Books: Austrian Post-Mortem

THE MAN WITHOUT QUALITIES (355 pp.) —Robert Musil—Coward-McCann ($4).

An ex-officer of the Austrian army sat down one day in 1922 to write a panoramic novel about the decline & fall of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. At his death, 20 years later, Robert Musil had completed 2,000 pages. His work, The Man Without Qualities, was still unfinished, but he had written enough to persuade enthusiastic European critics that Musil had been at work on one of the most searching post-mortems of modern fiction. Now, something like the first fifth of his novel has been translated into English.

The Man Without Qualities is a...

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