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Agathe Reviews

Agathe by Robert Musil, Joel Agee

Agathe, or the Forgotten Sister

Robert Musil, Joel Agee

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1 review

Imprint: The New York Review of Books, Inc
Publisher: The New York Review of Books, Inc
Publication date: 13 Dec 2019
ISBN: 9781681373836

Musil's Agathe, or the Forgotten Sister is one of the most unexpected and breathtaking adventures of twentieth-century fiction, while Joel Agee's new English translation captures all the nuance of Musil's famously acute and penetrating style.

5 stars out of 5
19 Jan 2020

"(it) has a gripping modernity and inconclusiveness"

There’s a joke that asserts that genuine existentialism, to be labelled as such, can only come from the original region of production on Paris’s Left Bank, and that existentialism that comes from anywhere else is merely sparkling anxiety.

I would argue for an extension to the appellation to include Musil’s Vienna of the Twenties and Thirties, from where he and his Jewish wife Martha were exiled after the Nazis banned his books. For what Musil achieved was to give a completely new voice to that anxiety, which was not just about fascism but Europe’s civilisation that enabled it, and to continue to sharpen the inquiry into how we can live and love authentically in a world that may sometimes feel like a well-sprung train ride, but in reality is spinning, tumbling, always in transition.

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