Musil, Robert (1880–1942) By Hoecker, Arne
Robert Musil’s work stands out for its intellectually stimulating and at the same time challenging subtlety and diligence. The essayistic form of his writing, his critical and often self-reflexive style, and his ability to draw connections between disparate cultural and scientific discourses have contributed significantly to literary modernism. Although lacking wider acknowledgement during his lifetime, Musil’s extensive yet unfinished novel Der Mann ohne Eigenschaften (The Man without Qualities) (1930–1932) is nowadays considered one of the most important novels of the twentieth century. Born in the Austrian city of Klagenfurt, Musil spent most of his life in Vienna and Berlin. When Austria became part of the Third Reich in 1938, he and his Jewish wife Martha escaped to Switzerland, where he died in Geneva in 1942.