Musil is one of those Great Authors I’ve always looked forward to reading one day but haven’t gotten around to; many of the writers I love most deeply come from that early part of the twentieth century and I have a fascination with the Austro-Hungarian Empire (all those languages!), so I expect to enjoy him when I finally read The Man Without Qualities (no, I’m not going to try reading him in German: life is too short). In the meantime, I’m happy to have Jerry van Beers’ Musil site; he’s been putting online everything he can find about and by Musil since 1997 (at first in Dutch, but he quickly added an English version), and it’s a real treasure trove. I got the link from wood s lot, who put up lots of Musil-related items yesterday (11.06.2005); my favorite snippet is:
“Our ancestors wrote prose in long, beautiful sentences, convoluted like curls; although we still learn to do it that way in school, we write in short sentences that cut more quickly to the heart of the matter; and no one in the world can free his thinking from the manner in which his time wears the cloak of language. Thus no man can know to what extent he actually means what he writes and in writing, it is far less that people twist words than it is that words twist people.
—Musil, from ‘The Paintspreader’ in Posthumous Papers of a Living Author, 1936