A review of “The Man Without Qualities”

As I posted a message on my personal wall this morning against the “consumeristic” idea that one could read a hundred books a month, for a moment, I pondered upon the great books that had changed my life.

None of them, I read in a month. Most of them, I read in years. I am still reading them now.

One such book is “The Man Without Qualities” by Robert Musil. I don’t think I have met anyone who has read this book. Hopefully one day I will. Such an encounter would make for an interesting conversation, or perhaps more aptingly, prolonged silence over a pint.

For what it’s worth, here is my review on Goodreads:

Cover of "The Man Without Qualities" by Robert Musil
Cover of “The Man Without Qualities” by Robert Musil

This is a life changing work by a life changing author. Musil inspires without trying to inspire, is wise without preaching. In the mold of Aurelius, disguised as a novel, most of those hundreds of pages are quotable. Reminds me of Dostoevsky very much, but their styles are very different.

It is easy to see why his work was quickly forgotten after his death. A world racing madly towards consumerism and self gratification, in the name of all sorts of ideologies, will not understand and genuinely appreciate Musil.

On reading, Musil had this to say:
“Hardly anyone still reads nowadays. People make use of the writer only in order to work off their own excess energy on him in a perverse manner, in the form of agreement or disagreement.”

Anyone who could provide such an insight is worth re-reading many times over.

This book might not entertain certain readers, but it will intrigue most. Like most great works of fiction, Musil wrote a non-fiction, disguised in a fictional story. Enjoy if you can find the time!

📸 Jan Mellström