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A Talent for Beginnings

Michael Wood: Musil starts again

15 April 1999
Diaries 1899-1942 
by Robert Musil, translated by Philip Payne.
Basic Books, 557 pp., £27.50, January 1999, 0 465 01650 2
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... 20 more chapters of Part III to the printers and revised them in galleys but then withdrew them. Burton Pike, an eminent Musil scholar and the translator of this material into English, nicely says these chapters ‘were intended to continue’ Part III ‘but not conclude it’. A brief Part IV, ironically called ‘A Kind of End’, was projected but ...
16 October 1997
The Man without Qualities 
by Robert Musil, translated by Sophie Wilkins and Burton Pike.
Picador, 1774 pp., £40, November 1995, 0 330 34682 2
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The Man without Qualities 
by Robert Musil, translated by Sophie Wilkins.
Picador, 1130 pp., £15, October 1997, 0 330 34942 2
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... There is only one baby in The Man without Qualities. Her mother is Rachel, maid to Ermelinda Tuzzi who is the wife of Section Chief Tuzzi, a bureaucrat in the service of the Imperial Austrian Government in Vienna. The year is 1913: Rachel was 19 and believed in miracles. She had been born in a squalid shack in Poland, where a mezuzah hung on the doorpost and the soil came up through the cracks in the floorboards ...

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