Sunday, July 07, 2019

In Kakania

Robert Musil:
The administration of this country was carried out in an enlightened, hardly perceptible manner, with a cautious clipping of all sharp points, by the best bureaucracy in Europe, which could be accused of only one defect: it could not help regarding genius and enterprise of genius in private persons, unless privileged by high birth or State appointment, as ostentation, indeed presumption. But who would want unqualified persons putting their oar in, anyway? And besides, in Kakania it was only that a genius was always regarded as a lout, but never, as sometimes happened elsewhere, that a mere lout was regarded as a genius.
The Man without Qualities (Wilkins-Kaiser translation). "Kakania" was Musil's coinage for the kaiserlich und königlich Austro-Hungarian Empire.


Michael Leddy said...

Hello, fellow reader. Are you reading Musil now?

Chris said...

I am! I've tried before and not gotten all that far, but so far I'm enjoying it. I'm reading the old translation because that happens to be the one I own; I think the newer one is considered better.

Michael Leddy said...

I’ve seen opinions both ways. I have to wonder if there’s any relation between the two Wilkins. Columbia has papers for Sophie Wilkins than run from the 1930s to 2003. She apparently did her translation in the 1980s. No biographical information about her on the paperback edition.