Ein Lied in der Wüste Ein Kranz ward gewunden aus schwärzlichem Laub in der Gegend von Akra: dort riß ich den Rappen herum und stach nach dem Tod mit dem Degen. Auch trank ich aus hölzernen Schalen die Asche der Brunnen von Akra und zog mit gefälltem Visier den Trümmern der Himmel entgegen. Denn tot […]

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Jetzt komme, Feuer!
Begierig sind wir,
Zu schauen den Tag,
Und wenn die Prüfung
Ist durch die Knie gegangen,
Mag einer spüren das Waldgeschrei.

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And we, spectators always, everywhere, turned towards everything, and never towards the open. It fills us. We arrange it. It decays. We arrange it again, and decay ourselves. Und wir: Zuschauer, immer, überall, dem allen zugewandt und nie hinaus! Uns überfüllts. Wir ordnens. Es zerfällt. Wir ordnens wieder und zerfallen selbst. The German poet Rainer […]

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Totentanz Dance of Death Johann Wolfgang von Goethe English by Edgar Alfred Bowring Der Türmer, der schaut zu Mitten der Nacht The warder looks down at the mid hour of night, Hinab auf die Gräber in Lage; On the tombs that lie scatter’d below: Der Mond, der hat alles ins Helle gebracht; The moon fills […]

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Excerpt from Robert Musil’s “Man Without Qualities, ” Volume One. Translated by Eithne Wilkins and Ernst KaiserPicador (1979) “A chapter that can be skipped by anyone who has no very high opinion of thinking as an occupation MEANWHILE Ulrich was at home, sitting at his desk; working. He had got out the analysis that he […]

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One of the key passages in Musil’s novel “Man without Qualities” (1930) explains why Ulrich, the main character, has no qualities. He lives as much in the realm of the possible as  he lives grounded in a sense of reality. He, and the whole society around him, exists in a state of floating, suspended between […]

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Robert Musil (1880-1942) is one of my favorite German writers; he has a very subtle irony and thinks like a philosopher. He is not very well known in the English-speaking world,  so here is a short description of his life and a few quotes. The Person Robert Musil Robert Musil’s character is very well described […]

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