chapter  2
26 Pages

Hermann Broch

ByJohn McCormick

This chapter links Hermann Broch and Robert Musil for a variety of reasons. Broch, the writer who said that neither he nor Musil nor Kafka had a biography — they did nothing but write their books — assuredly kept himself out of most of his prose fiction. Particularly in Die Schlafwandler Broch goes to considerable lengths to contrive the illusion of objectivity and impersonality. Musil, conversely, writes totally out of his own experience in Der Mann ohne Eigenschaften (The Man without Qualities). Both Broch and Musil stood directly in the post-Romantic line, then, where size was concerned; and when one says size, one is certainly alluding to form. In 1947, Broch wrote of Franz Kafka, "He reached the point of the Either-Or: either poetry is able to proceed to myth, or it goes bankrupt". The temptation to archetype and myth is powerful to a writer like Broch, because it offers an evasion of time and an easy way around history.