Robert Musil and The Man Without Qualities
On that day in 1913, Robert Musil opened his workbook and started to draw a map, annotated with the description of a maze of streets, squares and buildings in Vienna’s Third District. Seven years later he moved into this neighbourhood, where he could look from his study window over the Salm Palace, which served as a model for the house of his protagonist. Today the shadow of this early modernist novel falls alone and aloof across the landscape of 20th century European literature – visible from afar, uniquely outstanding and yet alien
and inaccessible. Inka Mülder-Bach invites us to rediscover The Man Without Qualities from a different perspective. Unlike previous interpretations, this essay looks beyond the characters, inner musings and contexts, concentrating instead on the terra incognita of its structure. Inka Mülder-Bach shows how the novel is built on a micrological structure, conveying and unravelling a world that has become impenetrable.