|The hero of this landmark of Modernism is a mathematician, but as the title suggests, it is difficult to say anything else about him. The author,
Austrian Robert Musil, studied mathematics and philosophy in college.
"Life-changing view of how to live. The finest work I've known. Pure
logic leading to philosophy and morality."
There are two translations of this work. The one mentioned here is the newer, and by far the inferior. Ex.: Those who know German will chafe at reading "Seinesgleiches geschieht" translated as "Psuedoreality Prevails"; the old translators, Eithne Wilkins and Ernst Kaiser, much more reasonably rendered it as "The like of it now happens," which preserves the intended ambiguity.
I thought this was a tremendous book. I read a Picador publication of it, if I remember correctly. I'll have to figure out which translation it was (I read it in about 1980). Apparently a relatively new translation is available (making three, perhaps?). There was a play based on The Man Without Qualities that toured England in the late 1970's or early 80's that I also saw. The play received terrible reviews, but I thought it was OK.
Well, once again I have to say that I didn't think much about math while reading this, but I was young... Maybe I did think about math and just forgot... Anyway, this is a must read, and now I think I'll need to read it again with the benefit of your comments!
Note: In an essay called "The Mathematical Man" (1913), Musil commented on what he saw as unique about the field of mathematics at the turn of the 20th century: "Today there is no other possibility of having such fantastic, visionary feelings as mathematicians do."