Sunday, January 27, 2008

Musil and Hoffmansthal, collision of thoughts

I definitely think that Musil and Hoffmansthal are illustrating a similar movement and feeling.  They are both portraying the ideals of the Jung Wien in the quest for a different, modernist Vienna void of fake appearances and extreme societal materialism.  In Musil, Ulrich epitomizes this ideal in being the man without qualities, a simpleton in an extravagant society. In Hoffmansthal, the merchants son shares a lot of "lack of" qualities with Ulrich in Musil in that he discovers life in a different way after becoming "weary of human society and social life."  Both authors, through these two works, use their characters to call into question the state of the society and the worth of money and material objects and what their importance should be in one's life.  In Hoffmansthal's "Tale of..Night" he makes this point quite strikingly as the merchant's son is killed by being kicked by a horse while picking up money off of the ground.  

I think Hoffmansthal, along with Musil, is very concerned about the role aesthetics, money, and societal perception play in society.  

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