The Confusions of Young Torless

The Confusions of Young Torless


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"Musil belongs in the company of Joyce, Proust, and Kafka." (The New Republic)

Like his contemporary and rival Sigmund Freud, Robert Musil boldly explored the dark, irrational undercurrents of humanity. The Confusions of Young Tšrless, published in 1906 while he was a student, uncovers the bullying, snobbery, and vicious homoerotic violence at an elite boys academy. Unsparingly honest in its depiction of the author's tangled feelings about his mother, other women, and male bonding, it also vividly illustrates the crisis of a whole society, where the breakdown of traditional values and the cult of pitiless masculine strength were soon to lead to the cataclysm of the First World War and the rise of fascism. A century later, Musil's first novel still retains its shocking, prophetic power.

Author Biography: Robert Musil (1880-1942) was born in Austria and served in the Austrian army during World War I, after which he worked as a civil servant as well as a writer and journalist. He is best known for his monumental unfinished novel, The Man Without Qualities.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780199669400
Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
Publication date: 03/01/2014
Series: Oxford Worlds Classics Series
Pages: 208
Sales rank: 746,271
Product dimensions: 5.00(w) x 7.50(h) x 0.60(d)
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

Robert Musil (1880-1942) is principally known in English as the author of The Man Without Qualities, Five Women, The Posthumous Papers of a Living Author and The Confusions of Young Torless.

Shaun Whiteside’s translations include Nietzsche’s The Birth of Tragedy and Musil’s The Confusions of Young Torlessfor Penguin Classics.

J. M. Coetzee was born in Cape Town, South Africa, on February 9, 1940, and studied first at Cape Town and later at the University of Texas at Austin, where he earned a Ph.D. degree in literature. In 1972 he returned to South Africa and joined the faculty of the University of Cape Town. His works of fiction include Dusklands, Waiting for the Barbarians, which won South Africa’s highest literary honor, the Central News Agency Literary Award, and The Life and Times of Michael K., for which Coetzee was awarded his first Booker Prize in 1983. He has also published a memoir, Boyhood: Scenes From a Provincial Life, and several essays collections. He has won many other literary prizes including the Lannan Award for Fiction, the Jerusalem Prize and The Irish Times International Fiction Prize. In 1999 he again won Britain’s prestigious Booker Prize for Disgrace, becoming the first author to win the award twice in its 31-year history. In 2003, Coetzee was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature.

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Confusions of Young Torless 4.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 7 reviews.
JimmyChanga on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The Confusions of Young Torless is an incredible book, reminiscent at times of Rilke in its ability to wrestle with complex spiritual and psychological themes. Reading this book was like constantly trying to grasp something slightly abstract, slightly out of reach, though very human and real and rooted in language. This is an ambitious (though short) book, an extremely thoughtful and difficult read.Maybe it is fitting that the book is so hard to describe, since one of its main themes is the ineffable-ness of certain human experience. One thing the book is NOT about, however, is the "devastating" effects of the "abuse of power" as it states in the back of the book. Sure, that's what happens, but the author's focus seems determinedly "off", always in the head of young Torless, who approaches the events that unfold with a much deeper and complex inquisitiveness than the simple moral lesson/parable suggested in that blurb.At the center is the metaphor of imaginative numbers. Torless learns of them in math class, and spends some pages thinking about how we can start with something completely real, apply an element that does not exist to it (but we pretend it does, temporarily, just for the sake of conjecture) and that the logical result of that (because the imaginative numbers eventually cancel each other out on both sides of the equation) is a real result. But that the bridge between the two real worlds is one that's completely made up.This metaphor, though not always explicitly stated, can be applied to many of the themes in this book: the way our conceptions of "self" are propped up by a set of lies we tell ourselves, the way we conduct our lives in the daytime differently from at night (though we need the night as a bridge to get to the next day), the way we can be completely rational with our thoughts even though we are essentially emotional (and irrational) beings.The confusion of young Torless becomes our confusion as he thinks obscurely about these themes among many others: guilt, shame, pride, sexuality, the contradictions of the self, coherence between mind, body, and soul¿ and how we smooth over these contradictions of ourselves. The writing itself is sometimes very confusing, I often found myself lost in what the book was trying to say (especially in the first 50 pages, which seemed at times aimless), but it is that effort that slowly begins to make sense as the book reveals itself; as the book gets less and less abstract, the writing itself becomes more tangible.
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Banoo on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Törless is confused. He goes to an all-boys school. He is confused. He thinks of women. He thinks of men. Things happen. One boy steals. Other boys find out about the theft. They take advantage of this knowledge. Törless is confused. He wants to see cruelty. He's indifferent. He cares. He doesn't care. Visits to the attic and sermons, sermons flavored by Kant, sermons flavored by Indian traditions and myths, sermons served from a confused Törless. Törless is confused. Brian was confused. When Törless started to understand, Brian started to understand. Too much philosophical talk gives me headaches. Then we had WWI, and because we didn't know, we had WWII. Musil evidently knew, but Musil confused me. It was the confusions of an older Brian.Dying is only a consequence of the way we live. We live from one thought to another, from one feeling to the next. Because our thoughts and feelings do not flow peacefully like a stream, they 'occur to us', they drop into us like stones. If you observe yourself very carefully, you will feel that the soul is not something that changes its colours in gradual transitions, but rather that thoughts leap forth from it like numbers from a black hole. One moment you have a thought or a feeling, and all of a sudden there's another one there, as though it had sprung from nowhere. If you pay attention, you can even sense the moment between two thoughts when everything is black. That moment - once we have grasped it - is nothing short of death for us.Well, dammit... I went and confused myself again...