Five Women by Robert Musil
New York : Delacorte Press, 1966. First American Edition. Hardcover. 222 pages ; 21 cm. $5.00 dust jacket. Previous owner bookplate affixed onto the front free endpaper. Pages are unmarked and binding is firm.
FIVE WOMEN by Robert Musil
Robert Musil is gradually gaining worldwide recognition as one of the major writers of this century. FIVE WOMEN is the first publication in the United States of Musil's only collection of stories. The stories are divided into two groups.
"The Lady from Portugal": A warrior lord returns wounded to his Portuguese bride and the mysterious threat which hangs over their feudal mountain castle.
"Grigia": An engineer away from family and obligations succumbs to an earthy and inscrutable peasant woman.
"Tonka": A brilliant but confused student falls tragically in love with a simple working girl.
"The Perfecting of a Love": A woman struggles with her innate promiscuity and her attraction to a stranger while on a journey to visit her daughter in school.
"The Temptation of Quiet Veronica": A woman is torn between two men and two kinds of desire, sexual and spiritual. Each of these stories is a small masterpiece, an intense expression of Musil's genius.
Robert Musil was born in Klagenfurt, Austria, on November 6, 1880, the son of a successful engineer. He was educated at military academies and received a diploma In engineering from the Technical University in Briinn. Engineering, however, failed to satisfy his increasing interest in literature and the humanities. He then studied philosophy and experimental psychology at the University of Berlin, where he received his Ph.D. degree in 1908. The publication of his first novel, Young Torless, in 1906 and its immediate recognition led him to abandon a career as an academic philosopher and devote himself to writing. After his marriage in 1911 he worked as a librarian at the Technical University in Vienna and then moved in 1913 to Berlin to become an editor of Neue Rundschau. During these years his writing suffered. Musil served as an officer in the Austrian Army from 1914-1918 and after the war held various government posts in Vienna until 1922, when he decided to live as a free-lance writer. He wrote plays and stories, dramatic criticism for various newspapers, and contributed essays and criticism to a number of literary journals. In the early Twenties, he conceived his major work, The Man Without Qualities, which continued to occupy him for the rest of his life. Volume I appeared in 1930, Volume II in 1933, but the work was never completed. After Hitler's coming to power and the Nazi Anschluss, Musil left Vienna permanently and emigrated to Switzerland, where he led a quiet existence, working continuously at The Man Without Qualities, until his death on April 15, 1942, in Geneva. It was only after World War II that Robert Musil's importance as one of the major figures of contemporary literature began to be recognized. More than a thousand reviews, articles and critical essays on his work have been published since 1948, and editions of his work are now available in many languages throughout the world.
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