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Die Verwirrungen des Zöglings Törleß

review Die Verwirrungen des Zöglings Törleß

Like his contemporary and rival Sigmund Freud Robert Musil boldly explored the dark irrational undercurrents of humanity The Confusions of Young Törless published in 1906 while he was a student uncovers the bullying snobbery and vici IntroductionNote on the TextSelect BibliographyA Chronology of Robert Musil The Confusions of Young Törless Explanatory Notes

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Ous homoerotic violence at an elite boys academy Unsparingly honest in its depiction of the author's tangled feelings about his mother other women and male bonding it also vividly illustrates the crisis of a whole society where the br That moment when you realize that having your head in the clouds is not always a good thing In short the confusions of Young Torless are the confusions of all who wonder how the seemingly rational person can become embroiled in the heinous But also And suddenly and it seemed to him as if it had happened for the very first time Torless became aware of how incredibly high the sky was It was almost a shock Straight above him shining between the clouds was a small blue hole fathomlessly deep He felt it must be possible if only one had a long long ladder to climb up and into it But the further he penetrated raising himself on his gaze the further the blue shining depth receded And still it was as though some time it must be reached as though by sheer gazing one must be able to stop it and hold it The desire to do this became agonizingly intense 87 Young Torless is a thoughtful youth and by that I mean that his head is full of the thoughts typical of youth of conventional nascent navel gazers Not thoughts for others but the poetry of self indulgence The things that occur to people when they have a surfeit of time and a dearth of responsibility Yet none are sustained for long enough to be useful and are abandoned at the first vertiginous point Now Torless began to think about this making an effort to be as calm and rational as he could 'Of course there is no end' he said to himself 'it just keeps going on and on forever into infinity' He kept his eyes fixed on the sky saying this aloud to himself as though he were testing the power of a magic formula 87 88 One might be tempted to glimpse one's own early musings in this military boarding school boy Who hasn't been startled by the concept of imaginary numbers Who hasn't experienced the shock of starting with concrete operations lapsing into impossibilities of i suspending disbelief long enough to find a couple of canceling suares for your nasty roots and coming out on the other side with something both intelligible and meaningful Who hasn't thought that reading philosophy was pointless because Kant already nailed it all down in a couple of dusty tomes But it was no use; the words meant nothing or rather they meant something uite different as if while dealing with the same subject they were taking it from another side one that was strange unfamiliar and irrelevant 'Infinity' But now it flashed through him with startling clarity that there was something terribly disturbing about this word It seemed to him like a concept that had been tamed and with which he himself had been daily going through his little circus tricks; and now all of a sudden it had broken loose Something surpassing all comprehension something wild and annihilating that once had been put to sleep by some ingenious operation had suddenly leapt awake and was there again in all its terrifying strength There in the sky it was standing over him alive and threatening and sneering 88 It is the re reading of precisely these lines that points up what I find utterly terrifying about this book Torless' descent is than one of complaisance or complicity it must be recognized as commissive simplified Torless and two other classmates Reiting and Beineberg torture a younger weaker coeval by physical beatings sexual assaults mental abuse though I can see Torless' defense attorneys reading for a plea down What makes matters even repugnant is the ease with which the perpetrators dista

Robert Musil Ó 4 Summary

Eakdown of traditional values and the cult of pitiless masculine strength were soon to lead to the cataclysm of the First World War and the rise of fascism A century later Musil's first novel still retains its shocking prophetic power “At that moment he didn’t like mankind the grown ups the adults He never liked them when it was dark At such times it was his habit to think mankind away Then the world would seem like a dark empty house and he felt a shudder inside himself as if now he had to search through room after room—dark rooms where you didn’t know what was hidden in the corners—feeling his way across the thresholds where no foot would tread any apart from his until in one room the doors in front of and behind him would suddenly close and he would be facing the mistress of the black hordes herself And at that moment all the locks of all the other doors he had come through would shut and far beyond the walls the shadows of the darkness would stand watch like black eunuchs keeping out all human contact” The Confusions of Young Törless was one of those haunting harrowing works that gouged its way into my bones It rent and dissevered my mind and I fucking loved it for that It altered my inner landscape; I will carry it with me always Within the first 10 pages I was already asking myself “How the shit have I not heard of this before” Musil’s voice was that astonishingThe book was an instant favorite The species of searing devastating sensation it evoked in me has become far rarer the older I get And aren’t these chance encounters precisely why we continue to pursue literature We are hooked on this elusive indescribable feeling this inimitable spark this jolt There’s nothing else like it Törless provided me with one of these unforgettable reading experiences and for that I’m tremendously grateful You all know the kind of experience I’m talking aboutDue to the profound influence it had on me this is one of those books I can’t ever hope to properly explain or do any justice to in a review I usually refrain from even attempting reviews in cases like these And yet I can’t stop myself from spewing out all of these wretched useless syllables anyway though my words are already pissing me off with their contemptible insufficiency Interestingly enough the notion of the inadeuacy of words is actually examined rather extensively in this book Ironically Musil describes the at times unbearable limitations of language in a staggeringly elouent fashion His formidable word wielding really blew me away He included a related uote from Maurice Maeterlinck at the beginning of the book which set the tone for this theme admirably “As soon as we put something into words in a strange way we devalue it We think we have plunged into the depths of the abyss and when we return to the surface the drop of water glistening on our pale fingertips no longer resembles the sea from which it comes We imagine we have discovered a cave full of wonderful treasures and when we return to the light of day we find that all we have brought back is false jewels and shards of glass; and yet the treasure continues to gleam in the dark unaltered” Below is one of Musil’s descriptions of what it feels like when you’re searching for the right word or phrase and it continually eludes you You despair and yet you can’t seem to stop trying though you know that it’s hopeless and that you’re only torturing yourself See also my experience writing this excruciating review Sometimes you’ve just gotta love banging your head against the wall Such delectable masochism “It was as if he had to carry out a never ending Diary of a Soccer Star traditional values and Gind: The Magical Adventures of a Vanara the cult of pitiless masculine strength were soon Mirror City to lead Penguin Dictionary of Alternative Medicine to Moti Mahal Cookbook,The: On The Buttter Chicken Trail the cataclysm of Wild Child and Other Stories the First World War and Another Time, Another Place the rise of fascism A century later Musil's first novel still retains its shocking prophetic power “At Pitch It! that moment he didn’t like mankind Hindutva Hate Mail the grown ups A Life Lived Later: Poems the adults He never liked Mango-Coloured Fish them when it was dark At such Prithviraj Chauhan: The Emperor of Hearts times it was his habit Red Lipstick: The Men in My Life to Ayodhya Kand Part 1 think mankind away Then Rites of Passage the world would seem like a dark empty house and he felt a shudder inside himself as if now he had Leadership @ Infosys to search The Emergency: A Personal History through room after room—dark rooms where you didn’t know what was hidden in Sahir and Jaadu the corners—feeling his way across Amitabh: The Making of a Superstar the Rediscovering Dharavi: Stories From Asia's Largest Slum thresholds where no foot would The Sky of Afghanistan tread any apart from his until in one room The Night of Kaamini the doors in front of and behind him would suddenly close and he would be facing Clearing a Space: Reflections on India, Literature and Culture the mistress of Why Loiter?: Women and Risk on Mumbai Streets the black hordes herself And at Ambushed that moment all Dateline Islamabad the locks of all Sorry, Best Friend! the other doors he had come Fear and Forgiveness: The Aftermath of Massacre through would shut and far beyond The Concert the walls It's a Mom!: What You Should Know About the Early Years of Motherhood the shadows of Satyr of the Subway the darkness would stand watch like black eunuchs keeping out all human contact” The Confusions of Young Törless was one of The Distorted Mirror: Stories, Travelogues, Sketches those haunting harrowing works Yuva India: Consumption and Lifestyle Choices of a Young India that gouged its way into my bones It rent and dissevered my mind and I fucking loved it for Daughters: A Story of Five Generations that It altered my inner landscape; I will carry it with me always Within Making The Minister Smile the first 10 pages I was already asking myself “How Dalit Millionaires 15 Inspiring Stories the shit have I not heard of The God of Small Things - Arundhati Roy this before” Musil’s voice was Finger Pointing to the Moon: Discourses on the Adhyatma Upanishad that astonishingThe book was an instant favorite The species of searing devastating sensation it evoked in me has become far rarer Dalit Millionaires: 15 Inspiring Stories the older I get And aren’t NINE - Curse of the Kalingan these chance encounters precisely why we continue Chutnefying English: The Phenomenon of Hinglish to pursue literature We are hooked on Let's Play: Puffin Book of Sports Storie this elusive indescribable feeling Legal Confidential: Adventures of an Indian Lawyer this inimitable spark Bihar Is in the Eye of the Beholder this jolt There’s nothing else like it Törless provided me with one of Fade Into Red these unforgettable reading experiences and for Gifted : Inspiring Stories of People with Disabilities that I’m A Bottle Of Dew tremendously grateful You all know The Ledge Between the Streams the kind of experience I’m The Lamp is Lit: Leaves from a Journal talking aboutDue Ferry Crossing: Short Stories From Goa to Coach the profound influence it had on me Out of the Box: Watching the Game We Love this is one of How to Prepare for the Coming Persecution those books I can’t ever hope Restart: The Last Chance for the Indian Economy to properly explain or do any justice When the Penny Drops: Learning What's Not Taught to in a review I usually refrain from even attempting reviews in cases like The Way Home: Contemporary Bengali Short Fiction these And yet I can’t stop myself from spewing out all of Paro: Dreams Of Passion these wretched useless syllables anyway Out of the Box: Watching the Game We Love though my words are already pissing me off with We Weren't Lovers Like That their contemptible insufficiency Interestingly enough Caravans: Indian Merchants on the Silk Road (Indian Merchants on the Silk Road) the notion of Ladies, Please!: Dating Truths by a Man the inadeuacy of words is actually examined rather extensively in The Girls From Overseas this book Ironically Musil describes Managing radical change: What Indian companies must do to become World-class the at Welcome To Americastan times unbearable limitations of language in a staggeringly elouent fashion His formidable word wielding really blew me away He included a related uote from Maurice Maeterlinck at Dalchini Ke Jungle (Hindi) the beginning of Anatomy Of An Abduction the book which set A Short History of Congress Chamchagiri the Red Lipstick tone for Indian Railways: The Weaving of a National Tapestry this A Cure For Laziness theme admirably “As soon as we put something into words in a strange way we devalue it We Romancing with Life (Book & DVD) think we have plunged into Dals the depths of How It Happened the abyss and when we return Heaven Texas: un posto nel tuo cuore to Fun in Devlok the surface Me and My Plays the drop of water glistening on our pale fingertips no longer resembles Going Places: India's Small-Town Cricket Heroes the sea from which it comes We imagine we have discovered a cave full of wonderful The Department of Denials treasures and when we return A Chola Adventure: Girls of India to Gunda Dhur Ki Taalash Mein (Hindi) the light of day we find The Best of Tenida that all we have brought back is false jewels and shards of glass; and yet Many Roads through Paradise: An Anthology of Sri Lankan Literature the Pakistan's Nuclear Bomb: A Story of Defiance, Deterrence and Deviance treasure continues Entrances: An American Director's Journey to gleam in Keys to inner space the dark unaltered” Below is one of Musil’s descriptions of what it feels like when you’re searching for The Book of Why: The New Science of Cause and Effect the right word or phrase and it continually eludes you You despair and yet you can’t seem The Gospel in Disney to stop The Breath of Dawn trying Cahier D'Activites to Accompany Pause-Cafe Cahier D'Activites to Accompany Pause-Cafe though you know Conflicts of Interest: My Journey through India’s Green Movement that it’s hopeless and Gayab Hota Desh (Hindi): that you’re only Seeking An Inner Refuge torturing yourself See also my experience writing Suleiman Charitra this excruciating review Sometimes you’ve just gotta love banging your head against Indian Folktales And Legends the wall Such delectable masochism “It was as if he had Steps in Darkness to carry out a never ending


10 thoughts on “Die Verwirrungen des Zöglings Törleß

  1. says:

    the place is an exclusive all boys boarding school in Austria the time is the turn of the 19th century three boys Törless Beineberg and Reiting Reiting is an amiable energetic sort; his aggressive nature is balanced by his charm and ease in the world Beineberg is an anti intellectual intellectual; much like his father he yearns to be a mystic in Törless still waters run deep and much of the material world holds little interest for him; contemplation and melancholy are his hallmarks what are three such precocious lads to do with themselves? there is the village whore to spend time with but these boys' interests go further what to do what to do? how about find a fellow schoolchum learn about his weaknesses and then grind him into nothing; torment and humiliate beat sexually abuse and so there is a fourth boy Basini the three boys play with him The Confusions of Young Törless was published in 1906 by Robert Musil apparently it is autobiographical in nature it is a philosophical treatise and a classic coming of age novel although the novel's narrative is centered around the endless debasement of the passive Basini that degradation is not at all the novel's primary concern it is there in the title the book is about confused young Törless his uest for logic in an illogical world and his need to uantify the ineffable and his barely understood desire for transcendence for an escape from small minds and fixed roles and dualistic morality a boy will fight against his surroundings he will struggle with authority figures he will be cynical without experiencing enough of the outside world to earn that cynicism a boy will rationalize or a boy will simply choose not to think about things that disturb him a boy will strive a boy will yearn a boy will barely understand himself but a boy will try and he may force others to do the same there are worms a worm is a symbol of decay or rebirth? a cord dangling from drapes looks like a writhing worm in the moonlight there is a red worm of blood that trickles down Basini's facethere is an eye; Törless sees it in the boys' secret hideaway it is an eye made of dust motes and shadows and dim shafts of light he sees it in the midst of one of Basini's beatings he contemplates it what does this eye behold? what is the story of this eye?there are windows windows are a window to the unknown; Törless stares through many windows windows are a window to memory; Törless recalls sounds he once heard through windows the sky is a window; Törless stares at the sky and is filled with awe wonder and fear Törless is a thinker Törless is a dreamer Törless has disturbing feelings some about his mother some about the local whore some about Basini Törless has hallucinatory dreams with meanings he can only slightly grasp he tries to share these feelings these dreams but no one ever understandsTörless Törless Törless oh Törless you and your yearning your dreams fuck you Törless of the three boys I think you are the worst Reiting likes Basini to read him stories about conuering heroes; then he fucks and beats him Beineberg likes to use Basini as a footrest make him bark like a dog beat him; sometimes he fucks him Törless asks Basini searching uestions about how he feels what is going on inside of him while all of this is happening; he makes Basini speak when Basini would rather cry; sometimes he fucks him guess who Basini falls in love with? Reiting and Beineberg's motivations are banal despite Beineberg's laughably pretentious attempt to intellectualize his predations they are cruel boys who enjoy brutalizing someone under their thumb Törless is not like them he's a sensitive lad he wants to understand many things imaginary numbers and order vs chaos and the logic of dreams unlike his friends he is not a malevolent sort and his sexual arousal at Basini's tortures confuse him poor confused Törless Basini means nothing to him he considers him to be meaningless except as one of many puzzles he is desperate to figure out fuck you Törless your confusions are nothing compared to what you and your buddies dole out the problem with this thoughtful absorbing boring poetic mechanistic frustrating compelling often brilliant novel is that it is exactly like its title character it is not about the debasement and Törless' key role there it is all about our protagonist's struggle his inner life well it was a bit hard for this reader to focus on such things when throughout all of the philosophical musings are brief descriptions of the boys' predations the intellectualization of such acts their use as metaphor all the world's a play and we are merely actors on a stage what goes on behind the curtain and within a mind honestly I don't give a flying fuckeroo about all that when some weak kid is getting destroyed by stronger kids you used the wrong metaphor Musil all the philosophical musings I would say 90% of the novel were rendered obnoxious and uninteresting after it became clear that Musil himself is disinterested in what is happening to Basini like the novel's protagonist the author also views Basini as meaningless Musil you are like Törless you make that crystal clear and that is not a good look


  2. says:

    Readers who associate boarding school fiction with sneaky midnight feasts harmless pranks or wizardry may come to find the introspection of young Törless’s education not only shocking but also too dense Musil is not so much interested in investigating the exterior world of the protagonist and chooses instead to look deeply into the psychological and moral awakening of youth Young Törless drifts through interior monologue to dreamlike seuences to the horrors of life away from home where punishment is dished out by some nasty little brats that were deplorable I wanted to drop them down a deep well But If I'm honest I didn't really like anybody and it didn't come as a surprise to me either Törless was clearly sexually speaking in a muddle and afraid to confront his own feelings and desires He seems to suggest that for one to live a normal life one must regulate the depth to which one wants to explore one's desires or the extent to which one wants to obey them Yet the he refuses to interrogate those feelings that draw him closer to his friend the deeper the internal torments In a way it's interesting that parts of the novel can be seen as an early indication to the rise of fascism and it's written well enough which I expected anyway but I found there really wasn't much to like especially the second half If I had to write down a list of things I wouldn't want to read about again then sadistic bullying would definitely be somewhere near the top


  3. says:

    IntroductionNote on the TextSelect BibliographyA Chronology of Robert Musil The Confusions of Young Törless Explanatory Notes


  4. says:

    That moment when you realize that having your head in the clouds is not always a good thing In short the confusions of Young Torless are the confusions of all who wonder how the seemingly rational person can become embroiled in the heinous But also And suddenly and it seemed to him as if it had happened for the very first time Torless became aware of how incredibly high the sky was It was almost a shock Straight above him shining between the clouds was a small blue hole fathomlessly deep He felt it must be possible if only one had a long long ladder to climb up and into it But the further he penetrated raising himself on his gaze the further the blue shining depth receded And still it was as though some time it must be reached as though by sheer gazing one must be able to stop it and hold it The desire to do this became agonizingly intense 87 Young Torless is a thoughtful youth and by that I mean that his head is full of the thoughts typical of youth of conventional nascent navel gazers Not thoughts for others but the poetry of self indulgence The things that occur to people when they have a surfeit of time and a dearth of responsibility Yet none are sustained for long enough to be useful and are abandoned at the first vertiginous point Now Torless began to think about this making an effort to be as calm and rational as he could 'Of course there is no end' he said to himself 'it just keeps going on and on forever into infinity' He kept his eyes fixed on the sky saying this aloud to himself as though he were testing the power of a magic formula 87 88 One might be tempted to glimpse one's own early musings in this military boarding school boy Who hasn't been startled by the concept of imaginary numbers? Who hasn't experienced the shock of starting with concrete operations lapsing into impossibilities of i suspending disbelief long enough to find a couple of canceling suares for your nasty roots and coming out on the other side with something both intelligible and meaningful? Who hasn't thought that reading philosophy was pointless because Kant already nailed it all down in a couple of dusty tomes? But it was no use; the words meant nothing or rather they meant something uite different as if while dealing with the same subject they were taking it from another side one that was strange unfamiliar and irrelevant 'Infinity' But now it flashed through him with startling clarity that there was something terribly disturbing about this word It seemed to him like a concept that had been tamed and with which he himself had been daily going through his little circus tricks; and now all of a sudden it had broken loose Something surpassing all comprehension something wild and annihilating that once had been put to sleep by some ingenious operation had suddenly leapt awake and was there again in all its terrifying strength There in the sky it was standing over him alive and threatening and sneering 88 It is the re reading of precisely these lines that points up what I find utterly terrifying about this book Torless' descent is than one of complaisance or complicity it must be recognized as commissive simplified Torless and two other classmates Reiting and Beineberg torture a younger weaker coeval by physical beatings sexual assaults mental abuse though I can see Torless' defense attorneys reading for a plea down What makes matters even repugnant is the ease with which the perpetrators distance themselves from the victim and the detachment of the adult rectors who seem eager to latch onto some muddy metaphysical rationalizations during the proceeding farcical inuest The sum is the disconcerting feeling of staring into an evil abyss which is rendered all the stomach churning by its banality Or maybe it's just the passivity of the individual infected by the sickness of herd? Here Reiting discusses changing the tactics for abusing the victim shifting from individualized brutality to mob blindness lines which I believe are responsible for the book's blurb claiming that this work prefigured the rise of Nazism at least from a group psychological standpoint We can turn it over in our minds polish it up and keep on adding new refinements Without the appropriate details it's still a bit of a bore for the present Perhaps we'll hand him right over to the class to deal with That would be the most sensible thing to do If each one of so many contributes even a little it'll be enough to tear him to pieces And anyway I have a liking for these mass movements Nobody means to contribute anything spectacular and yet the waves keep rising higher and higher until they break over everyone's head You chaps just wait and see nobody will lift a finger but all the same there'll be a terrific upheaval Instigating a thing like that gives me really uite particular pleasure 174 175 Awful stuff Gah So how can I rate this four stars? I guess it is simply this Musil's prose which the book's blurb so accurately describes as claustrophobic and poetic is immersive and engaging The reader is bound and horrified Further I've never been able to understand the phrase the banality of evil Now I mightNote I read the Wilkins and Kaiser Englishing which was so good I forgot I was reading a translation


  5. says:

    The Confusions of Young Torless is an incredible book reminiscent at times of Rilke in its ability to wrestle with complex spiritual and psychological themes Reading this book was like constantly trying to grasp something slightly abstract slightly out of reach though very human and real and rooted in language This is an ambitious though short book an extremely thoughtful and difficult readMaybe it is fitting that the book is so hard to describe since one of its main themes is the ineffable ness of certain human experience One thing the book is NOT about however is the devastating effects of the abuse of power as it states in the back of the book Sure that's what happens but the author's focus seems determinedly off always in the head of young Torless who approaches the events that unfold with a much deeper and complex inuisitiveness than the simple moral lessonparable suggested in that blurbAt the center is the metaphor of imaginative numbers Torless learns of them in math class and spends some pages thinking about how we can start with something completely real apply an element that does not exist to it but we pretend it does temporarily just for the sake of conjecture and that the logical result of that because the imaginative numbers eventually cancel each other out on both sides of the euation is a real result But that the bridge between the two real worlds is one that's completely made upThis metaphor though not always explicitly stated can be applied to many of the themes in this book the way our conceptions of self are propped up by a set of lies we tell ourselves the way we conduct our lives in the daytime differently from at night though we need the night as a bridge to get to the next day the way we can be completely rational with our thoughts even though we are essentially emotional and irrational beingsThe confusion of young Torless becomes our confusion as he thinks obscurely about these themes among many others guilt shame pride sexuality the contradictions of the self coherence between mind body and soul and how we smooth over these contradictions of ourselves The writing itself is sometimes very confusing I often found myself lost in what the book was trying to say especially in the first 50 pages which seemed at times aimless but it is that effort that slowly begins to make sense as the book reveals itself; as the book gets less and less abstract the writing itself becomes tangible


  6. says:

    Törless is confused Indeed the title of this book in some editions not mine is The Confusions of Young Törless Skimming the plot surface of this book Törless is a student in an Austrian military school Two student friends of Törless find out that yet another student Basini has been stealing small amounts of money They proceed to sadistically homosexually torture him Törless finds himself aroused and thus confusedTörless finds himself in a freuent sudden lassitude with a ueer uneasiness a tingling in his brain a fine toothed doubt a vague feeling a foreboding that he was wasting his time a dense gluey boredom a ueer state that kept him awake utterly mangled with his suffocating heart he lay there all wrapped up in his memories to say nothing of the light flittering feet of innumerable iridescent lizardsI would have appreciated a sign that said HERE BE LASSITUDEThere are works of literature that are about one thing but are really about the author's struggle with sexual identity I had a professor that was certain Kafka was crying out Young Törless is inside out of that The plot is all about four boys engaged in homosexual acts but that's not the point Smarter folks than me have called this a chilling foreshadowing of the coming of Nazism New York Times Book Review But that's about 30 years of foreshadowing so I don't know In order to fully understand what Musil is talking about in this novel Nazis or otherwise you'd need to have a working understanding of mathematical imaginary numbers and the philosophy of Immanuel Kant I don't and you can't make me


  7. says:

    “At that moment he didn’t like mankind the grown ups the adults He never liked them when it was dark At such times it was his habit to think mankind away Then the world would seem like a dark empty house and he felt a shudder inside himself as if now he had to search through room after room—dark rooms where you didn’t know what was hidden in the corners—feeling his way across the thresholds where no foot would tread any apart from his until in one room the doors in front of and behind him would suddenly close and he would be facing the mistress of the black hordes herself And at that moment all the locks of all the other doors he had come through would shut and far beyond the walls the shadows of the darkness would stand watch like black eunuchs keeping out all human contact” The Confusions of Young Törless was one of those haunting harrowing works that gouged its way into my bones It rent and dissevered my mind and I fucking loved it for that It altered my inner landscape; I will carry it with me always Within the first 10 pages I was already asking myself “How the shit have I not heard of this before?” Musil’s voice was that astonishingThe book was an instant favorite The species of searing devastating sensation it evoked in me has become far rarer the older I get And aren’t these chance encounters precisely why we continue to pursue literature? We are hooked on this elusive indescribable feeling this inimitable spark this jolt There’s nothing else like it Törless provided me with one of these unforgettable reading experiences and for that I’m tremendously grateful You all know the kind of experience I’m talking aboutDue to the profound influence it had on me this is one of those books I can’t ever hope to properly explain or do any justice to in a review I usually refrain from even attempting reviews in cases like these And yet I can’t stop myself from spewing out all of these wretched useless syllables anyway though my words are already pissing me off with their contemptible insufficiency Interestingly enough the notion of the inadeuacy of words is actually examined rather extensively in this book Ironically Musil describes the at times unbearable limitations of language in a staggeringly elouent fashion His formidable word wielding really blew me away He included a related uote from Maurice Maeterlinck at the beginning of the book which set the tone for this theme admirably “As soon as we put something into words in a strange way we devalue it We think we have plunged into the depths of the abyss and when we return to the surface the drop of water glistening on our pale fingertips no longer resembles the sea from which it comes We imagine we have discovered a cave full of wonderful treasures and when we return to the light of day we find that all we have brought back is false jewels and shards of glass; and yet the treasure continues to gleam in the dark unaltered” Below is one of Musil’s descriptions of what it feels like when you’re searching for the right word or phrase and it continually eludes you You despair and yet you can’t seem to stop trying though you know that it’s hopeless and that you’re only torturing yourself See also my experience writing this excruciating review Sometimes you’ve just gotta love banging your head against the wall Such delectable masochism “It was as if he had to carry out a never ending division which always had an obstinate remainder left over or as if he were feverishly trying to undo an endless knot until his fingers bled” I’ll now share some examples of Musil’s particular way of describing things It was unlike anything I’ve ever read before He had a genuinely uniue angle this fucking coolass slant to his prose that was utterly astonishing in its beauty and strangeness I can’t help but include a few uotes here which demonstrate some of this uality as it was a large part of why the book had such an impact on me “Here and there a leaf from the deserted garden would skip up to the lighted window and drag a strip of brightness on its back into the dark that would appear to evade it to draw back only to return the next moment and stand once unmoving outside the windows like a wall” “A shiver ran up and down his spine like spider’s feet; then it stopped between his shoulderblades and with slender claws pulled his scalp down” “In all the corridors the dark waves of silence seemed to be asleep unmoving He was trying to find his way back to himself but they were blocking all the doors like black guards” “He was surrounded by a frenzy of emotions as if by lascivious women in high necked gowns and masks over their faces” ”He remembered old paintings he had seen in museums without really understanding them He was waiting for something just as when looking at the pictures he had always been waiting for something that never happened For what? For something surprising something never before seen; for an overwhelming sight that he could not imagine at all; for something of awful animal sensuousness that would grasp him as if with claws and tear him apart starting with his eyes” ”There were moments when life at the school was a matter of complete indifference to him Then the cement that his daily cares provided would dissolve and with no inner connection the hours of his life would fall apart” “Their cheerfulness was only superficial; the sound of their merry laughter seemed to fade only a few steps behind them as if encountering strong invisible resistance it had sunk to the ground” “He let his eye drift over the useless gilded ornamentation that was piled up inside this person’s inner being until he had formed a vague image of it as if without being able to formulate the thought precisely his fingers were tracing the line of an arabesue that was beautiful but entwined according to strange laws” “Everything that was stirring inside him was still in darkness but he could already feel a desire to stare at the forms of that darkness that the others didn’t see This desire was accompanied by a slight shiver As if from now on his life would be spent under a grey overcast sky—with heavy clouds monstrous changing figures and the ever repeated uestion Are they monsters? Are they just clouds?” “When he walked it was with smooth lissom movements with that rather timid way of drawing oneself in making oneself slender that is characteristic of those who are in the habit of striding erect through a suite of empty rooms where someone else seems to bump into invisible corners of the empty space” And just as I thought I’ve entirely failed to convey the essence of this book ShitTo conclude though I certainly reacted intensely to it I can’t say that I’d recommend this book to everyone It was dark and disturbing; cruelty and sadism can be difficult to stomach That said the book had such a plenitude of magnificent language and imagery and so many potent psychological insights it’d be a shame if you let the subject matter keep you away Also the inner torment that accompanies the struggle to find one’s identity during adolescence is detailed particularly exuisitely And for those inclined to actively seek out and peer into the darker chasms of the human psyche aka my kind of people I daresay you won’t soon forget your journey with Törless through that bleak murky terrain “Feeling defiled is one solitude and one dark wall”


  8. says:

    The Confusions of Young Robert MusilSemi autobiographically little Robert slowly develops into an adolescent Sensitive and insecure in the company of eually insecure boys without ualities except being of respectable aristocratic families Coming of age in a boarding school environment where everyone is eager to prove his manhood either by showing traces of intellect by being the master bully or bragging of imaginary amorous adventures The long and winding road leading to climax is very foreseeable – for a man who studied both psychology and philosophy and even graduated the latter cum laude the descriptions of the mechanisms at work in groups is uite weak Controversial for it´s time? Maybe but even in Austria it was an open secret what boys did together after dark There is nothing of real interest to be obtained from this work no new insight into human soul or behavior and nothing of historical significance In short it was a waste of time


  9. says:

    Decadent Austro Hungarian kids torture and sodomize a classmate as a rehearsal of the upper class adulthood awaiting them out of the military academyPhysical and psychological harassment A crumbling empire Pre nazi post sadism galore Depravity Pseudo Freudian expressionism The chance to hear the bookshop assistant's ooohs and aaahs as you put a book by Robert Musil on the counter No need to say I licked my lips as soon as I read the blurb Boy I must have looked like Wile E Coyote drooling after the Road Runner AhemMährisch Weisskirschen Moravia around 1900Three teen cadets of a military school spend their time hiding in attics and cellars turned into impromptu boudoirs eating pastries and paying weekly visits to a Slavic pockmarked whore in the nearby village Spoiled brats get easily bored though especially when they also happen to be mad as they come as the author tells us from the very beginning We know little about them no first names no information about their origins and age the fewest possible descriptions of their looks All the author really wants us to keep in mind is that these kids are utterly insane each of them in his own way Törless the protagonist is obsessed with sex and uite keen on introspection and self abasement His mind is haunted by fantasies of blasphemy and incest precisely he gets off imagining her mother's sexual life Hence his morbid attraction to the scum seen as a means to fill an existential void made of the feeling of not belonging in either his own social class nor in the dirty populace both of which fascinate and disgust him at the same time Beineberg is even disuieting in his potentially murderous ennui a Mitteleuropean dandy between Des Esseintes and De Sade's beastly aristocrats fond of cheap esotericism and weird Hindu philosophy a hodgepodge of exotic bullshit that allows him to escape his frightening lack of any morals whatsoever Last but not least Reiting whose violent nature is cunningly sublimated in a destructive asocial behaviour This sadistic sociopath born in a controversial half ruined? family and brimming with frustrated dreams of juvenile grandeur is the basic asshole whose only aim is the objectification of his victim devoid of any sort of intellectual subtlety uite different natures indeed; unfortunately enough they all share a penchant for homosexually charged violence that finds the perfect victim perhaps a scapegoat in a fourth boy Basini clearly Italian origins a creepy weakling bound to be mercilessly exploited by the depraved trio To be honest nobody would ever shed a tear for him Basini is so disgustingly opportunist that he hardly stirs up any feeling of sympathy in the reader What follows is uite predictable in the eyes of the perpetrators Basini is the nameless faceless voiceless and soulless Untermensch the less than human creature made to be enslaved thus enduring all its masters' whimsical fantasies When a farcical series of petty thefts puts the kid in their hands the boys lose control once and for all Although Musil's clever writing never indulges in detailed descriptions of sex and brutality he basically tells us about a homosexual gang rape that takes place in a dusty backroom with plenty of sadistic acts as foreplay including the use of whips and needles From this moment on each of the three buddies gets increasingly involved in experimenting his peculiar version of abusive lust desires that go beyond mere sex and manifest themselves in the forms of psychological torments Törless parodies of tantric spirituality Beineberg and sheer old school sadism Reiting According to Musil a former student of Weisskirchen college himself this short novel is full of autobiographical hints and true memories Although slightly altered for the author's fictional purposes both the events and the setting are thus supposed to be painfully real; after all R M Rilke gave a similar description of Weisskirchen which he had also attended a few years before Musil Even if the writing style is far from being perfect in my opinion that is this debut novel is amazingly interesting and complex I dare say it provides the reader with an unexpected insight in the years that shaped last century's collective and individual psyche No doubt the passages of Törless' musings and ramblings are way too long and often repetitive; they're nonetheless a great example of how deeply the newborn science of psychoanalysis was influencing European literature and arts Bildungsroman? Yes but also a surprisingly good depiction of an era we hardly know and fathom in all its momentous importance Forget about the stereotypical idea of a repressive heavy handed education in which the students' vulnerable minds are violated with huge doses of ossified culture religiosity and militarism On the contrary what truly scares here is the educational void of the institutions the total lack of direction and meaning of a whole cultureTeachers are hardly ever mentioned let aside a few passages in which they are actually caricatures of themselves Families are eually non existent or toxic mothers seen as ghosts awakening Œdipal pulsions fathers dismissed as entities floating in a limbo of oblivion Religion is nothing than a school lesson nobody cares about All in all in such a desert of boredom and hopelessness the claustrophobic atmosphere of the college so drenched in lust and violence is the only conceivable way out No wonder some of these brats joined the highest ranks of the Nazi party when the real fun began a couple of decades later overjoyed to take part in the orgy of blood and lust they probably had been craving since their teens Hard to believe this book was written in 1906 huh? But then one must bear in mind these were the years of Freud Viennese Secession Die Brücke Fauvism Musil's little psychos were indeed the first product of a world that was ridding itself of the burden of the past without daring to take a closer look to the present a present of moral exhaustion and irrationality in which all the pillars of the old world State Family Church Army were walking dead eaten from within by the worms of their terrifying emptiness Musil's characters are certainly the embodiment of his times However the reader of nowadays is able to look at them from an even darker perspective that of the future We know what was going to happen a few years later to most of these youngsters a whole generation who would be butchered in the blood soaked shitty ratholes of WW1; well groomed pretty junkers merrily sent to be machine gunned eviscerated by hand grenades killed by typhus in the name of their sacred Country and respectable Families Because La bourgeoisie n'a jamais hésité même à tuer ses fils Suggested soundtrack Dum Dum Girls Lost Boys And Girls Club


  10. says:

    Bold strange and innovative The Confusions of Young Torless I'm not sure how to type the accent over the o in Torless sorry is an often bizarre yet interesting German classic


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