Robert Musil

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Robert Mathias Edler von[1] Musil (November 6, 1880 - April 15, 1942) was an Austrian writer. His unfinished long novel The Man Without Qualities (German: Der Mann ohne Eigenschaften) is generally considered to be one of the most important modernist novels.



Musil was the son of Alfred Edler von[1] Musil (1846, Temesvár - 1924) and his wife Hermine Bergauer (1853, Linz - 1924), who lived together with an unrelated "uncle" Heinrich Reiter (born 1856), the houseguest in the Musil family. The elder Musil was an engineer, firstly family moved to Chomutov til October 1881, and appointed in 1891 to the chair of Mechanical Engineering at the German Technical University in Brno, and awarded a hereditary peerage in the Austro-Hungarian empire shortly before it collapsed. He was a second cousin of Alois Musil, the famous orientalist[2]

Hermine Bergauer was a daughter of a Bohemian German engineer Franz (Xaver von) Bergauer (December 3, 1805, Horschowitz - October 11, 1886, Linz)[3]


The young Musil had a short stature, but was strong and skilled at wrestling, and by his early teens already more than his parents could handle. Accordingly they sent him to military boarding school at Eisenstadt (1892-1894) and then Hranice, in that time also known as Mährisch Weißkirchen, (1894-1897). These school experiences are reflected in his first novel, Die Verwirrungen des Zöglings Törless (The Confusions of Young Törless).

After graduating as a cadet, Musil briefly studied at a military college in Vienna during the fall of 1897, but then switched to engineering, joining his father's department at Brno. During his college career he studied engineering by day, but at night read literature and philosophy, and went to the theater and art exhibits. Nietzsche, Dostoyevsky, Ralph Waldo Emerson, and Ernst Mach were particular interests of his college years. Musil finished his studies in three years, then in 1902-1903 served as an unpaid assistant to Professor Julius Carl von Bach, in Stuttgart. During this time he began work on Young Törless.

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