way too
May 13, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Anything I would say is not up to the task. A book like nothing else I have ever read. A daunting, but rewarding read. Not a short walk around the block for sure, but worth every minute.

Among other things, a long exploration of contradictions, opposites, disjointed pairings, truth found at polar opposites....

One of those books I know will stick in my head for a long, long time to come.
Sep 20, 2010 added it
It's still unfinished - like Schubert
Josh Friedlander
Volume 2 is for the fans, with the novel ending halfway and then about 600 pages of drafts, notes and rough chapters. (Apparently the German edition has thousands, on a supplementary CD.) Actually, all of this - along with some notes from the translator - is quite helpful in understanding where Musil was going with this large, saggy haystack of a novel, and what he intended it to mean. Also, once you slog through the sometimes interminable Ulrich-Agathe dialogues where they talk in circles and ...more
Al Maki
May 25, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: story
It's enormous. It's unfinished and probably could not have been finished. It's at times hilarious and frequently boring. I think it's one of a kind so it's difficult to explain what it's like but if Thomas Pynchon's sensibility had somehow travelled through time and occupied the mind of Aldous Huxley he might have written something not too dissimilar. Like Pynchon, the shaggy dog story seems to be the basic structure of the plot; like Huxley the characters are inclined to spend dozens of pages ...more
Diarmaid de Paor
Jul 23, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A long (over 2,000 pages in the version I read) and very interesting book. A difficult book - I'm not sure? But, maybe we'll leave the comment on that to the author who says:
"It is not an easy and not a difficult book, for that depends entirely on the reader"

Is it a pity that it's not finished? In some ways it would have been nice to be able to read the completed work Musil intended. However that would have meant losing some fascinating insights into how he went about constructing the book and
Aug 05, 2018 rated it really liked it
This one took a while. I had to set it down and read something else every now and then. It's long, but the major problem was that this edition includes all the unfinished sections and Musil's notes. Well, they do add to the book for sure, but one ends up reading different versions of the same chapters and totally inconsistent story lines, so that takes a toll. All in all, Vol. 2 was not as enjoyable as Vol. 1. But really, it's just quite different. Here, the main story line is the one between ...more
Christian Schwoerke
I spent all of March 2017 reading this translation of Musil's masterwork (Eithne Wilkins and Ernst Kaiser, 1954) alongside the latest translation by Sophie Wilkins, 1995. After a staggered start, I overlapped two chapters in one, then two chapters in the other, always re-reading a chapter I'd just finished in the "other" version.

A brilliant novel depicting a time and place via a multitude of characters, upon which floats the strange disaffected character of the Man Without Qualities. While
Apr 26, 2018 rated it really liked it
honestly? this volume is like guermantes way but. more of a slog. i have glazed over so many times. why is it so long. i get it? but? why is it so long. cmon volume 3 u best save this situation cos i am Exhausted.
Tim Berge
Jun 12, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Not enough stars available
Sankalp Srivastava
Oct 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing
One of the best books I've ever read. I'll probably read it again.
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Austrian writer.

He graduated military boarding school at Eisenstadt (1892-1894) and then Hranice, in that time also known as Mährisch Weißkirchen, (1894-1897). These school experiences are reflected in his first novel - The confusions of young Törless.

He served in army during The First World War. When Austria became a part of the Third Reich in 1938, Musil left for exile in Switzerland, where he

Other books in the series

The Man Without Qualities (3 books)
  • The Man Without Qualities: Volume I (1/2)
  • The Man Without Qualities: Vol 3
“Even in his greatest dedication to science he had never managed to forget that people's goodness and beauty come from what they believe, not from what they know.” 20 likes
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