Quotations From ROBERT MUSIL

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  • 1.
    Only in the most unusual cases is it useful to determine whether a book is good or bad; for it is just as rare for it to be one or the other. It is usually both.
    Robert Musil (1880-1942), Austrian author. [On Criticism], untitled essay draft, presumably before 1914, Robert Musil: Precision and Soul. Essays and Addresses, p. 43, ed. and trans. by Burton Pike and David S. Luft, Chicago: University of Chicago Press (1990).
  • 2.
    Writing [for the novelist] is not an activity, but a condition. That is why one simply can't resume the work when one has a job and a free half-day. Reading is the conveyance of this condition.
    Robert Musil (1880-1942), Austrian author. Diary entry, 1918-1921, vol. I, p. 470, Tagebucher, ed. Adolf Frise, trans. by Donald C. Rieche, Rowohlt (1976).

    Read more quotations about / on: work
  • 3.
    Philosophers are people who do violence, but have no army at their disposal, and so subjugate the world by locking it into a system.
    Robert Musil (1880-1942), Austrian author. The Man Without Qualities, book I, part 2, ch. 62, Gesammelte Werke in Neun Banden [Collected Works in Nine Volumes], vol. I, p. 253, ed. Adolf Frise, trans. by Donald C. Riechel, Rowohlt (1978).

    Read more quotations about / on: people, world
  • 4.
    But how do I get to having to write a book?... It was a mother who bore me, not an inkwell!
    Robert Musil (1880-1942), Austrian author. The Man Without Qualities, book I, ch. 103, Gesammelte Werke in Neun Banden [Collected Works in Nine Volumes], ed. Adolf Frise, trans. by Donald C. Riechel, Rowohlt (1978).

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  • 5.
    The difference between a healthy person and one who is mentally ill is the fact that the healthy one has all the mental illnesses, and the mentally ill person has only one.
    Robert Musil (1880-1942), Austrian author. The Man Without Qualities, book II, ch. 37, Gesammelte Werke in Neun Banden [Collected Works in Nine Volumes], ed. Adolf Frise, trans. by Donald C. Riechel, Rowohlt (1978).
  • 6.
    Every word wants to be taken literally, else it decays into a lie. But one mustn't take any word literally, else the world becomes a madhouse.
    Robert Musil (1880-1942), Austrian author. Ulrich to his sister Agathe, in The Man Without Qualities, book II, ch. 11, Gesammelte Werke in Neun Banden [Collected Works in Nine Volumes], ed. Adolf Frise, trans. by Donald C. Riechel, Rowohlt (1978).

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  • 7.
    ... all professional ideologies are high-minded. Hunters, for instance, would not dream of calling themselves the butchers of the woods.
    Robert Musil (1880-1942), Austrian author. repr. Perigee (1980). The Man Without Qualities, book I, ch. 72, trans. and with a foreword by Eithne Wilkins and Ernst Kaiser, Coward-McCann (1953).

    Read more quotations about / on: dream
  • 8.
    ... the genius never makes anything new, but always something that is just different, and the average talents provide him the possibility within which his genius condenses into achievements.
    Robert Musil (1880-1942), Austrian author. Political Confessions of a Young Man. A Fragment (1913), Robert Musil, Precision and Soul. Essays and Addresses, p. 33, ed. and trans. by Burton Pike and David S. Luft, Chicago: University of Chicago Press (1990).
  • 9.
    It is, all in all, a historic error to believe that the master makes the school; the students make it!
    Robert Musil (1880-1942), Austrian author. Posthumous Papers of a Living Author, "The Paintspreader," (1936), trans. by Peter Wortsman, Eridanos (1987).

    Read more quotations about / on: school, believe
  • 10.
    Anything that endures over time sacrifices its ability to make an impression.
    Robert Musil (1880-1942), Austrian author. Posthumous Papers of a Living Author, "Monuments," (1936), trans. by Peter Wortsman, Eridanos (1987).

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