Open Letters Monthly on Robert Musil and the NonModern

By | November 3, 2011

Open Letters Monthly has published a wonderful and thoughtful review of Mark M. Freed's Robert Musil and the NonModern, praising the book as "the most exciting reading to date of Musil’s experimental method, his essayism, and his uncompromising openness to the hope of a lived utopia." As reviewer David Winters describes Freed's project:

"Modern life sets itself up through a series of exclusions and oppositions; it severs the self from the world, art from science, reason from feeling, and so on. Everything grows increasingly specialized, so that the more modern we get, the more we’re caught up in an escalating state of alienation. Freed’s remarkable study, Robert Musil and the NonModern, maps a terrain that’s at odds with all this, using Musil to call into question some of our basic assumptions about what it means to be modern. In this account, Musil isn’t so much a modernist (let alone a postmodernist) as someone who writes from both within and without, always ‘on the margins’ of any such absolute categories. His is a literature of the ‘nonmodern’; one which refuses to recognize modern conceptual boundaries. In short, The Man Without Qualities sets out to shake up all of the modern world’s ‘purified distinctions.’"

Read the full review here:

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