Robert Musil and His Critics
A study of the shifts of critical opinion on Musil, with special reference to The Man Without Qualities.
Austrian writer Robert Musil (1880-1942) ranks with Proust, Joyce, Kafka and Thomas Mann as a master of the modern prose narrative; his works encompass a wide range of theoretical and aesthetic impulses, ranging from Nietzsche toMach, from Gestalt theory to Freudian psychoanalysis. This volume traces the scholarly reception of Musil's works, marked by discontinuities and abrupt shifts of perception. At the beginning of his career, Musil was stereotyped asan author primarily interested in morally questionable 'psychological' issues, before being plunged into near oblivion by his exile, forced by National Socialism. After the Second World War he was 'rediscovered', but the development of Musil studies was severely hampered by the inability to determine an authoritative edition of his unfinished masterpiece, Der Mann ohne Eigenschaften (The Man without Qualities), 1930-43. Professor Rogowski shows howsuccessive generations of scholars have appropriated Musil for their own ends, constructing a bewildering and often contradictory array of images of the author according to their own ideological and methodological biases, and howthis multitude of different perspectives corresponds with changes in German studies and historical developments over the past four decades. In so doing, he sheds new light on Musil's paradoxical status as, in the words of Frank Kermode, 'the least read of the great twentieth-century novelists'. CHRISTIAN ROGOWSKI is assistant professor of German at Amherst College.
"With Distinguished Outsider Christian Rogowski has offered both specialists and non-specialists an invaluable aid. In under 200 pages the volume outlines a general history of Musil criticism in four significant phases and then goes on to discuss the criticism of individual works in seven chapters. It is much to the author's credit that he is able to render concisely the primary methodological concerns and insights of a wide array of critics, but more remarkable is the fact that he creates a very readable narrative." MONATSHEFTE