The Critical Response to Robert Musil's The Man without Qualities

July 2003
195 pages
9x6 in
Literary Criticism in Perspective
ISBN: 9781571131171
Format: Hardback
Library eBook
Camden House

The Critical Response to Robert Musil's The Man without Qualities

Tim Mehigan

A study of the most significant international scholarship on Musil's famous novel.
The Austrian writer Robert Musil ranks among the foremost novelists of the 20th century. Despite a series of lesser but well-regarded shorter works, his literary reputation rests almost entirely on his novel Der Mann ohne Eigenschaften (The Man without Qualities), a life-work in the truest sense, which became the focus of all his energies and thinking from 1924 until his death in 1942. This study analyzes the principal trends in scholarship on the novel from the 1960s to the present. It contrasts earlier criticism, which foregrounded the eponymous central character's search for identity against the background of subject theory or mysticism, with more recent criticism, which has focused on aesthetic and ethical approaches to the novel within the broader context of theories of value. A focal chapter in the study centers on the persistent difficulty critics have encountered with the idea of "Eigenschaftslosigkeit," the state of being without qualities named in the novel's title.

Tim Mehigan is Associate Professor of German and Head of the Department of Germanic Studies and Russian at the University of Melbourne.

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Table of Contents

Early Philology and Existentialst Readings
From Social Criticism to Cultural Critique
Psychological and Psychoanalytical Readings
Aesthetic Readings
The Order of Feeling: Ethical Readings
The Information of Communication
Editions of Der Mann ohne Eigenschaften
Musil Bibliographies
Works Consulted


[Mehigan] succeeds impressively in lucidly summarizing even the most esoteric analyses of Musil's works and in placing them in the intellectual context of the time.GERMAN STUDIES REVIEW

Mehigan highlights the ways in which critical approaches to The Man without Qualities reflect broader developments and specific concerns within literary criticism and theory since the end of WW II. GERMAN QUARTERLY

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