Robert Musil
Rowohlt, Hamburg, 1930, 1933, 1943, 1968, German
On 1 book list
Thomas Girst

The cover of the first edition of the first part of Robert Musil’s amazing literary undertaking that is The Man Without Qualities was devised by E.R. Weiss in 1930 for the publisher Rowohlt of Hamburg. Bauhaus and Russian constructivism come to mind. Simplicity and beauty.

Like many great things, the novel remained unfinished as Musil passed away in 1942 before its completion. Its scope and ambition is as breathtaking as it is beautiful. Musil could not let go. If it weren’t for the polite insistence of his publisher throughout the years, no installment of his major work would have seen the light of day during the writer’s lifetime. A reminder that books as well as the creative process behind them are a shared effort, engaging many, in constant need of passion and professionalism. Poetry is “emotion recollected in tranquility,” Wordsworth once said, while according to Blake, “only the road of excess leads to the palace of wisdom.” Both exercises are no solitary endeavors.

Also see The Man Without Qualities.


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