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Musil, Robert (1880 - 1942)

"If stupidity did not resemble progress, talent, hope and improvement quite so perfectly, nobody would want to be stupid". (Robert Musil, 1931).

Robert Musil was a novelist, essayist and playwright who had studied engineering, mathematics, philosophy, physics, and psychology and worked productively in all these areas. His novels are characterized by a subtle psychological element, and his writing style has been compared to that of Proust. But Musil was probably influenced more by Nietzsche and his own scientific background. Musil’s early success as a novelist with Törless did not translate into financial independence. Though offered a post at the University of Graz, he rejected the security and reputation of the academic world and decided to dedicate himself to writing fiction, plays and essays – much to his family’s concern. It was the beginning of a lifetime of poverty and hardship. His chief work, 'Der Mann ohne Eigenschaften' (Man without qualities) is an impressive piece of prose which was published in three installments, the third as posthumous fragment.