The NYU German Department will be having an event tonight, November 28th at 6pm in the Great Room (1 FL) of 19 University Place. Professor Inka Mülder-Bach will be giving her public lecture, Similies, species, and series: Narrative Evolution in “The Man Without Qualities.”
Since its initial publication, Robert Musil’s novel The Man without Qualities has come under the suspicion of being an over-sized essay whose comprehensive diagnosis of modernity is rich in thought but poor in plot, and whose wealth of reflection is paid for with a lack of formal coherence and narrative structure. This talk will question such a reading by directing attention to the narrative development and poetic logic with which Musil’s diagnosis of modernity is inextricably bound. Proceeding from Musil’s characterization of the outbreak of the First World War as the attempt at “revolution as the end of a stalled evolution,” the talk will argue that models of evolution and revolution are constitutive of the novel’s form, its narrative procedures, and its poetics of simile.