Vom Geschlechter- zum Weltkrieg. Männlichkeitskrise und Revirilisierungsdiskurs in Robert Musils Der Mann ohne Eigenschaften

Ulrich Boss


Robert Musil understood the war euphoria of 1914 as a form of escape from an outlived order that was no longer able to satisfy elementary ‘spiritual’ needs. In The Man Without Qualities, this disintegration of the old order manifests itself not least in a fundamental crisis of masculinity, for which the numerous body deficits of the novel’s male characters are symptomatic. The attempts of these largely deplorable male figures to regain their masculinity lead straight to war. Yet Musil’s novel also questions the pre-war discourse of revirilisation by the fact that ironically, the male-muscular title hero—his body image corresponds in almost every detail to Ernst Kretschmer’s constitutional type of the athlete—does not take part in it and instead searches for an alternative way out of social-moral stagnation. (UB; in German)

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