Love and Human Knowledge

in Eros and Inwardness in Vienna

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print June 2003 | ISBN: 9780226496474
Published online March 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226496481 | DOI:
Love and Human Knowledge

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  • Modern History (1700 to 1945)


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Musil's view of modern life emphasized that rationalism and irrationalism were the poles of the age, and his thought was a sophisticated way of coming to terms with both, particularly by exploring his culture's understandings of sexuality and gender. Musil attempted to bring the conceptually strong person, a type ordinarily associated with science or philosophy, into relation with the highly individualized experiences of literature—ethical experiences or experiences of feeling. This chapter provides an account of Musil's understanding of himself as a writer within the intellectual world of Central Europe in the early twentieth century, and then turns to his view of sexuality and gender, especially in the fiction and essays he wrote before the war. Musil's view of aesthetics was grounded in this problematic situation of modern culture, and he emphasized modern culture's formlessness as it emerged in the early twentieth century. Contemplating “the great inner disorder” of contemporary life, it seemed to him that “such an illogical disorder of life, such an unraveling of once-binding cultural energies and ideals, would have to be fertile soil for a great logician of spiritual values.”

Keywords: modern life; sexuality; gender; spiritual values; Musil

Chapter.  19096 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Modern History (1700 to 1945)

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