Robert Musil (6 November 1880 – 15 April 1942) was an Austrian writer. His unfinished novel The Man Without Qualities (German: Der Mann ohne Eigenschaften) is generally considered to be one of the most important modernist novels. However, the novel has not been widely read both because of its delayed publication and intricate, lengthy plot. It is, nonetheless, a significant literary achievement that foresaw the impending disaster in Europe after the first world war.

Musil was the son of engineer Alfred Edler von 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 family moved to Chomutov until October 1881, and in 1891 father was appointed to the chair of Mechanical Engineering at the German Technical University in Brno, and awarded a hereditary nobility in the Austro-Hungarian Empire shortly before it collapsed. He was a second cousin of orientalist Alois Musil.

Hermine Bergauer was the daughter of a Bohemian German engineer, Franz (Xaver von) Bergauer (3 December 1805, Hořovice – 11 October 1886, Linz).


Robert Musil Poems

Robert Musil Quotes

Only in the most unusual cases is it useful to determine whether a book is good or bad; for it is just as rare for it to be one or the other. It is usually both.
Robert Musil (1880-1942), Austrian author. [On Criticism], untitled essay draft, presumably before 1914, Robert Musil: Precision and Soul. Essays and Addresses, p. 43, ed. and trans. by Burton Pike and David S. Luft, Chicago: University of Chicago Press (1990).
Writing [for the novelist] is not an activity, but a condition. That is why one simply can't resume the work when one has a job and a free half-day. Reading is the conveyance of this condition.
Robert Musil (1880-1942), Austrian author. Diary entry, 1918-1921, vol. I, p. 470, Tagebucher, ed. Adolf Frise, trans. by Donald C. Rieche, Rowohlt (1976).
Each person is a graveyard of his thoughts. They are most beautiful for us in the moment of their birth; later we can often sense a deep pain that they leave us indifferent where earlier they enchanted us.
Robert Musil (1880-1942), Austrian author. Diary entry, date uncertain: 1899?-1905/06, vol. I, p. 51, Tagebucher, 2 vols., Ed. Adolf Frise, trans. by Donald C. Rieche, Rowohlt (1976).

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