U r M nderstanding

Understanding Robert Musil
Allen Thiher
In this critical introduction to the major works of Austrian modernist writer Robert
Musil (1880–1942), Allen Thiher offers deft analysis of Musil’s short fiction, theater, and
essays, and his major novel, The Man without Qualities.
Thiher maps Musil’s development as a writer, illustrating how his work evolved in
response to catastrophic historical events such as World War I, the collapse of the
Austro-Hungarian Empire, and Hitler’s seizure of power. From this historical context,
Thiher traces how Musil began his career by writing a prescient first novel about ideological developments in German culture and, at the same time, a doctoral thesis on
scientific epistemology. Following his service in World War I, Musil began to view writing as his vocation and, during this early period in his literary career, he produced short
fiction, plays, and some of the most interesting essays on politics, ethics, and literature
to be published during the Weimar era. In exploring these writings as well as The Man
without Qualities, a work left unfinished upon Musil’s death in exile during World War II,
Thiher’s study plumbs the depths of Musil’s ambition and accomplishments and presents a concise interpretation of the lasting significance of the writer’s interrogations of
the foundations of modern European culture.
Understanding Modern European and Latin American Literature
James Hardin, series editor
July 2009, 368 pages
Method of payment:
_____ Check or money order: (payable to USC Press in United States dollars)
Credit Card: ____ American Express ____ Discover ____ Mastercard ____ Visa
Account number: _____________________________________ Exp. Date ________
Signature: ____________________________________________________________
Name (please print): ________________________________ Phone: ____________
Shipping Address: ______________________________________________________
Allen Thiher has taught at Duke University, Middlebury College, and the
University of Missouri and was twice
a visiting professor at Universität des
Saarlandes. He was also a Fulbright
lecturer at Sofia University in Bulgaria as well as a fellow at Clare Hall of
Cambridge University and a Guggenheim Fellow. Before his retirement to
Sofia, Thiher held a chair as Curators’
Professor of French at the University
of Missouri. He has written books on
Céline, Queneau, Kafka, French cinema,
literary theory, and intersections of
literature and science.
Send me ______ copy/copies
(cl, 978-1-57003-836-5, $59.95 each) ______
SC residents add 7% sales tax ______
Shipping and Handling* ______
TOTAL ______
*add $6.00 for first book,
$2.00 for each additional book
718 Devine Street, Columbia, South Carolina 29208
800-768-2500 • Fax 800-868-0740 • www.sc.edu/uscpress