The man without qualities

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Memorial plaque on Kurfürstendamm 217 in Berlin-Charlottenburg

The Man Without Qualities is the main work of Robert Musil and is counted among the most important novels of the 20th century. It appeared in three volumes from 1930. The focus of the plot set in the Austro-Hungarian dual monarchy is Ulrich , a young intellectual in search of a meaningful and fulfilling professional and private existence, who in many ways bears traits of Musil himself. Driven by circumstances and experimenting with them, Ulrich becomes a participant in a parallel action in which influential circles of the Danube Monarchy celebrate the 70th anniversary of the throne of Emperor Franz Josephprepare in 1918. Compared to the 30th anniversary of the throne of the German Emperor Wilhelm II, which is expected in the same year, this should by no means be inferior in terms of glamor and charisma.

Ulrich's already aloof interest in this project, ironically portrayed by Musil and enriched with a multitude of socio- analytical essays, almost disappears when he meets his married sister Agathe again at the funeral of his sister's father. An incestuous relationship develops between the siblings , which is aimed at the search for a different state of “day-bright mysticism ”. In ever new efforts to sound out this other state of affairs and to integrate it into a whole, the author never comes to the end of the novel.

"Kakanien" is what Musil calls the k, frozen in traditional structures, charged with tension and busily staggering towards doom, in the novel . u. k. Monarchy. In the immediate run-up to the First World War , which was borne by varied initial enthusiasm and which the author was already looking back on when writing the novel, Musil unfolds his broad-ranging horizon of reflection, oscillating back and forth between the given reality and imaginable possibilities. The title character becomes a “man without qualities” in that she does not want to seriously admit to anything and evades any definition in her own life in order to keep herself open to new options and constellations.

Creation framework

Echoes and references to his own life, contemporary media reports and reports as well as observations in society, politics and culture were the essential raw materials from which Musil formed his main work. People in his social environment were often clearly reflected by him. Parts of the novel are based on newspaper reports; In further passages the author devotes himself to a multitude of essay-like reflections on the intellectual situation of the time and social development tendencies.

Autobiographical motives

“As if everything were decided in childhood,” is how Karl Corino writes the opening chapter of his biography on Robert Musil, quoting him. With his unknown sister Elsa, who died four years before his birth and before her first birthday and whose memories his parents kept alive, Robert developed a peculiar relationship in childhood, which occasionally expressed itself in secret wishes to be a girl. The relationship between Ulrich and Agathe in “Man without Qualities” ties in with this. Like Musil himself, his novel counterpart Ulrich also allows little human closeness. Musil found it difficult to become friends at a young age and was repelled by the address "dear friend". Even with the very few friends, Corino said he had conflicting feelings.

Corresponding parallels can also be seen in the father relationship between Musil and Ulrich. Corino considers the admonishing letter from the father to the son woven into the novel with regard to his lack of anchoring in professional life, knowing Alfred Musil's lettering style and considering Robert Musil's life situation, to be authentic. The father first recognizes the son's praiseworthy approaches and achievements that would be brought to him by others, but then complains about his aimlessness:

“But on the one hand your inherited inclination, though not from me, if a task tempts you to take the first steps stormy, but then to forget what you owe to yourself and to those who have placed their hopes in you, on the other hand the fact that I am not able to take the slightest sign from your messages that suggest a plan for your further conduct fills me with grave concern. "

The parents were happy about Musil's training for library service and his employment as a librarian at the Technical University in Vienna from April 1911 to February 1914; for Robert, however, it was not a permanently fulfilling occupation. He only practiced it actively until April 1913 and then took a leave of absence due to illness due to a medically certified nervous state of exhaustion. In February 1914, Musil resigned from his position in order to work as a freelance writer and to seek a livelihood. In the novel he paints an ironic picture of the librarian's qualification, according to which knowledge of the books under one's own direction is precisely based on not reading any carefully. In chapter 100, “General Stumm enters the state library and gathers experience about librarians, library servants and spiritual order”, Musil writes: “It is the secret of all good librarians that they never read more of the literature entrusted to them than the book titles and the table of contents . “Anyone who gets involved with the content is lost as a librarian, the general learns from the doctor and private lecturer in librarianship who leads him.

Time factors

Musil's main work developed as a reaction of the writer to the upheavals caused by the First World War from various approaches and preliminary stages. In retrospect, Musil himself saw “a series of steps that came from different staircases and had to be processed into a new shape.” The work titles changed from “The Spy” (1919/20) to “The Redeemer” (1921–23 ) and "Die Zwillingsschwester" (1923–26) as well as the names of the hero of the novel, who was originally called Achilles and then Anders, before he became Ulrich. If you add the autobiographical motifs, the reasons for the creation of the work lie well before the 1920s.

With the completion, Musil struggled with his never-ending conceptual and section-related revisions. In the meantime, he suffered from writer's block, which he could only get out of with psychotherapeutic help. "The inability to let it stand, the up to twenty rewriting of individual chapters, regardless of his increasingly precarious financial situation, ultimately led to the linguistic and intellectual complexity of the novel."

The historical focus of Musil's novel project was the catastrophe of the First World War, which he welcomed at the beginning just as euphorically as other intellectuals and participants in the artistic avant-garde. Oliver Pfohlmann calls his contribution "Europeanism, War and Germanness" in the literary magazine Die Neue Rundschau , whose editorial office he joined after the termination of the librarianship, an aesthetic declaration of bankruptcy. "Because the emotional mixture of nationalism, willingness to make sacrifices and bellicism that raged in Musil in August 1914 was in clear contradiction to his previous aesthetic values ​​and goals." standing by those values ​​that his generation rejected as outdated, such as loyalty, nationalism or the fulfillment of duties, which have now been suddenly revived by the war. Musil's literary work was essentially devoted to processing this personal and war experience.

In the man without qualities , the pre-war era should be shown using the example of the old Austrian "Kakanien" in the perspective of decline. During the process of updating the novel, which dragged on until Musil's death, there were various new developments and upheavals, including the global economic crisis and fascism , which - based on 1913, the year of the novel - flowed anachronistically into Musil's reflection and presentation framework. “It didn't make work on the novel any easier. It is possible that the fateful entanglement of time levels in everyday life and in the author's mind has gradually become one of the main reasons for the incompleteness of the novel project. ”Musil left behind a bundle of 12,000 sheets with 100,000 notes and cross-references, which later editors can use as they see fit Continue the novel. A digital version of the complete works (Klagenfurt edition) has been available since 2009.

Design features

Even before Musil even began to publish, he had entered a programmatic self-definition in his diary. He wanted to be his own historian or the scholar “who puts his own organism under the microscope.” For his analyzes of the mental “adventures and wanderings” he adopted the nickname “monsieur le vivisecteur”. From then on, Musil upheld this research claim, but expanded it comprehensively beyond his own organism. According to Dietrich Hochstätter, the natural scientist's sober experimental awareness initially dominates his main work. “He maintains the awareness of the reservation and is careful to eliminate all emotions as a precaution. The basic position determines a linguistic attitude that gives the first book of the novel in particular that aura of nonchalance, amiability and ironic carelessness that has no equal in German literature. "

There are many ways in which Musil's means of building distance from the reality found are:

“You used to be a person with a better conscience than you are today. People were like stalks in corn; They were probably moved back and forth by God, hail, conflagration, pestilence and war more violently than now, but on the whole, by city, by region, as a field, and whatever personal movement remained for the individual stalk, that could be justified and remained a clearly delineated matter. Today, on the other hand, responsibility does not focus on people, but on factual contexts. Has it not been noticed that the experiences have made themselves independent of people? They went to the theater, to the books, to the reports of the research institutes and research trips, to the ideological and religious communities that develop certain types of experience at the expense of others, as in a social experimental attempt, and provided that the experiences are not exactly in the Work, they are simply in the air; who can still say today that his anger is really his anger when so many people talk to him and understand it better than he ?! "

Sometimes slightly ironic, sometimes sharply caricaturing, his protagonist Ulrich looks at the goings-on of his fellow human beings as part of the parallel action. "His skepticism, his irony, his total disrespect and his cynicism", says Ulrich Schelling, "is methodical: it destroys the positive that persists as reality and identity, and thus prepares the ground for the hoped-for utopian transformation of the world [ ...] "

Musil renounces the traditional narrative form as an illusory shortening of the context of life. In the “orderly sequence” of the presentation, as Wolfdietrich Rasch says, only a pseudo order would be created, “which would have to cover up and lie away the chaotic, diffuse, ambiguous of existence. This would rob poetry of its truth. "Musil writes:

“Most people are narrators in their basic relationship to themselves. They do not love lyric poetry or only for a moment, and even if a little "because" and "with it" are tied into the thread of life, they still abhor all reflection that goes beyond it: they love the orderly succession of facts because it looks like a necessity, and feel somehow sheltered in chaos by the impression that their life has a "run". And Ulrich now noticed that he had lost this primitive epic, to which private life still clings, although publicly everything has already become untold and no longer follows a "thread", but spreads in an infinitely interwoven surface. "

A characteristic design feature of this novel is the frequently alternating sequence and juxtaposition of narrative levels and essay-like reflections. According to Simon Jander, the narrative and the reflective moment stand in an equal correspondence and complementary relationship to one another, determined by a specific perspective. In summary, it says: "The combination of experimental thought movements (essay) and poetic anticipation (narration) can lead to an imaginative variation of 'reality' which has an extraordinary intellectual and literary potential."

As the starting point for Musil's writing, Klaus Amann defines “a sharp analysis of the existing, which is measured by its possibilities.” He is constantly considering alternative, unfamiliar perspectives, so that it sometimes seems as if Musil's own position is being dissolved “in the relativism of divergent perspectives " on. From Musil's psychologically trained point of view, Amann sees the plausible reason for this in the fact that "points of view and points of view are interest-based and dependent on the situation and that, metaphorically speaking, we are basically in a situation of tilted images."

Musil also creates a different perspective of reality by introducing his own terminology or neologisms into the linguistic repertoire of the novel: for example with the title “The Man Without Qualities”, with the demand for a “secretariat of precision and soul” or with the setting “Kakanien” . “As a negation of conventionally established ways of looking at things ,” says Richard David Precht , “these constantly repeated formulas advance to metaphors of a specific worldview, the presentation of which makes the textual events available.” According to Schelling, “his peers” is the cipher with which Musil is a society frozen in tradition Kakaniens captured. "A truth that rises from the unfathomable depths of life and grips the whole person no longer rules in his equals, but authorities, abstract norms, which are imposed on life from the outside as ready-made imprints and divide it up." Opportunity to lay bare the “living ambiguity” and “deep non-commitment” of the language and to play with its possibilities.


Broken ironically in many ways, Musil presents his Kakanien on the eve of the First World War. “Nevertheless, it is Musil's declared claim,” emphasizes Hochstätter, “not to treat the representatives of his own kind without benevolence”, since there is something right in everything. Musil himself makes a "constructive irony" into the program in the man without qualities :

“The irony is: to portray a clerical in such a way that a Bolshevik is hit alongside him. To portray a fool in such a way that the author suddenly feels: I am partly myself. This type of irony - constructive irony - is fairly unknown in Germany today. It is the context of things from which it emerges naked. "

For Hochstätter, the constructive aspect of such irony is that the narrator is always looking over his shoulder and, alternating between the ironic references, also mocks himself. Rasch also emphasizes that irony as a comprehensive principle also affects Musil's protagonist Ulrich: “When he transforms his original activity into a wait-and-see passivity, this happens from an ironic distance from reality, but also becomes the subject of the narrator's irony himself. Ulrich's own helplessness and ambivalence are included in the ironic world design, which in the crumbling world of pre-war Austria combines the obsolescence of social conditions and ways of life with the futility and inadequacy of all attempts at reform, all efforts to find a "new person" to portray a generally questionable state of the world. “A form of constructive irony also shows up for Joseph P. Strelka when Musil seems to be concerned with ironically dampening and absorbing his own positive exuberance when looking at home: for example in the image of the white, wide, affluent streets that Land "like rivers of order, like ribbons made of bright soldiers, and the countries wrapped with the paper-white arm of the administration."

Schelling identifies irony as the form of “improper speaking”. “She sees through herself and uses inappropriate language that is smilingly aware of her half-truth. In its careless or frivolous provisionality, it maintains a constant reservation: the reservation of reflective infinite consciousness over what is finally spoken. ”For Rasch, the irony in this novel is largely characterized by“ the fact that its counterplay is utopia. When Ulrich ironically questions all reality, it does not take place from a fixed position, from a certain certainty of certain values ​​and forms of order, but he is first looking for such a position himself, he only has it as the goal and direction of tireless attempts «, As utopia.” But when it comes to portraying the desired “other state”, says Hochstätter, the narrator gives up “his ironic general reservation”. This is also expressed in language. "The new arrival of the real means renouncing that irony that initially seemed indispensable to the novel."

Possibility thinking

For Musil, the ironic confrontation with found levels of reality is at the same time the means of creating space for other things, for new possibilities. "In that irony does not claim to have arrived at a solid and final truth," says Schelling, "but declares the inadequacy of what has been said through its way of speaking, it keeps itself open and admits something that is still outstanding."

At the forefront of the man without qualities , Musil gives the fourth chapter of the novel the heading: "If there is a sense of reality, there must also be a sense of possibility", and writes:

“Whoever has it does not say, for example: This or that has happened here, will happen, must happen; but he invents: Here could, should or should happen; and when you tell him of something that it is the way it is, he thinks: Well, it could probably be different. The sense of possibility could be defined as the ability to think everything that could just as well be and not to take what is more important than what is not. "

Hochstätter also sees Musil's style and language in the sense of the possibility man, correspondingly open to various “ways of saying and creating”. Musil writes with the claim, says Rasch, “that thoughts can also have the excitement of a personal event and that they characterize people just like actions. The “possible” that appears in them is as significant as what actually happens. ” According to Martin Menges, the novelist also experiments with Musil's protagonist, Ulrich, who takes a vacation from his peers to look for and try other new things before: "[...] he no longer offers a uniform point of reference in the explosion of perspectives and, under the code of" possibility thinking ", makes perspectivism the principle of representation of his novel and at the same time its theme."

Principle of analogy

According to Rasch, the novel does not aim anywhere at a “realistic” image of reality. Reality is always ironic or interspersed with utopia. “It is the extraordinary achievement of Musil's ability to speak that a unified novel-like world plan emerges. Above all, it is an art of integration that forces the disparate together, binds many layers and pitches into a unity: the ironic and that of unconditional seriousness, the satirical and the expressive-lyrical, the rational and the ecstatic, the reflective and the drawing . ”Musil's claim to accuracy is essentially aimed at“ being precise means grasping the ambivalences, the confusing counter-tones, the hidden relationships of a phenomenon. In this sense, metaphor or comparison are often more accurate than imageless speech. Musil's style lives to a large extent from a metaphor that has no ornamental meaning anywhere. "Metaphor and comparison are means of removing the" often inevitable isolation of things "in the representation and bringing them into the context in which they are taken" precisely " stands.

In search of a “methodology of life”, says Dieter Fuder, the reflections based on analogies serve Ulrich to counter possible causes “the separation from the whole”. He prefers the analogy “as a methodical way of thinking against false ideals of uniqueness”. According to Hochstätter, Musil's linguistic design was unusually rich in images even in the first part of the novel; when Ulrich and Agathe then essentially focus on reflections on the “other state” in the second part, the parable becomes even more the dominant style figure.

Striking opening chapter

The novel that Musil published during his lifetime is divided into three parts. The author has given the first part, comprising 19 chapters, the title “A kind of introduction”. The opening chapter is headed: “From which, remarkably, nothing emerges” . In the first section of the text it says:

“There was a barometric minimum over the Atlantic; it migrated eastward, towards a maximum overlying Russia, and did not yet show any tendency to avoid it northward. The isotherms and isotherms did their job. […] The water vapor in the air had its greatest elasticity, and the humidity in the air was low. In a word that describes the actual situation very well, even if it is a bit old-fashioned: It was a beautiful August day in 1913. "

With this prelude already, Musil is sending a signal that the readers are in for something extraordinary. Such a difficult-to-understand meteorological report, according to Precht, might be expected in a scientific context, but not as the beginning of the novel. This is followed in the opening chapter by impressions of the hustle and bustle in a big city and the background noise: it is explicitly unmistakably Vienna, but this should not be taken further: “The overestimation of the question of where you are comes from the hordes of where you are Had to remember feeding places. "Two not sufficiently identifiable people, " elegant in clothing, posture and in the way they talked to each other, had the first letters of their names embroidered on their laundry, and also, that means not turned outward, but certainly in the fine underwear of their consciousness, they knew who they were and that they were in their place in a capital and royal seat. Assuming their names are Arnhem and Ermelinda Tuzzi, which is not true, because Mrs. Tuzzi was in Bad Aussee in August with her husband and Dr. Arnhem is still in Constantinople, so one is puzzled as to who they are. ” Together with others, these two witnesses an accident in which a truck hits a pedestrian who is then surrounded by passers-by lying motionless on the curb until the alarmed ambulance arrives and take him away. “Men in some sort of uniform looked after him, and the inside of the wagon that caught his eye looked as clean and regular as a hospital ward. It was almost with the legitimate impression that a legal and orderly event had taken place. "According to American statistics," the gentleman noted, "190,000 people are killed and 450,000 injured there by cars every year."

In the research literature that deals with Musil's main work, the opening chapter occupies a special position as an interpretative focus. According to Inka Mülder-Bach, it is one of the best-known beginnings of a novel in European literature: “Hardly any reader has been able to withstand its pull. The anonymity of the scene is never revealed. ”In essence, the whole projected whole of the novel is already contained here. For Fuder, too, the opening chapter stands “in a correlation with the whole of the novel, in which those perspectives and motifs are set in advance, as in the scaled-down mirror,” which are then developed. According to Rasch, in this beginning of the novel, time, place, personal identity and causality are "not exactly canceled, but questioned, made to sway, put into a state of dissolution."

The title of the first chapter: “From which, in a remarkable way, nothing emerges”, is therefore to be regarded as the author's first ironic turn. Musil's description of urban traffic conditions and his information on the number of victims in American car traffic do not reflect the reality of 1913 either. “Figures who seem to have escaped a novel of the 19th century are wrong in American traffic in 1924 and Berliners in 1929 through Vienna in 1913. “The accident casualty figures quoted by Musil, on the other hand, correspond, according to Mülder-Bach, to the soldiers of the Austro-Hungarian army who were killed or wounded between August and December 1914. Lothar Georg Seeger sees the symbol of the automobile, which in the opening chapter makes its way to the accident as if steerless, as tied back to the conduct of the parallel action that will drift towards the catastrophe of the First World War in the course of the novel.

“On just under three pages,” Rasch sums up, “the opening chapter gives an unsurpassable introduction to the complex subject matter of the novel. Thanks to the detachment from the purely historical detail in artistic abstraction, such a chapter, which is dated 1913 and published in 1930, is able to retain its undiminished validity today, not only through its poetic rank, but as a representation of the state of the world in the 20th century. "

Figure selection

Just as the novel as a whole is related to Musil's inspection and examination of the social and intellectual currents of his time, so are the people involved. They embody different types of people and stand for certain thought patterns. According to Schelling, the 25 to 30 more prominent novel characters are connected to one another by a "flexible web of complicated, ironically broken inclinations and aversions". "Strelka does not see them as vaguely constructed theoretical types, but rather as" living examples of closely observed realities of experience. ” For Rasch, their primary functions in the novel are based on the “inner relationship with Ulrich, as a reflection and contrast”.

There are essentially three circles or groups of people with whom Ulrich associates: the parallel action at Ulrich's cousin Diotima, which deals with the collection of ideas for the forthcoming jubilee of Emperor Franz Joseph I in 1918 ; Fischel family with their daughter Gerda and their right-wing extremist friend; Ulrich's long-time friends Clarisse and Walter. “In all three fields one tries to define Ulrich, whereby it can hardly be a coincidence that these three definitions correspond to three fundamental social orders, namely profession, marriage and fatherhood: Diotima and the field of parallel action offer Ulrich a profession as secretary, Gerda wants to marry him and Clarisse wants a child from him. These different territorialization forces neutralize each other, so that Ulrich remains free for an area that does not correspond to the social order, namely the incestuous love for his sister, the subject of the second book. "

According to Precht, Musil had to walk a tightrope when drawing figures: On the one hand, they were not allowed to appear bloodless as mere mouthpieces; on the other hand, their respective function as a typical appearance of the time should not be masked by a particularly distinctive individual profile. The same also applies to the fictional names of the characters in the novel, behind which are mostly actual friends of Musil. His character names are likely to have alluding character throughout, even if full explanation is not available and is sometimes difficult. The situation is different with the representatives of the military: “Stumm von Bordwehr” and “Frost von Aufbruch” are the speaking names. “It is, however, noticeable”, writes Precht, “that Musil, especially with regard to the use of classifying and eloquent names, gradually defused his naming during the time the novel was being written.” This is what happened with the renaming of “Hans Tepp” (association : Depp) to “Hans Sepp”, that of “Denknietzky” to “Wisnieczky” or that of “Dr. Strangsal "to" Dr. Strastil ".

  • The main character of the novel is Ulrich , who, after various attempts to find his calling in a profession (e.g. as a mathematician, engineer or officer), grants himself a one-year “vacation from life” “in order to be able to use his skills appropriately seek ”or to become different and better people. As a result of an initially verbal and then physical dispute about the parallel action with the participation of police officers, in which Ulrich tries to mediate, he is led away and meticulously handled by the police, a strange and unsettling experience for him. After the intervention of Count Leinsdorf, who was looking for him on another recommendation, he was released and was summarily appointed by him to be the honorary secretary for the "parallel action". As Ulrich is not committed to any social role and is given full freedom by Musil, this "man without qualities" functions on the one hand as a link between the characters in the novel and as a "discourse connector of the text". At the same time, it acts as a "medium through which the reader gets into the text."
  • As a prostitute from the vaudeville theater, Leona offers Ulrich her love services and, with her unquenchable appetite, serves him as an object of study. In this way she represents the social order of love at the lowest level.
  • Bonadea , who gently brings the attacked and robbed Ulrich back to herself, belongs to high society, but seeks her sensual fulfillment beyond her everyday life as wife and mother: She becomes and remains Ulrich's lover until he devotes himself entirely to his sister.
  • Diotima is the organizer of the parallel action, who as the salon lady creates the organizational framework for it. Ulrich's relationship with his cousin is ambivalent, characterized by attraction and distance at the same time.
  • Section chief Tuzzi is Diotima's husband. He is a high-ranking civil servant and, as a sober head, keeps a certain distance from the hustle and bustle of the parallel action taking place in his house in the conversations with Ulrich.
  • Count Leinsdorf is the initiator of the parallel action, a conservative realpolitician according to his self-image, to whom Ulrich maintains a loyal service relationship as an honorary secretary without devotion. One is looking for the sparkling idea for the monarchical jubilee celebrations for the state; but the hectic social activity that has been set in motion threatens to grow too much for Leinsdorf.
  • As a cosmopolitan business magnate and ingenious writer, Paul Arnheim is the most brilliant personality in the parallel action, a Prussian and brilliant partner who casts Diotima under his spell and who becomes the intellectual antipode for Musils Ulrich.
  • Rachel and Soliman embody the sphere of the servants among the actors, who participate in the important social processes at best from the keyhole perspective. In contrast to their dominions Diotima and Arnheim, whose relationship remains in the platonic framework , the subordinates finally perform the sexual act.
  • General Stumm von Bordwehr was assigned to the parallel action from a higher authority as a military observer. He experiences and comments on the events naively and good-naturedly from this limited perspective. Ulrich knows him from his own time in the military and treats him on friendly terms.
  • Moosbrugger is a delusional, imprisoned prostitute killer. As an object of media coverage, it becomes an object of contention and controversy in various respects, for example from a medical-psychiatric, legal, theological, bureaucratic and political point of view. Ulrich also concerns Moosbrugger's fate personally in several respects.
  • Clarisse and Walter lead their mutual disappointment dominated marriage largely apart from social life. Since Walter did not become the great artist Clarisse had in mind, she has lost her sexual interest in him. Instead, she now wants to redeem Moosbrugger and is sliding more and more into mental illness. It is Walter who describes his childhood friend Ulrich, who occasionally comes to visit, as a “man without qualities”.
  • Leo Fischel is a banker who is on friendly terms with Ulrich, who would have liked to have given his daughter Gerda to Ulrich as his wife. When nothing came of that, Gerda joined the pre-fascist-anti-Semitic activist Hans Sepp , who is now stirring up the strife in the house of the Jewish financial services provider and his wife Klementine .
  • Agathe is Ulrich's almost forgotten married sister, who is five years younger than him, and whom he meets again while preparing the funeral for their two fathers. Both are extremely attracted to each other in the manner of twins, it seems to them; Agathe is taken into his apartment by Ulrich. In this symbiosis, they search for a different (life) state.
  • Prof. Gottlieb Hagauer is Agathe's husband, who, despite all the equal attention he brings to her as a busy reform pedagogue, has become so disgusting that she not only abandons him, but also cheats him out of the inheritance that her father left for him .
  • August Lindner, also a pedagogue, is consulted by Agathe as a moral authority whose advice she may use to examine her own behavior. Her relationship with Lindner, which also makes her a little more independent from Ulrich, is very ambivalent due to a large number of peculiar quirks of Lindner.

Musil's reader guide

Musil has divided the three parts of his main work published during his lifetime into 180 chapter headings: 19 are allotted to the first part - “a kind of introduction” ; 104 to the second part - “His kind happens” ; 38 to the third part - "Into the Thousand Year Reich (The Criminals)" . While the “equals” of the second part stands for the banal everyday events (arranged by Musil) before the First World War, the “Thousand Year Reich” is the cipher for that other mystical state, the “criminals” Agathe and Ulrich since they met again strive for.

With the chapter headings, Musil initially creates the appearance of a conventional narrator who develops a clearly arranged whole from self-contained individual sections. “The decisive factor as to why chapters are to be formed,” says Musil's diary notes, “is something psychotechnical: a smaller, closed topic is easier to tackle, and the like. Such a framework is more easily filled with the material and its additions. ”At the same time, the individual headings can help readers to classify and find certain figures, events and reflection sheets, which fits Musil's request that one read his work twice,“ in part and in Whole. "

So if the chapter headings stand on the one hand for a well-known framework for orientation and order, on the other hand they fit into Musil's basic endeavor to undermine and undermine common conventions in order to create space for other things. The author seems to be playing a game with titles and readers at times.

Sometimes the headings are laconically short: 5. Ulrich ; 8. coconut ; 14. Youth friends ; 18. Moosbrugger .

Sometimes they appear almost chatty: 7. In a state of weakness, Ulrich draws a new lover ; 12. The lady whose love Ulrich won after a conversation about sport and mysticism ; 13. A brilliant racehorse develops the knowledge that he is a man without qualities .

In a changing mix, ironic-satirical accents are set: 22. The parallel action stands in the form of an influential lady of indescribable intellectual grace ready to devour Ulrich ; 26. The union of soul and economy. The man who can do that wants to enjoy the baroque magic of old Austrian culture. An idea is born to the parallel action ; 28. A chapter that anyone can turn over who has no particular opinion of preoccupation with thoughts .

Sometimes the author doubts the context of his titled series of statements: 43. Ulrich's first encounter with the great man. Nothing unreasonable happens in world history, but Diotima asserts that true Austria is the whole world ; 62. The earth, too, but especially Ulrich pays homage to the utopia of essayism ; 99. Of half-prudence and its fertile other half; of the resemblance of two ages, of the lovable nature of Aunt Jane and the nonsense that is called the new age ; 114. The situation is coming to a head. Arnhem is very gracious to General Stumm. Diotima prepares to venture into the limitless, Ulrich fantasizes about the possibility of living the way one reads .

With such “subversion strategies” Musil breaks the common expectation that the reader can confide in the headline and take everything literally. Precht says: “The result is that even the apparently serious headlines and those announcements that appear like objective summaries of the narrative can no longer be read in such a natural way as linguistic representations of an 'essential' when exposed to other horizons of meaning . “The tilting movement consequently not only affects some headings, but the text as a whole creates an irritation that no longer allows a certain prior understanding to apply. “The aesthetic game, as exemplified by the chapter headings for the novel, thus aims to undermine actual involvement, premature sympathy and trust in the persuasiveness of the language, the reader on the semantics of the discourses, the conventions and to put ingrained perspectives at a distance and to show the limitations of their perspective. "

Viewing levels and objects

What Musil has to offer his readers are the products of his, as he himself recognized, “intelligence that can move in contradicting directions”. The “great patriotic action” or parallel action around which Musil grouped his figures, imagined among other things as a collection of ideas from all tribes and estates of the old Austrian Kakanien, turned out to be a suitable focus, “the Central European fund of ideas from the turn of the century in all its facets and configurations to discuss and 'carnivalize' ”. Musil consciously used the often essay-like presentation of material and reflections in order to indulge his thoughts beyond the limits of “what I could be responsible for under all circumstances.” According to Schelling, Musil's reflections are not simply interspersed with the flow of the narrative. "His reflection is also a reflection on the narration itself. She repeatedly interrupts the story, deprives the narration of its binding nature and questions the spoken word through its contradiction."

The fact that Musil's on the one hand and the other at the same time emphasizes a reciprocal complementary relationship is illustrated in detail by Mülder-Bach by emphasizing the special importance of conjunction and for Musil's thinking and writing. The imperial and royal (kuk) dual monarchy as the ideal vanishing point of the parallel action with its slogans “Society and Spirit”, “Property and Education”, “Idea and Power” has an elementary meaning in this regard . If the dualism is sometimes referred to as Musil's “world formula”, what separates the two should be seen as essential. The sibling constellation Ulrich and Agathe, which is at the center of the second part of the novel, is characterized by a complementary relationship between the two, who are like twins: as "inseparable and not united."

The mental and spiritual constitution of Musils Ulrich itself is also determined by such a complementary relationship. “Ulrich's mathematically inspired way of thinking”, says Rasch, “is always that of a man who is also accessible to mystical experiences of being, and his ecstatic participation in the world is always that of a mathematician. Both positions are in a complementary relationship that is not directed towards an alternative but towards a synthesis. ”According to Musil, an intellectual solution to this synthesis, which is understood as a task, goes beyond“ Ulrich's abilities and thus beyond those of his author ”. “But Ulrich lives the attempt to unite 'both ways'. For him, one is not without the other. "

Historical conditions and potentials

A focal point of the reflections in the man without qualities are the circumstances as they have become and could or should be different. Musil develops this dualism on a large number of objects, including history and contemporary events.

The conservative real politician Graf Leinsdorf bowed to the realization that there is “no voluntary return” in human history. It is true that he tends to praise the times of absolutism, when the world was still run “by responsible people according to uniform points of view”. "But it suddenly occurred to him [...] that he would be really unpleasantly surprised if he had to wake up one morning without a warm bath and instead of the morning papers just an imperial crier rode through the streets."

Musil satirizes the far-reaching, future-oriented bureaucratic idleness in the context of the parallel action as an example:

“Place one wrote, place two answered; when passage two had answered, one had to report it to passage one, and the best thing to do was to encourage an oral debate; when positions one and two had agreed, it was determined that nothing could be done; so there was always something to do. "

Musil's preparation of the mixed media information offer shows similar types of substance deficits:

“One read at the same time under news that the government of Sr. Majesty's government had entered into a treaty with the government of another majesty, the securing of peace, economic improvement, cordial cooperation and respect for the rights of all, but also measures for the case that these are threatened or could be threatened. A few days later, Section Head Tuzzis' superior minister had given a speech in which he demonstrated the urgent need for close cohesion between the three continental empires, which should not ignore modern social development but, in the common interest of the dynasties, must take a stand against new social developments; Italy was involved in an armed operation in Libya; Germany and England had a Baghdad question; Kakania made certain military preparations in the south in order to show the world that Serbia's expansion to the sea would not allow it, only a rail link; and on a par with all events of this kind, the world-famous Swedish actress Fraulein Vogelsang confessed that she had never slept as well as that first night after her arrival in Kakanien and was happy about the policeman who saved her from the excitement of the crowd , but then asked permission himself to be able to gratefully squeeze her hand with both of his hands. "

In Chapter 83: "His own kind or why not invent history" , Ulrich reflects, sitting in the tram:

“It looks uncertain and matted, our history, if you look at it up close, like a half-trodden swamp, and then, strangely enough, a path runs over it, precisely that“ path of history ”that nobody knows about where he came from. This serving history to matter was something that outraged Ulrich. The glowing, rocking box in which he was driving seemed like a machine in which a few hundred kilograms of people were shaken back and forth in order to create a future out of them. A hundred years ago they sat in a stagecoach with similar faces, and in a hundred years, God knows what will be the matter with them, but as new people in new future machines they will be sitting there exactly like that, - he felt and was indignant at this defenseless acceptance of changes and conditions, the helpless contemporaneity, the haphazardly devoted, actually inhumane participation over the centuries, as if he suddenly rebelled against the hat, which, strangely enough, had been sitting on his head. [...] It probably doesn't take as much as one thinks to turn the Gothic man or the ancient Greek into the modern man of civilization. For the human being is just as easily capable of man-eating as it is of criticizing pure reason; it can do both with the same convictions and qualities, if the circumstances are so, and very large external differences correspond to very small internal differences. "

According to Schelling, meaning and spiritual order are not important for Ulrich in historical processes and their carriers. That is why he behaves towards history "like a demanding theater-goer in front of a poor play that bores him: as an uninvolved spectator." The future is open, but its controllability by people is an illusion:

“The train of time is a train that rolls its rails in front of it. The river of time is a river that carries its banks with it. The fellow traveler moves between solid walls on solid ground; but the floor and walls are imperceptibly moved along with the movements of the travelers in the most lively manner. "

Ulrich explains:

“We are undeniably making so much progress in the individual branches of human ability that we properly have the feeling that we cannot keep up with them; Wouldn't it be possible that this also gave rise to the feeling that we were not experiencing any progress? After all, progress is what results from all efforts together, and you can actually say from the outset that real progress will always be exactly what nobody wanted. "

Military and society

The military in the form of General Stumm von Bordwehr is a constant observer and companion of the parallel action and the social forces represented in it in the Salon Diotimas. In doing so, the official exhibits an inquisitive and eager to learn attitude, which breaks down all new ideas and impressions to his military level, in which he always graciously lets Ulrich participate. According to his position as head of the department for military education and training in the War Ministry, he receives the assignment from Field Marshal Lieutenant Frost von Aufbruch, the head of the presidential section :

“You dumb, you are such a scholar, we will write you an introductory letter and you will go there. Take a look at what they're actually up to. […] You understand, we don't want anything special, but you go there as often as you can and show that we are there; that we are not on the committees is perhaps so far all right, but there is no reason why we should not be there when a spiritual gift is being discussed, so to speak, for the birthday of our Most High Warlord. "

When the parallel action in the Tuzzi house is finally faced with the question of how the primarily Austrian will be brought to bear in the planned action, it is General Stumm von Bordwehr who gives the answer:

“He knew very well - he said - the soldier was given a modest role in the consultation room. If he does speak, it is not in order to join the unsurpassable criticism of the proposals which have hitherto emerged, all of which have been excellent. Nevertheless, in the end he would like to submit the following thoughts to benevolent examination. [...] He only touched a well-known wound when he recalled the unsatisfactory state in which the development of our artillery and that of the navy was now due to the indifference of Parliament. If no other goal was found, he should therefore consider that broad popular participation in the questions of the army and its arming would be a very worthy goal. Si vis pacem para bellum! The strength that one unfolds in peacetime keeps war at bay or at least shortens it. So he could assure you that such a measure could also have a reconciling effect and would represent an expressive manifestation of peaceful sentiments. "

In Chapter 85: General Stumm's endeavor to bring order to the civil mind , the person responsible for educational questions in the War Ministry developed the problem of determining the highest-ranking idea with which the future imperial jubilee would be a spiritual monument. Despite all the admiration for the participants of the parallel action invited to Diotima's salon, "devilish difficulties" are connected with it:

“If one says that, the other claims the opposite - haven't you noticed that too? - but what at least seems far worse to me: the civil spirit seems to be what one calls a bad eater in a horse. Do you still remember? You can give such a beast double the food ration, but it still won't get any bigger! […] For all of me you can say that he is getting thicker every day, but his bones do not grow and the fur remains dull; what he gets is just a belly of grass. So that interests me, you know, and I have made up my mind to deal with this question, why there is actually no order to be brought into it. "

The general presented Ulrich with a multi-leaf collection, "the consignment of the main ideas", which he asked the participants. For the short-term creation he needed a captain, two lieutenants and five non-commissioned officers. After taking stock of the situation, however, he found that the Central European store of ideas consisted of sheer opposites, which "when you study them more closely begin to merge." After lengthy one-on-one conversations with the famous people in Diotima's salon, it seemed to him that they were saying in the end all the same, "and maybe my sense of conscience is just not enough!"

“What frightened General Stumm's mind in such a way was no small matter and shouldn't really have been left to the War Department, although it could be shown that it has all kinds of excellent relations with the war. A number of great ideas have been given to the present age, and for each idea, through a particular goodness of fate, also its counter-idea, so that individualism and collectivism, nationalism and internationalism, socialism and capitalism, imperialism and pacifism, rationalism and superstition are equally good Are at home, to which the unused remains of innumerable other opposites of the same or lower present value join. "

Mute is now at the end of his Latin:

““ I have, ”said the general, and something irritated or rushed glimmered in his cheerful eyes,“ I have made the most varied attempts to bring the whole thing into a unit: but do you know how it is? Like when you travel second class in Galicia and get pubic lice! It's the filthiest feeling of powerlessness I've known. If you've lingered between ideas for a long time, your whole body itches and you still don't get rest if you scratch your blood! »"

Ulrich lets him understand that he takes thinking too seriously and, when it comes to gaining scientific knowledge, refers him to the simple models of order - in the military. Incidentally, it is true of the present that there is more and more order and less and less order. Acceptance for a big idea is no longer an option:

“Just imagine how it goes today: when an important man puts an idea into the world, it is immediately seized by a process of distribution consisting of affection and dislike; At first the admirers tear large pieces of it, just as they suit them, and distort their master like the foxes the carrion, then the opponents destroy the weak spots, and sooner or later there is nothing left of any achievement than a supply of aphorisms from which friends and Serve the enemy as they please. "

Mute von Bordwehr is also there when Clarisse's wish comes true and she, accompanied by her brother and Ulrich, visits a psychiatric institution to meet Moosbrugger. Since Stumm has a lot to reckon with, he also worries about his appearance:

"" I'm already dressed like a Christmas tree for the minister, if he lets me be called! " he exclaimed and underlined it by pointing to his pale blue tunic and the medals hanging on it: "Don't you think that it can lead to embarrassing incidents when I show myself to fools in uniform? For example, what do I do if someone insults my skirt? I can't pull my saber then, and to be silent is also extremely dangerous for me !? »"

Ulrich can reassure him with the prospect that he will wear a doctor's coat over his uniform in the institution. During the walk through the prison premises, however, Stumm is mentally concerned with his more urgent duties and tries to talk to Ulrich about them:

"" We take pacifism very seriously! We just want to get our artillery bill through. And if we could do that hand in hand with pacifism, so to speak, then we would be best protected from all imperialist misunderstandings that claim that one disturbs the peace!

Law and arbitrariness

The case of the sex murderer Moosbrugger accompanies the plot of the novel in a side thread that Musil revisited on various occasions. For Albertsen, Moosbrugger shows traits that are mirror images of Ulrich: “Moosbrugger is a man without qualities because he has and is all qualities , Ulrich is a man without qualities because he knows he could accept any one. Moosbrugger is »M. o. E. «in the indicative, Ulrich» M. o. E. "in the subjunctive, real possibility person."

Both have in common that they stand outside or next to society, although Moosbrugger's behavior reaches extremes in social and psychological terms. Musil often portrays his thinking and experiences, like Ulrich's, from the inside view of the person. In contrast to Ulrich, Moosbrugger has difficulties with the common usage of the language. During his detention in the solitary cell, he feels that it is the language of the judicial representatives that allows them to exercise power over him.

Menges regards Moosbrugger's “fight against irritation from inside and outside” as a struggle for autonomy. “For the sake of this goal, he withdraws into autistic solitude or, if this does not work, he resorts to violence. [...] He is not only the monster that everyone sees in him, he also wants to be. "Moosbrugger behaves like the typical outsider," who has been denied all confirmation: at least here he wants to feel what he is in his own Ordinary everyday life neither received nor wanted to maintain because it immediately appeared as an interference with his autonomy: confirmation from outside. Moosbrugger puts himself unreservedly in the glaring light of his deed, which arouses horror everywhere. "

According to Corino, when describing Moosbrugger's condemnation to death, Musil partly literally adopted the statements of the real role model Christian Voigt:

"When the chairman read out the report that declared him responsible, Moosbrugger rose and announced to the Tribunal:" I am satisfied with it and have achieved my purpose. " Mocking disbelief in the eyes all around answered him, and he added angrily: “By compelling the indictment, I am satisfied with the evidence! [...] I am satisfied with it, even if I have to confess to you that you have condemned a madman. ""

In Chapter 20, “Touching Reality. Regardless of the lack of qualities, Ulrich behaves energetically and fiery, ” the hero of the novel appears on his father's letters of recommendation in the Vienna Hofburg at Count Stallburg's in order to be appraised for possible use. The count likes him, but gets out of step when Ulrich asks him to plead for a pardon for Moosbrugger.

“It was a derailment to expect this man to discuss how people who are interested in intellectual troubles often take it upon themselves quite pointlessly. A few words like this, sprinkled correctly, can be as fertile as loose garden soil, but in this place they looked like a pile of earth that someone accidentally carried into the room by one's shoes. But now, when Count Stallburg noticed his embarrassment, he showed him truly great benevolence. "Yes, yes, I remember [...] and so you say that this is a mentally ill person and you want to help this person?" "It is not his fault." "Yes, these are always particularly unpleasant cases." Count Stallburg seemed to be suffering greatly from their difficulties. He looked at Ulrich hopelessly and asked him, as if nothing else could be expected, whether Moosbrugger had already been finally tried. Ulrich had to say no. "Oh, now you see," he went on with relief, "then there is still time," and he began to speak of "Papa", leaving the Moosbrugger case in a friendly state of uncertainty. "

In Chapter 111 “There are no half-crazy people for lawyers” , the Moosbrugger case becomes the occasion for controversial evaluations in the judicial committee, of which Ulrich's father is a member. His counterpart in the matter is Professor Schwung - "perhaps because he had been the old man's friend and colleague for forty years, which must eventually lead to a violent conflict". It is important to take into account, it says in the novel, that for logical reasons the lawyer “should never admit a mixture of two states in the same act”.

"And because both scholars were equally convinced of the dignity of the law and neither could get the majority of the committee on their side, they accused each other at first of error, but then in quick succession of illogic, deliberate misunderstanding and a lack of ideality."

Ulrich's father published two pamphlets on this, which Schwung again criticized in a legal journal.

"There were many and and ors in these pamphlets, because the question had to be" settled "as to whether the two views could be connected by an and or had to be separated by an or. And when, after a long pause, the committee formed a lap again, an AND and an OR party had already separated. But there was also a party that advocated the simple suggestion of letting the degree of imputation and insanity rise and fall in the same proportion as the amount of psychological strength required to achieve self-control under the given circumstances of the illness rise and fall would be sufficient. [...] It is difficult to do justice to justice in a moment. The commission consisted of about twenty scholars who were able to take a few thousand points of view on each other, as can be easily calculated. The laws that were supposed to be improved had been in use since 1852, so it was also a very enduring matter that cannot be easily replaced by another. And in general, the dormant institution of law cannot follow all the leaps of thought of the prevailing intellectual fashion - as one participant correctly noted. "

Individuality and striving for union

The main drive for the vacation from life, which Musils Ulrich grants, is the need to clarify and overcome feelings of separation and isolation. For Fuder, Musil's novel is nothing more than "the methodical pacing of ideas of salvation in an unredeemed reality."

In an interview with Agathe Ulrich expresses that he does not know a certain kind of self-love, “a certain tender relationship with myself that seems to be natural to most other people.” What he would be willing to take an inner part in must be based on an idea stand.

“And the most original and simplest idea, at least in younger years, is that you are a damn and new guy that the world has been waiting for. But that doesn't last beyond the thirtieth year! […] You have to love an idea like a woman. Be blessed when you return to her. And you always have it in you! I never found such ideas. I have always had a man-man relationship with so-called great ideas; perhaps also to the so-called, rightly so: I did not believe that I was born to subordinate, they stimulated me to overthrow them and put others in their place. Yes, maybe I was led to science by this jealousy, the laws of which are sought in community and are not seen as inviolable! "

Menges speak of a lustful longing to “break through the hardened crust of individuation and the civilization that has developed at the same time”, a longing for “brotherhood and fraternization”, which also includes “nature domesticated to the world of objects” as well as that after the euphoria of intoxication. In this context, Musil often uses analogies connected with water and its flow properties.

“The faces of the people had something like floating foam. After the monotonous tension of his thoughts in the last few days, he felt himself transported from a dungeon into a soft bath. [...] It flowed like a wave through the wave brothers, if one may say so; and why shouldn't one be allowed to do it when a person who has worked his way alone returns to the community and feels the happiness of flowing in the same direction as them! "

Musils Ulrich longs above all to be at one with Agathe, who has been chosen to be his twin sister. Only with her, so Rasch, does the man without qualities give up the ironic distance that is otherwise maintained from any reality. "The sister is a reality that he affirms and loves without irony, without reservation."

“He felt as though it was himself who had come to the door and walked towards him: only more beautiful than himself and sunk in a shine in which he never saw himself. For the first time the thought struck him that his sister was a dreamlike repetition and change of himself; but since this impression lasted only a moment, he forgot it again. "

Agathe later speaks to Ulrich about the myth passed down through Plato , according to which the originally holistic human being was divided by the gods into two parts, namely man and woman. The remaining halves, she adds, are now "doing all sorts of stupid things to get into each other again"; the textbooks for higher education also reported on this; However, they do not contain information as to why this does not succeed. Ulrich gives Agathe the answer:

“Nobody knows which of the many halves that are running around is the one that is missing. He seizes one that seems to him to be and makes the most futile efforts to become one with it, until it is finally shown that it is nothing. If a child arises from it, both halves believe for a few years that they have at least united in the child; but that is only a third half that soon shows the desire to move as far as possible from the other two halves and to look for a fourth. In this way, humanity continues to 'halve' itself physiologically, and the essential unity stands like the moon in front of the bedroom window. "

As already shown, Musil's experience and reflection background in terms of the individual's striving for unification was not directed solely towards relationships of two. In his 1921 essay The Nation as Ideal and Reality , Musil classified the mass enthusiasm in the course of the mobilization of August 1914 as a “strange, religious experience” : “It also contained the intoxicating feeling of having something in common with every German for the first time to have. Suddenly one had become a particle, humbly dissolved into a supra-personal occurrence, and, enclosed by it, felt the nation almost bodily; it was as if mystical original properties, which, enclosed in one word, had slept through the centuries, suddenly awakened as real as the factories and offices in the morning. You have to have a short memory or a wide conscience in order to forget it later on. "

In the novel, it is Ulrich's childhood friend Walter, who ends up in a mass demonstration on the occasion of the parallel action, about which various rumors are in circulation:

“The people he met in large numbers reminded him of his dream; an impression of agile haste emanated from them, and a togetherness which seemed far more primordial to him than the usual one, provided by reason, morality, and prudent security, made them a free, relaxed community. […] But when, striding more rapidly, he soon came across a large group of police on standby, that did not cause any disturbance either, and the sight delighted him like a camp awaiting the alarm and with its many red collars, dismounted riders and the Movement of individual teams, who reported their entry or departure, excited his senses warily. […] You heard something you didn't understand, mutilated messages and waves of mute excitement ran from front to back, and people, depending on their nature and what they understood, felt indignation or fear, riot or a moral order and now pushed forward in a state in which they were guided by such quite ordinary ideas, which looked different in each, but in spite of their position dominating the consciousness meant so little that they united into a common common living force which was more focused on the Muscles acted than on the head. Even Walter, who was now in the middle of the train, was infected by it and soon got into an excited and empty state that resembled the beginning of an intoxication. One does not really know how this change comes about, which at certain moments turns idiosyncratic people into a willing mass, capable of the greatest exuberance in good and bad and incapable of reflection, even if the people who make it up are mostly you Have not looked after anything in a lifetime as moderation and prudence. "

"Accuracy and Soul"

In his career up to the holiday year scheduled for 1913, Musils Ulrich had achieved a good reputation as a mathematician and learned to appreciate the strictly scientific way of thinking. It is true that this horizon of knowledge aimed at accuracy was not enough for him; but the search for other ways of living - for the other state - was expressly based on this foundation and testing instrument that he must always retain. “Ulrich's mathematically inspired way of thinking”, says Rasch, “is always that of a man who is also accessible to the mystical experience of being, and his ecstatic participation in the world is always that of the mathematician. Both positions are in a complementary relationship that is not directed towards an alternative but towards a synthesis. […] “Ulrich live the attempt to combine both paths. "For him, one is not without the other." For example, Ulrich reflects on what this amounts to using the terms violence and love on the occasion of a new meeting of the meanwhile slightly thinned parallel society in the Tuzzi house:

“All that he possessed in the way of inclination towards evil and hardness lay in the word violence; it signified the outflow of all unbelieving, objective and alert behavior; After all, a certain hard, cold violence had played into his occupational inclinations, so that he might not have become a mathematician without intent on cruelty. It hung together like the thicket of a tree that hides the trunk itself. And if one does not only speak of love in the usual sense, but by its name longs for a state that is different, right down to the atoms of the body, from the state of love poverty; or when one feels that one has every quality in oneself as well as none; or if one is under the impression that only one's own kind happens because life is bursting with imagination of its here and now, but ultimately a very uncertain, indeed decidedly unreal state! - plunges into the few dozen cake pans that make up reality; or that there is a piece missing in all the circles in which we turn; that of all the systems that we have set up, none has the secret of rest: that too, no matter how different it looks, is connected like the branches of a tree that hide the trunk on all sides. "

By emphasizing neither the soul nor logic one-sided, according to Fuder, Musil is concerned with abolishing their polarization in a logic of transition. Musil was mainly interested in this transition for almost his entire life. As a link between the two spheres, Musil uses pictorial comparisons or parables. In the function of the tertium comparationis, you receive both the interchangeability and the respective substance. “The parable as well as the comparison unite what is separate and leave the unified separate.” Ulrich recognizes:

“Uniqueness is the law of waking thought and action […] The parable, on the other hand, is the connection of the ideas that prevail in the dream, it is the sliding logic of the soul to which the relationship of things in the premonitions of art and religion corresponds; But also, what there is of ordinary inclination and aversion, agreement and rejection, admiration, subordination, leadership, imitation and their counter-phenomena in life, these diverse relationships between people and nature that are not yet purely factual and perhaps also will never be, cannot be understood otherwise than in parables. "

When the parallel action came to a dead end and good advice was requested from Count Leinsdorf, Ulrich apparently suggested on his own mission:

"" Sublime, "he said," there is only one task for the parallel action: to form the beginning of a general intellectual inventory! We must do roughly what it would take if Judgment Day fell in 1918, the old spirit should be closed and a higher one should begin. In His Majesty's Name, Establish an Earth Secretariat of Accuracy and Soul; all other tasks are unsolvable beforehand or only dummy tasks! »"

In the confused parallel society, Ulrich is most likely to find understanding for this in Count Leinsdorf himself, but owes the slightly angry Arnhem the concretization of what he describes as “a kind of synthetic production of the real life”. He only found real resonance for his departure to the “other state” with Agathe, who, in her openness to the mystical, has less to pay attention to rational foundations than Ulrich, whose continuous, inhibiting cross-checks from the point of view of reason soon put a nervous strain on her. In the legacy chapter, Breaths on a Summer's Day , on which Musil was still fine-tuning shortly before his death, elements of a different state are impressively evoked. The siblings lie together on a garden meadow and, in doing so, reach the state of "daylight mysticism" intended by Musil:

“A noiseless stream of dull blossom snow floated through the sunshine, coming from a group of trees withered away; and the breath that carried it was so gentle that not a leaf moved. Not a shadow fell on the green of the lawn, but it seemed to darken from within like an eye. The trees and bushes, which were tenderly lavishly leafy from the young summer, which stood aside or formed the background, gave the impression of stunned spectators who, surprised and spellbound in their cheerful costumes, took part in this funeral procession and nature festival. Spring and autumn, language and silence of nature, magic of life and death mingled in the picture; the hearts seemed to stand still, to have been taken out of their chests, to join the silent pull through the air. […] As at that moment, the garden had already looked mysteriously deserted and animated, namely in the hour after the mystical confessions of her brother's books had fallen into her hand. Time stood still, a millennium weighed as lightly as opening and closing the eye, it had come to the millennial kingdom, perhaps God even gave himself to be felt. And while she felt one after the other , although there should be no more time ; and while Ulrich was next to her , so that she would not suffer fear in this dream , although there also seemed to be no more room, the world seemed, regardless of these contradictions, to be filled with transfiguration in every respect. "

Reception aspects

When volume I of The Man Without Qualities appeared just three weeks after Musil's 50th birthday in November 1930, the work was partly hymnically celebrated in newspaper reviews: “Here the great society novel is recreated in a classic breadth, serenity and thought by the highest educational mountain council. No book is so much the 'Wilhelm Meister' of our epoch as this novel: a rolling up of the clutter of ideas, a sifting through, a clarification ”, it said in the Vossische Zeitung . In the Berlin Börsen-Courier , Oskar Maurus Fontana said: “An unstoppable attack on our reality, presented by passionate bitterness and supported by a machine gun of irony. A gigantic panorama of our being. None of the German novels of the last few decades has been smarter and more intellectual, full of such a Latin clarity of thinking and feeling. "

On the occasion of the second volume delivered on December 19, 1932, Thomas Mann , who had anticipated Musil with the Magic Mountain and had given him a lot to think about with the parallelism of the plot approaching the First World War, highly appreciative of the work: “A poetic enterprise, whose decisive significance for the development, enhancement and spiritualization of the German novel is beyond doubt. This sparkling book, thank God, is no longer a novel - it is no longer because, as Goethe says, 'everything perfect in its own way must go beyond its time and become something else incomparable'. "

In National Socialist Germany , which was established soon after , Musil's works were not banned unceremoniously or even publicly burned like others ; but it has now been sidelined and increasingly forgotten, especially since the announced continuation of the novel no longer appeared. A few months after the annexation of Austria , he and his wife Martha left Vienna for Switzerland , where Musil was again mainly busy revising his manuscripts for the as yet unpublished parts of The Man Without Qualities .

Interest in Musil's main work resumed after only Musil's widow Martha and then Adolf Frisé had come to an interim result in their years of efforts to organize Musil's literary estate. In 1999 Gunther Martens commented on the research that was based on this, “that it is still worthwhile despite the industry of interpretation that has been grappling with the novel for 40 years and which has reached an unprecedented high in recent years. to examine the novel because you simply cannot read it to the end and so it can hardly be 'interpreted'. ”The multitude of interpretive approaches makes the selection and restriction to a few particularly striking aspects of reception inevitable.

Key work on author and epoch

The manifold similarities between the hero and the novelist did not only become aware of Musil's meticulous biographer Karl Corino while tracing his career and work; they were already thematized by contemporary acquaintances of Musil when dealing with The Man Without Qualities . Wolfdietrich Rasch, who, by his own admission, had several conversations with Musil in 1932, testified: “To a narrator like Ulrich, the environment appears from the perspective of total irony, in which every detail is given with reservations. In this way of seeing, as in general in the personal spiritual structure, Ulrich can be largely equated with Musil himself. Nevertheless, Ulrich as an overall figure is not simply a picture of Musil himself and not in every move. "

Schelling quotes Musil's diary “I want too much all at once! […] And I rarely know what I want ”, and notes:“ This word by Musil, which is one of his deepest and most terrifying self-insights, also applies to Ulrich. He would like to preserve the undivided totality of possibilities, from which all real possibilities and fulfillments are null and void. ”In the same motif context, Schelling refers to a consideration of Ulrich in The Man Without Qualities :

“Basically, in the mid-life years, few people know how they actually came to themselves, their pleasures, their worldview, their wife, their character, their job and their successes, but they have the feeling that they are not much more can change. It could even be said that they were betrayed, for nowhere can one discover a sufficient reason that everything turned out just as it did; it could have turned out differently; At least the events originated from themselves, mostly they depended on all kinds of circumstances, on the mood, the life, the death of completely different people, and, as it were, merely rushed towards them at the given moment. So in their youth life lay ahead of them like an inexhaustible morning, full of possibilities and nothing on all sides, and already at noon something suddenly appears that can claim to be their life now, and that is all in all as surprising as when one day suddenly someone sits there with whom you have corresponded for twenty years without knowing him, and you have imagined him completely different. "

Rasch sees Musil's work as a “true compendium of the intellectual currents of the time, a comprehensive balance sheet”, but it should not be understood as a mere description of a bygone era. It was not about the real explanation of a real occurrence for Musil, for whom the facts were “moreover always interchangeable”. In the novel, for example, Musil makes ample use of the availability of empirical facts when he settles in the Kakanien chapter "a kind of American city", "where everything hurries or stands still with a stopwatch in hand."

“Air and earth form an ant burrow, criss-crossed by the floors of the roads. Air trains, earth trains, underground trains, pneumatic post people, chains of motor vehicles rush horizontally, high-speed elevators pump crowds vertically from one traffic level to the other; one jumps from one musculoskeletal system to the other at the junctions, is sucked in by their rhythm […] without thinking, and hastily speaks a few words with each other in the intervals of this general rhythm […] one eats while moving, the pleasures are in pulled together in other parts of the city, and again elsewhere are the towers where you can find a wife, family, gramophone and soul. "

Mülder-Bach sees it as "the vision of a gigantic technical-social machine". Musil gives the doomed Kakanien of 1913 to be read in a certain sense as the “most advanced state” and as a “model of a posthistory”. For Hartmut Böhme Musil plays in the 1920s, spreading ideas and modes of perception of " Americanism " and " Fordism " consistently: mobility and massification of megacities , industrial proletariat and service society , the triumph of functionalism , design and metropolis . "What Musil brings into the picture in satirical exaggeration, as the quintessence of modernity, is the functionally differentiated capital, as it was discussed in the 1920s under the keyword" Americanism ", but which determined urban development until the 1970s."

When interpreting the novel, Seeger adheres primarily to Musil's guideline: "All lines lead to war." For him, Musil's narrative art is like starting up a machine from which "you can soon hear a steady and somewhat uncanny rhythm." The parallel action with its air numbers and castles in the air becomes the code for the illusionary downfall of the Austro-Hungarian monarchy when it plunged into the First World War. Seeger sees Musils Diotima as a forerunner in this regard at the beginning of the conference in her house:

“An indefinite, exciting feeling of happiness and expectation had lifted her all the time; now her spirit was like a well-worn, small, colorful children's balloon, which floats gloriously shining high against the sun. And in the next moment it burst. "

Calculated utopia attempt

What determines the doing and leaving of Musils Ulrich as a decisive motive is the search for the right life as an alternative to what was previously recognized as wrong. “It is this question of the right life that moves the novel hero Ulrich throughout the entire book,” Strelka states, “from his senseless preoccupation with the so-called“ parallel action ”to his interest in the murderer Moosbrugger and his attempt at redemption through Agathe up to creation his utopia of a motivated life. It is also this question of the right life that preoccupied the poet Robert Musil, the archetype of the reality of that autobiographical figure Ulrich, during his life, after he had given up three such youthful attempts to become an important person. "

In the chapters 61 The Ideal of the Three Treatises or the Utopia of Exact Life and 62 The Earth, but especially Ulrich, pays homage to the utopia of essayism , the conditions and nature of utopias in the sense of Ulrich and Musil are treated. According to Mülder-Bach, this is not about an ideal situation, but about the "experimental exploration of a possibility of life" - although it has already been created in reality, but has not developed due to the given circumstances. For Menges, the ideal of exactness results in the negation of immediate vividness and, in structural agreement with mathematics, “a striking tendency towards abstraction”. The abstract, however, is not only the intellectual and non-visual, but also the fantastic and the imaginary. Musil's concept of utopia resembles the function that he ascribed to poetry in a journal note: It is "a bridge that arches away from the solid ground as if it had an abutment in the imaginary."

How strong Ulrich's reinsurance endeavors are in terms of the scientific precision he has learned is shown when Agathe pursues his penchant for utopia, which she shares, and asks him what he believes in:

"" I believe that one can prove to me a thousand times for the valid reasons that something is good and beautiful, it will remain indifferent to me, and I will only be guided by the sign, whether its proximity makes me rise or fall. Whether it wakes me to life or not. Whether it's just my tongue and my brain talking about it or the radiant shudder of my fingertip. But I can't prove anything either. […] But I may think that in some time people will be partly very intelligent and partly mystics. Perhaps it will happen that our morality is already broken down into these two components. I could also say: in mathematics and mysticism. In practical amelioration and unknown adventure! " He hadn't been so openly excited in years. He didn't feel the "maybe" in his speech, they only seemed natural to him. [...] She heard how he carefully and again and again took back everything he let himself be carried away to, and his words hit her ear like big drops of happiness and sadness. "

Precht denies Musil's efforts to reflect on the utopian any serious intention to realize it in the reality of life: The utopias of exact, essayistic and motivated life outlined in the novel are “a purely literary game with various conceivable alternatives.” According to Pekar, the principle is on the one hand fundamental for Musil's novel concept the separation, for which the equals of the parallel society stands, and on the other hand the principle of union, as striven for by the "twin siblings". The utopian-mystical background for this was formed by Musil's poem Isis and Osiris from 1923 , which the author noted in his diary that it contained “in nucleo the novel”. The function of the moon goddess Isis, who saves the brother Osiris from the underworld, has for Ulrich Agathe in the novel, who is also associated with the moon several times. In the legacy chapter, the beginning of a series of wondrous experiences , Ulrich and Agathe find themselves in an unprecedented floating and weightless emotional state in which a rise and a fall can be felt at the same time. It is triggered by the fact that Agathe is surprisingly thrown up and caught again by her brother:

“But when Agathe overcame her fright and felt herself not both flying through the air but rather at rest in it, suddenly relieved of all gravity and instead guided by the gentle compulsion of the gradually slowing movement, it was one of those coincidences that nobody did in his power that in this state she felt wonderfully appeased, yes, removed from all earthly unrest; with a movement that changed the balance of her body, which she could never have repeated, she also stripped off the last silk thread of compulsion, continued to climb as it were in the fall and lay sinking down as a cloud of happiness in his arms. [...] They wrapped their arms around each other's shoulders questioningly. The brotherly and sisterly growth of the body was communicated to them as if they were rising from a root. They looked each other in the eye as curiously as if they were seeing something like this for the first time. And although they could not have told what had actually happened because their involvement in it was too ardent, they thought they knew that they had just for a moment suddenly found themselves in the middle of this common state, on the limit of which they had been for so long hesitated, which they have described to each other so often and which they only ever saw from the outside. "

The so-described "mobile equilibrium in which rising and falling are balanced out" is, for Mülder-Bach, a counter-image to the rigidification observed by Musil in politics and society. The happiness of the siblings thus becomes a figure of equilibrium and the balance of differences.

Endless novel

The material on the man without qualities that has been left behind , with which the published work should have been supplemented and completed, extends over more than a thousand pages in the version developed by Frisé. This includes the 20 galley chapters that Musil would have wanted to print after another extension in April 1938. This plan became obsolete when Nazi Germany took power in Austria on March 12; because after the just successful escape of his then publisher Gottfried Bermann Fischer , all chances for new printed publications for the time being vanished for Musil. In terms of content, according to Corino, nothing emerged from the approximately 300 targeted printed pages “that would have determined the author and his two main characters for a certain progression.” Instead, “Musil's greatest essayistic adventure that finally bursts the boundaries of the conventional novel - the writing of those chapters began on emotional psychology, which no other writer of this century could have dared to tackle and which he himself ultimately considered to have failed. "

For Mülder-Bach, the galley chapters show a “garden of paths that branch out unpredictably.” It is not clear how one could ever have got from one end to the other, although Musil was constantly working on it, “Branching and concatenation to aim towards an end ”. The constant attempt to link allegory floating positions and parable stories results in a fatal repetition compulsion. "It is also a terrible - and, last but not least, tormenting for the reader who exposes himself to it - suction, because repetition never leads to a decision of the floating positions, because it does not result in an» end of the road «."

Musil's “Journey to Paradise”, laid out by Musil as the turning point of the novel, in which Ulrich and Agathe complete the sexual union and find confirmation that the utopian “other state” cannot last, was already included in the early drafts of the novel ; however, since the mid-1920s it has been pushed back further and further in the concept and ultimately remained a fragment that was no longer edited. Musil no longer carried out not only the sobering outcome of sibling love, but also the confluence of the doomed Kakan bustle in the world war.

In its relativizing narrative style, Menges said, the novel does not offer a clear perspective “unless that of limitless openness.” The alleged lack of results is nothing more than “a consequence of the constant criticism and self-criticism that strive for extreme conscientiousness; it is the resultlessness of chronic reflection [...] Perspective relativism elevates that reflection to a permanent state, which tries again and again and without ending to assure the validity of our perceptions and reality concepts. ”Precht is also considering an inner logic of Musil's intentions the incompleteness of the novel: In a corresponding perspective, "the not only formal, but explicitly thematic categorical subjunctive of the novel" undermines every conceivable ending. Norbert Christian Wolf, who is based on Pierre Bourdieu's analysis of Gustave Flaubert's novel L'Éducation sentimentale , considers the word Bourdieu coined on Flaubert to be also applicable to Musil, according to which Flaubert relates to the totality of the literary universe into which he is inserted and all of its contradictions, difficulties and problems he takes on.

For Rasch, the non-fixability of the “other state”, around which Musil's thinking and writing does not cease to revolve, is a necessary experience and insight for the hero of the novel, “because precisely the possibility person is in danger of releasing himself from the firmly given to the impossible To lose. "The sense of utopianism, however," instead of dreaming of the never-feasible, to move towards the possible that could one day become reality. "Already from the point of view of Rasch, an inner fragmentarism of the novel was the cause of its incompleteness and justified an open conclusion: “In the highest responsibility a final answer to the question of the right life in this age cannot be given, not even suggested. But it is precisely the ignorance of this answer that makes it possible to pose the question as radically and uncompromisingly as is done in this novel. "

Literature / editions


  • The man without qualities. Vol. 1: Rowohlt, Berlin 1930 (1074 pages); Vol. 2: Rowohlt, Berlin 1933 (605 pages); Vol. 3: Rowohlt, Lausanne 1943 (462 pages).
  • The man without qualities. In: Collected Works, Vol. 1 . Edited by Adolf Frisé . Rowohlt, Reinbek bei Hamburg 1978, ISBN 3-498-04255-6 (2154 pages).
  • The man without qualities. Edited by Adolf Frisé. Vol. 1: First and Second Book. New through and verb. Edition Rowohlt, Reinbek bei Hamburg 1978. ISBN 3-499-13462-4 (TB Rororo 13462, 1040 pages). Vol. 2: From the estate. Rowohlt, Reinbek bei Hamburg 1978, ISBN 3-499-13463-2 (TB Rororo 13463, pp. 1045-2159).
  • The man without qualities. 4 vols. (As part of a Musil complete edition in twelve volumes), Jung und Jung, Salzburg 2016–2018.

Audio book / radio play

Digital editions

  • Klagenfurt edition. Annotated digital edition of all works, letters and legacies. With transcriptions and facsimiles of all manuscripts, ed. by Walter Fanta / Klaus Amann / Karl Corino. Robert Musil Institute, Klagenfurt 2009 (1 DVD).
  • The literary estate. CD-ROM edition. Edited by Friedbert Aspetsberge / Karl Eibl / Adolf Frisé . Rowohlt, Reinbek near Hamburg 1992 (hardly usable today due to the outdated software).

Secondary literature

  • Klaus Amann : Robert Musil - literature and politics. Reinbek near Hamburg 2007.
  • Karl Corino : Robert Musil. A biography. Rowohlt, Reinbek bei Hamburg 2003, ISBN 3-498-00891-9 .
  • Sibylle Deutsch: The philosopher as a poet. Robert Musil's theory of storytelling. Röhrig, St. Ingbert 1993, ISBN 3-86110-020-7 ( contributions to Robert Musil research and recent Austrian literature 5), (at the same time: Hannover, Univ., Diss., 1990).
  • Claus Erhart: The aesthetic person in Robert Musil. From aestheticism to creative morality. Institute for German Studies at the University of Innsbruck 1991, ISBN 3-901064-02-8 ( Innsbruck contributions to cultural studies. Germanistic series 43), (At the same time: Innsbruck, Univ., Diss., 1987).
  • Martin Flinker : Robert Musil: The man without qualities. In: Martin Flinker (Ed.): Flinker: Almanach 1958. Paris, Librairie Martin Flinker, December 1957, pp. 7-30. (Study on the occasion of the publication of the novel in French in the translation by Philippe Jaccottet, Ed. Du Seuil, Paris 1957)
  • Dieter Fuder: Thinking by analogy and anthropological difference. On the form and function of poetic logic in Robert Musil's novel “The Man Without Qualities” . Munich 1979.
  • Renate von Heydebrand: Ulrich's reflections in Robert Musil's novel “The man without qualities”. Their connection with contemporary thinking. Aschendorff, Münster 1966 ( Münstersche Contributions to German Literature 1, ISSN  0077-1996 )
  • Dietrich Hochstätter: The language of the possible. Stylistic perspectivism in Robert Musil's “Man without Qualities” . Frankfurt am Main 1972.
  • Claus Hoheisel: Physics and related sciences in Robert Musil's novel “The man without qualities”. A comment. Bochumer Universitätsverlag, 4th edition 2010. (Partly also: Dortmund, Univ., Diss., 2002)
  • Villö Huszai: Digitization and the utopia of the whole . Thoughts on the complete digital edition of Robert Musil's work. In: Michael Stolz, Lucas Marco Gisi, Jan Loop (eds.): Literature and literary studies on the way to the new media., Bern 2005 ( literary studies and new media ).
  • Stefan Jonsson: Subject Without Nation. Robert Musil and the History of Modern Identity. Duke University Press, Durham and London, 2000. ISBN 0-822-32551-9
  • Martin Menges: Abstract world and lack of characteristics. An interpretation of Robert Musil's novel The Man Without Qualities under the heading of abstraction. Frankfurt am Main 1982.
  • Inka Mülder-Bach: Robert Musil: The man without qualities. An attempt on the novel . Carl Hanser Verlag, 2013, ISBN 978-3-446-24408-5 .
  • Barbara Neymeyr : Psychology as a culture diagnosis. Musil's epoch novel "The Man Without Qualities". Universitätsverlag Winter, Heidelberg 2005. ISBN 3-8253-5056-8 (Also: Freiburg i. Br., Habil.-Schr., 2000, Part I).
  • Burton Pike, David S. Luft (Eds.): Robert Musil. Precision and Soul. Essays and Addresses. University of Chicago Press, Chicago IL 1990, ISBN 0-226-55408-2 .
  • Peter C. Pohl: Constructive Melancholy. Robert Musil's novel The man without qualities and the limits of modern gender discourse. Cologne u. a .: Böhlau 2011.
  • Richard David Precht: The sliding logic of the soul. Aesthetic self-reflexivity in Robert Musil's “The Man Without Qualities”. Metzler-Poeschel, Stuttgart 1996.
  • Wolfdietrich Rasch: About Robert Musil's novel “The man without qualities” . Göttingen 1967.
  • Ulrich Schelling: Identity and Reality with Robert Musil . Zurich and Freiburg i. Br. 1968.
  • Lothar Georg Seeger: The unmasking of the lie of life. An investigation into the crisis of society in Robert Musil's The Man Without Qualities . Bern and Munich 1969.
  • Joseph P. Strelka : Robert Musil. Perspectives of his work. Frankfurt am Main 2003.
  • Brigitta Westphal : Musil paraphrases. An artistic examination of Musil's “Man without Qualities”. = Musil paraphrases. An artist's approach to Musils “Man without Qualities”. Volume 2. With illustrations by Brigitta Westphal and a foreword by Karl Corino . Peter Lang, Bern 1999, ISBN 3-906761-90-8 .
  • Roger Willemsen : Robert Musil. From intellectual eros. Piper, Munich et al. 1985, ISBN 3-492-05208-8 (Piper 5208 series “Portrait”).
  • Norbert Christian Wolf: Kakanien as a social construction. Robert Musil's social analysis of the 20th century (= literary history in studies and sources. Vol. 20). Böhlau, Cologne et al. 2011, ISBN 978-3-205-78740-2 (also: Berlin, Freie Univ., Habil.-Schr., 2009).

Web links


  1. The first volume with the two parts "A kind of introduction" and "His like happens" was published in 1930, the second volume with the first part "Into the Thousand Year Reich (The Criminals)" in 1932. The estate became 1943 at the instigation of Musil's widow Martha published a third volume, which also contained the galley chapters, which Musil had revised several times, for the second part of the second volume, which was not published during his lifetime.
  2. This ironic term is introduced in Chapter 8 of the first part of the work. The Greek word κακός (kakós), dt. = Bad , can be understood as a negative evaluation by Musil.
  3. “When you climb up, you pass the same points again and again, turning over the sketched ground plan in the void. Like a spiral staircase. "(Robert Musil: Gesammelte Werke. Edited by Adolf Frisé . Prose and pieces, small prose, aphorisms, autobiographical matters, essays and speeches. Criticism. Reinbek 1978, p. 402. Quoted from Corino 2003, p. 51. )
  4. Corino 2003, pp. 23 and 31 f.
  5. ^ Corino 2003, p. 53.
  6. The man without qualities. Vol. 1. Ed. By Adolf Frisé . Reinbek near Hamburg 1978, p. 77. Corino 2003, p. 403.
  7. The man without qualities. Vol. 1. Ed. By Adolf Frisé . Reinbek near Hamburg 1978, p. 462. Corino 2003, p. 417.
  8. ^ Robert Musil: Letters 1901–1942. Edited by Adolf Frisé . Reinbek bei Hamburg 1981, p. 510. Quoted from Pfohlmann 2012, p. 103.
  9. Oliver Pfohlmann: Robert Musil. Reinbek near Hamburg 2012, p. 103.
  10. Oliver Pfohlmann: Robert Musil. Reinbek bei Hamburg 2012, p. 107. “Even in the winter of 1927/28, Musil is said to have sneaked around his desk for days, smoking. Without therapeutic help, he would not have been able to complete the first volume of his novel, the poet himself later admitted. [...] His problem was to decide on a definitive form from the many possible linguistic configurations of his thoughts. "(Ibid.)
  11. Oliver Pfohlmann: Robert Musil. Reinbek near Hamburg 2012, p. 68.
  12. "With all the indeterminate and indefinable, thought experiments, ambiguities and ambiguities that preoccupied Musil, there is, it seems to me, a constant in his discussion of politics, which also became a guideline for his writing," writes Klaus Amann: "Musil determined his political and his literary location implicitly and explicitly by not falling into the trap of affect again, not wanting to fall once again into the 'disease' of 1914." (Amann 2007, p. 42.)
  13. Amann 2007, p. 8.
  14. Amann 2007, p. 33.
  15. Hochstätter 1972, p. 78f.
  16. The man without qualities. Vol. 1, p. 150.
  17. Schelling 1968, p. 19.
  18. Rasch 1967, p. 79.
  19. The man without qualities. Vol. 1, p. 650. “The passage has achieved canonical validity. It is considered evidence of the 'disintegration of the great story' as a narrative confession of Musil and as a narrative balance sheet of the novel. "(Mülder-Bach 2013, p. 375)
  20. Jander treats the 39th chapter as an example: A man without qualities consists of qualities without a man . (Simon Jander: The aesthetics of the essayistic novel. On the relationship between reflection and narration in Musil's “The Man Without Qualities” and Broch's “Hughenau or Objectivity”. In: Zeitschrift für deutsche Philologie, edited by Werner Besch et al., 123. Volume 2004, fourth issue, p. 528 f. And 531 f.)
  21. Simon Jander: The aesthetics of the essayistic novel. On the relationship between reflection and narration in Musil's “The Man Without Qualities” and Broch's “Hughenau or Objectivity”. In: Journal for German Philology, edited by Werner Besch et al., 123rd volume 2004, fourth issue, p. 547 f. "The approaches of research tend", Jander complains, "to miss the specifically aesthetic potential of the essayistic process and to structurally underestimate the role of the epic and poetic." (Ibid., P. 537 f.)
  22. Amann 2007, p. 42. "His movens is doubt and his sting is the question mark, and that means constant revision and new starting points for writing." (Ders. 2007, p. 32)
  23. Precht 1996, p. 37. “Not only does such a hero open up an unmistakable freedom of reception, an uninterrupted relativization of the factual world by the reader from Ulrich's perspective. […] In the aesthetic actualization of the free availability of Ulrich's novel life, a life as reading, the reader himself becomes the hero of the novel. ”(Ders. 1996 ibid.)
  24. Schelling 1968, p. 63. “The expression is excellent, cunningly clever and in its inconspicuousness full of charm, much significant and at the same time amused by an ironic mood - a Musilian power word! [...] The third person is kept at a distance. What is his own kind and what his like does does not affect us. ”(Ders. 1968, p. 40.)
  25. Precht 1996, p. 15.
  26. Hochstätter 1972, p. 103f.
  27. The Man Without Qualities , ed. By Adolf Frisé, 6th edition Hamburg 1965, p. 1603. Quoted from Hochstätter 1972, 106f.
  28. Hochstätter 1972, p. 107.
  29. Rasch 1967, p. 101.
  30. The Man Without Qualities 1976, Volume 1, p. 32. Quoted from Strelka 2003, p. 77.
  31. a b Schelling 1968, p. 74.
  32. Rasch 1967, p. 100f.
  33. Hochstätter 1972, p. 102.
  34. The Man Without Qualities 1976, Volume 1, p. 16.
  35. Hochstätter 1972, p. 6f.
  36. Rasch 1967, p. 99.
  37. Precht's reading on this: “Time and with it Ulrich's novel life are, as it were, put into a state of emergency, a literary state of emergency that allows the hero to lead an aesthetic life freed from all constraints. […] Instead of programs, the text presents drafts, instead of resolutions, possibilities are calculated, instead of an imitation of real life there is the free play of the powers of knowledge, which is not restricted by anything. "(Precht 1996, p. 247)
  38. Menges 1982, pp. 12 and 104.
  39. Rasch 1967, p. 102.
  40. Fuder 1979, p. 75.
  41. Hochstätter 1972, p. 127f. Mülder-Bach remarks in this connection: “As a method, however, analogizing becomes a tightrope walk, threatening to fall into arbitrariness. According to Musil, the problem lies in the matter itself and cannot be solved by not confronting it in the first place. ”(Mülder-Bach 2013, p. 236)
  42. a b The Man Without Qualities 1976, Volume 1, p. 9.
  43. Precht 1996, p. 47.
  44. The Man Without Qualities 1976, Volume 1, p. 10.
  45. The Man Without Qualities 1976, Volume 1, p. 11.
  46. Mülder-Bach 2013, p. 20. "In an unprecedented linguistic compression a fantastic path is described, which starts, suspends and continues the fiction of a world at the same time." (Ibid.)
  47. Fuder 1979, p. 54. "The assignment of the sense of possibility and feeling as a possible determinant of reality is later an essential topic of reflection in Ulrich's notes, and Musil already mentions it as a problem in the opening chapter." (Ibid., P. 63)
  48. Rasch 1967, p. 107.
  49. Mülder-Bach writes: "A small semantic accident, a joke in which a notabile collides with a nihil sequitur ." (Mülder-Bach 2013, p. 67)
  50. Mülder-Bach 2013, p. 59.
  51. Mülder-Bach 2013, p. 66.
  52. Lothar Georg Seeger: The unmasking of the lie of life. An investigation into the crisis of society in Robert Musil's “The Man Without Qualities” , Bern and Munich 1969, p. 107.
  53. Rasch 1967, p. 108.
  54. “As soon as it suits him, Musil can spin new references at will without being tied to any psychological consistency. Irony and reflection have neutralized people into figures, consumed the substance of their being and now act as catalysts for this chemistry of figures. ”(Schelling 1968, p. 51)
  55. Strelka 2003, p. 54.
  56. "From here they are to be understood, only secondarily from their role in the novel-like processes, which is always secondary, just as the processes in general form a secondary layer of the novel." (Rasch 1967, p. 109)
  57. Thomas Pekar: Robert Musil for an introduction. Hamburg 2007. 1997, p. 118
  58. “For the project of a poetic encyclopedia this means that the characters appearing in the text get into a peculiar intermediate position. For if the people, true to the idiographic claim, prove to be stupid mouthpieces of the ideologies of the times that they represent, their plasticity is reduced to a minimum, which means that they are useless as illusory prescriptions. On the other hand, there is a need that their personal profile does not go beyond certain schematically prescribed limits, because then they lose their binding character typical of the time. "(Precht 1996, p. 146)
  59. Precht 1996, p. 174.
  60. The Man Without Qualities 1976, Volume 1, p. 47.
  61. Chapter 40: “A man with all qualities, but they are indifferent to them. A prince of the spirit is arrested, and the parallel action receives its honorary secretary. "( The man without qualities 1976, Volume 1, pp. 151-162)
  62. “As a moving point of view, the 'function' Ulrich dynamizes the text and confronts the reader with a multitude of positions, reflections and situations. Self-management and free staging availability are in the service of a universal mediation and connection strategy in which the individual repertoire elements of the text always develop new contexts in which the (life) text of the hero is in constant interplay between the perspectives as an exclusively subjunctive formulated. "(Precht 1996, p. 243f.)
  63. Thomas Pekar: Robert Musil for an introduction. Hamburg 2007. 1997, p. 120; Corino 2003, pp. 843-846.
  64. For this was Djavidan Hanum Musil inspiration (Corino 2003, pp 847-850).
  65. For the figure of Diotima, Musil was mainly based on Eugenie Schwarzwald (Corino 2003, pp. 860–863).
  66. Hermann Schwarzwald , Eugenie's husband, was the real person who Musil used as a foil in this case (Corino 2003, p. 864).
  67. “... he was surprised by the widespread need for a better world, hatched by the warmth of a great opportunity like insect eggs in a fire. With that, Se. Exalted not counted; he had expected a lot of patriotism, but he was not prepared for inventions, theories, world systems and people who demanded salvation from spiritual dungeons. ”( The man without qualities. Vol. 1. Ed. by Adolf Frisé . Reinbek near Hamburg 1978, p. 141) Musil Franz von Harrach and Aloys von Liechtenstein served as models for this figure (Corino 2003, p. 850).
  68. Arnheim stands for Walther Rathenau , whom Musil met personally in 1914; the name for the character refers to the Baron Arnheim in Oscar Wilde's comedy An Ideal Husband . (Precht 1996, p. 171f .; Corino 2003, p. 870).
  69. According to Corino, the living templates for Rachel can be found in the Black Forest household (Corino 2003, p. 868f.); Angelo Soliman was a real person of the 18th century who came from slavery to the service of Prince Lobkowitz, who made Musil into Arnhem's servant (Corino 2003, p. 876f.).
  70. Max Becher was the real person behind this figure and one of Musil's military instructors, with whom he maintained good contact until he emigrated from Austria in 1938. (Corino 2003, pp. 901–903) The further fate of the Musil figure General Stumm von Bordwehr is spun out by Wilhelm Muster in The Wedding of the Unicorns (1981).
  71. Thomas Pekar: Robert Musil for an introduction. Hamburg 2007. 1997, p. 155.
  72. Musil used the factual background of the murder of the casual prostitute Josefine Peer by Christian Voigt on the night of August 13-14, 1910. “In fact, it turns out that Musil invented very little in his Moosbrugger chapters and focused on the journalists who were present in the courtroom. "(Corino 2003, p. 882)
  73. Thomas Pekar: Robert Musil for an introduction. Hamburg 2007. 1997, pp. 144-148.
  74. Musil's actual childhood friend was called Gustav Donath; his psychiatrically ill wife was Alice Donath, daughter of the painter Hugo Charlemont . (Corino 2003, p. 293)
  75. “But since it was unfortunate that in the course of this marriage the mood of the times turned away from the old, Leo Fischel favorable principles of liberalism, the great models of freedom, human dignity and free trade, and reason and progress in the western world were displaced by racial theories and street catchphrases, so he did not remain unaffected. ”( The man without qualities. Vol. 1. Ed. by Adolf Frisé . Reinbek bei Hamburg 1978, p. 204) The personal templates for the Fischel family are again below to suspect that after the First World War, like Musil himself, he initially found shelter with Eugenie and Hermann Schwarzwald. (Corino 2003, pp. 891f.)
  76. This figure reflects Musil's inner confrontation with Georg Kerschensteiner . (Corino 2003, pp. 904-907)
  77. With this figure, Musil worked his way through to Friedrich Wilhelm Foerster without in-depth knowledge of the person, as Corino notes . (Corino 2003, pp. 907-911)
  78. Quoted from Precht 1996, p. 258.
  79. “A novel, which is subdivided into a number of smaller sections of meaning, creates numerous opportunities to relate different thematic complexes to one another; at the same time, each individual chapter models its own reference relation to the text summarized in the heading. […] In a pragmatic sense, breaking down the narrative into the variety of views of individual chapters has the advantage of being able to do without a myriad of transitional sentences, epic connecting phrases that suggest certain assignments where the novel is deliberately syntagmatic against any uniqueness and uniqueness how paradigmatic connections writes. "(Precht 1996, p. 263)
  80. Quoted from Fuder 1979, p. 9.
  81. Precht 1996, pp. 279f. and 287.
  82. ^ Robert Musil: Diaries . Volume 1, edited by Adolf Frisé, Hamburg 1976, p. 973. Quoted from Amann 2007, p. 32.
  83. Precht 1996, p. 151.
  84. ^ Robert Musil: Diaries . Volume 1, edited by Adolf Frisé, Hamburg 1976, p. 643. Quoted from Amann 2007, p. 32.
  85. Schelling 1968, p. 14.
  86. Mülder-Bach 2013, p. 266. “This tertium , which connects and divides at the same time, is linguistically an extremely inconspicuous being. It is nothing more than the connecting word "and". In the common abbreviation »kuk« it shrinks to a mere »u.«, But here, too, it does not deviate from its place or place »in between«. "(Mülder-Bach 2013, p. 270)
  87. Mülder-Bach 2013, p. 448; The man without qualities. Volume 2, 1978, p. 1104.
  88. a b Rasch 1967, p. 95.
  89. The man without qualities. Volume 1, 1978, pp. 233f.
  90. The man without qualities. Volume 1, 1978, p. 449.
  91. The man without qualities. Volume 1, 1978, pp. 448f.
  92. The man without qualities. Volume 1, 1978, pp. 360f.
  93. Schelling 1968, p. 38 f.
  94. The man without qualities. Volume 1, 1978, p. 445.
  95. The man without qualities. Volume 1, 1978, p. 483. “This aporia between historical intention and actual events constitutes the irreversible contradiction in the parallel action. The paradox that something happens under the sign of progress and at the same time produces its opposite finds its appropriate expression in Musil's formulation of "what happens to him". "(Fuder 1979, p. 73)
  96. Corino emphasizes that the Musil, who served as a living model for Stumm von Bordwehr, studied philosophy at the University of Vienna for six semesters, “certainly unusual for a general staff member and perhaps indicative of his ambitious attempt to" bring order to civil understanding " (MoE 370) ". (Corino 2003, p. 902)
  97. The man without qualities. Volume 1, 1978, p. 341 f.
  98. The man without qualities. Volume 1, 1978, p. 179 f. “The general had already looked behind the masks in his naive way and correctly identified the will for peace of the parallel action with the will to go to war hidden behind the given intentions with the motto“ Si vis pacem para bellum ”(180). It is also he who later, in the pacifist idea with which the young poet Feuermaul casts a spell over the parallel action, directly connects the great event that is emerging with the war. ”(Lothar Georg Seeger: The Unmasking of the Lie of Life A study of the crisis in society in Robert Musil's "The Man Without Qualities" , Bern and Munich 1969, p. 132)
  99. The man without qualities. Volume 1, 1978, p. 371 f.
  100. The man without qualities. Volume 1, 1978, p. 373 f.
  101. The man without qualities. Volume 1, 1978, p. 374.
  102. The man without qualities. Volume 1, 1978, p. 379 f.
  103. The man without qualities. Volume 1, 1978, p. 977.
  104. The man without qualities. Volume 1, 1978, p. 981.
  105. ^ Elisabeth Albertsen: Ratio and "mysticism" in the work of Robert Musil . Munich 1968, p. 89.
  106. Hochstätter 1972, p. 64.
  107. Menges 1982, p. 117.
  108. Menges 1982, p. 118.
  109. ^ Corino 2003, p. 890.
  110. The man without qualities. Volume 1, 1978, p. 76.
  111. The man without qualities. Volume 1, 1978, pp. 85 f.
  112. The man without qualities. Volume 1, 1978, p. 534 f. In terms of content, Ulrich's father takes the position "that a partially ill person can only be acquitted if it can be proven that among their delusions there have been those that - if they were not delusions - would justify the action or annul their criminal liability." Professor Schwung, on the other hand, "had made the assertion and demand that such an individual, in which the states of sanity and insanity, since they are legally incapable of coexistence, can only follow one another in rapid succession, is only to be acquitted if they relate to Let the individual volition prove that it was impossible for the inculpant to control it precisely at the moment of this volition. "(Ibid., p. 535)
  113. The man without qualities. Volume 1, 1978, p. 535.
  114. The man without qualities. Volume 1, 1978, p. 536 f.
  115. Fuder 1979, p. 75. "Ulrich's search for a methodology of life seeks to counter the separation from the whole with analog reflections on possible causes." (Ibid.)
  116. Fuder 1979, p. 86.
  117. The man without qualities. Volume 1, 1978, p. 899.
  118. The man without qualities. Volume 1, 1978, p. 900.
  119. Menges 1982, p. 232 f.
  120. The man without qualities. Volume 1, 1978, p. 129; Menges 1982, p. 237.
  121. Rasch 1967, p. 125.
  122. The man without qualities. Volume 1, 1978, p. 694.
  123. The man without qualities. Volume 1, 1978, pp. 903 f.
  124. Quoted from Amann 2007, p. 7.
  125. The man without qualities. Volume 1, 1978, pp. 625 and 627.
  126. "Only at the very edge of rational thinking, when everything that is knowable is known and every possibility has been thought through, is Ulrich ready to take the plunge." (Elisabeth Albertsen: Ratio and »Mystik« in Robert Musil's work . Munich 1968, p. 105)
  127. The man without qualities. Volume 1, 1978, p. 591 f.
  128. "In this respect he is the poet of the border, and he is the thinker of the border." (Fuder 1979, p. 37)
  129. Hochstätter 1972, p. 135 f.
  130. The man without qualities. Volume 1, 1978, p. 593.
  131. The man without qualities. Volume 1, 1978, p. 596 f.
  132. The man without qualities. Volume 1, 1978, p. 597 f.
  133. Rasch 1967, pp. 96-98.
  134. Corino is of the opinion that the "natural entrance" contained therein "is probably the most beautiful manifestation of that" day-bright mysticism "around which Musil's thinking revolved." (Corino 2003, p. 1435 f.)
  135. The man without qualities. Volume 2, 1978, p. 1240 f.
  136. Quoted from Corino 2003, p. 1004 f.
  137. Corino 2003, pp. 922-931.
  138. Quoted from Corino 2003, p. 1113.
  139. Gunther Martens: A text without end for the thinker. On the relationship between literature and philosophy in Robert Musil's “The Man Without Qualities” . Frankfurt a. M. 1999, p. 179. This applies not least to the components of Musil's “day-bright mysticism”. Musil's notes on the structure of the novel see the contrast between accuracy and soul already laid out in ancient Greece . With reference to this, theorists in the field of anthropology, like Peter Sloterdijk in his trilogy Spheres, refer to the man without qualities or are referred back to him (as Niklas Luhmann from the point of view of Robert Spaemann in: Paradigm lost: About the ethical reflection of morality. Niklas Luhmann's challenge to philosophy ).
  140. So also Wolf 2011, p. 20 f.
  141. “Musil never seemed so clear to me as an embodiment of Ulrich as in the circle of that small society into which we now entered. Ulrich's key already had the peculiar mixture of distance and affection, indissoluble loneliness and commitment, as did the passionate, but affect-free, not personally aggressive polemics that he handled in conversation. "(Rasch 1967, p. 16)
  142. Rasch 1967, pp. 10-16.
  143. Rasch 1967, p. 100. For detailed information: Wolf 2011, pp. 1152–1168.
  144. Schelling 1968, p. 68.
  145. The man without qualities. Volume 1, 1978, pp. 130 f .; Schelling 1968, p. 67.
  146. Rasch 1967, p. 122.
  147. The man without qualities. Volume 1, 1978, p. 31.
  148. Mülder-Bach 2013, p. 113.
  149. Hartmut Böhme : Fetishism and Culture - Another Theory of Modernity . Reinbek 2006, p. 146
  150. "Description of the time leading to the war must provide a basis ... Immanent description of the time that led to the catastrophe must form the actual body of the story, the context to which it can always withdraw, as well as the thought, which has to be taken into account in everything. "(Quoted from Seeger 1969, pp. 17 and 131)
  151. Seeger 1969, p. 21.
  152. The man without qualities. Volume 1, 1978, pp. 130 f .; quoted in Seeger 1969, p. 137.
  153. The man without qualities. Volume 1, 1978, p. 255: “Whenever, while writing mathematical and mathematical-logical treatises or studying the natural sciences, one would have asked him what goal he had in mind, he would have answered that there was only one question Thinking is really worthwhile, and that is that of the right life. "
  154. Strelka 2003, p. 50.
  155. Mülder-Bach 2013, p. 213, referring to The Man Without Qualities. Volume 1, 1978, p. 246.
  156. Menges 1982, p. 72.
  157. Quoted from Fuder 1979, p. 11. Wolf explains in an analogous context: “What distinguishes poetry from science is therefore not only the extent of its competence, but also the quality of its access: it is about the things to be known beyond it to find out what has become the subject of regulated knowledge in science. "(Wolf 2011, p. 1135)
  158. The man without qualities. Volume 1, 1978, p. 770.
  159. Precht 1996, p. 241.
  160. Thomas Pekar: Robert Musil for an introduction. Hamburg 2007. 1997, p. 150 f .; Mülder-Bach 2013, p. 313; Strelka 2003, p. 72.
  161. Mülder-Bach 2013, p. 426 f.
  162. The man without qualities. Volume 2, 1978, p. 1082 f.
  163. Mülder-Bach 2013, p. 428.
  164. Corino 2003, pp. 1271 and 1282.
  165. Corino 2003, p. 1267. “They balanced in Ullrichs Wiener Schlösschen with breakneck grace on the verge of the sexual fait accompli, according to Agathe's feeling:“ In the next moment it would have peeled our clothes off like a silver knife, without us even would have really lifted a finger. ”“ (Corino 2003, p. 1267 f .; The man without qualities. Volume 2, 1978, p. 1062)
  166. Corino 2003, p. 1268.
  167. Mülder-Bach 2013, pp. 432 and 435. Marcel Reich-Ranicki summed up his disdain for Musil's work with the formula: "Anyone who is not a masochist must surrender sooner or later." (Quoted from Wolf 2011, p. 20)
  168. ^ Elisabeth Albertsen: Ratio and "mysticism" in the work of Robert Musil . Munich 1968, p. 119 f. “The practice of“ evidence ”is very noticeable in the chapter constellations, in each case by the chapter number given to the trip. On the 31st XII. In 1931 the trip was still under number 48, around 1934 […] under number 70, and Frise's number 94 is perhaps by lucky coincidence that it is not all that wrong, the "journey" could possibly have been there in a fair copy of Musil, if one considers how far it would have been from the "breaths" to the point of departure. "(Ibid., p. 120)
  169. Menges 1982, p. 214.
  170. ^ Precht 1996, p. 255.
  171. And that, adds Wolf, makes reading such an epoch-making novel so exhausting. (Wolf 2011, p. 1150 f.)
  172. Rasch 1967, p. 134.
  173. Rasch 1967, p. 124.
  174. ^ BR radio play Pool-Musil, The man without qualities. Remix