Abailart's Reviews > The Man Without Qualities: Vol. 1

The Man Without Qualities by Robert Musil
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May 09, 2008

it was amazing
Read in May, 2008

There are different kinds of funny. The category this book fits into includes having a smile on the face throughout, bursts of hilarity, and that serious use of comedy which reveals the absurdity of human behaviour. Written un the context of thickening fascist Europe, it's a remarkable mirror on life today. So easily the lusts of genitals, power and cruelty blend seamlessly with lofty idealisms. Entire schools of philosophy are ridiculed gently, or more accurately what is ridiculed is the nugatory uptake of these civilised markers by bourgeois minds that deal with neat snippets of unthreatening and watered down niceness. In some ways reminiscent of Mann's The Magic Mountain, here the delusions of historical intervention into an ideology of progress are a key focus.
As today, the loss of values gives rise to absurd metaphysical beliefs in the soul, the lofty spirit, the future, the past, science and rationalism, irrationlism, superstition, pompous pontificating, the maintenance of a savage social order, all the necessary elements of fascism, and something hovering my absence (without qualities) that may provide hope but of which it would be folly to write for all that is written and thought is ossified into trinkets and ornaments.
I shall now buy the complete work, including the incomplete Volumes, for less than ten pounds, and delight in reading Volume 1 again. Oh joy, and what a find is Musil.
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Quotes Abailart Liked

Robert Musil
“…. by the time they have reached the middle of their life’s journey, few people remember how they have managed to arrive at themselves, at their amusements, their point of view, their wife, character, occupation and successes, but they cannot help feeling that not much is likely to change anymore. It might even be asserted that they have been cheated, for one can nowhere discover any sufficient reason for everything’s coming about as it has. It might just have well as turned out differently. The events of people’s lives have, after all, only to the last degree originated in them, having generally depended on all sorts of circumstances such as the moods, the life or death of quite different people, and have, as it were, only at the given point of time come hurrying towards them”
Robert Musil, The Man Without Qualities: Vol. 1


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