Jahrbuch für Geschichte der Literatur und Wissenschaften / Yearbook for the History of Literature, Humanities and Sciences
Ed. by Albrecht, Andrea / Danneberg, Lutz / Regn, Gerhard / Schmidt-Biggemann, Wilhelm / Vollhardt, Friedrich
Editorial Board: Mahlmann, Barbara / Epple, Moritz / Fick, Monika / Grafton, Anthony / Jaumann, Herbert / Klippel, Diethelm / Kühlmann, Wilhelm / Müller, Jan-Dirk / Nisbet, Hugh Barr / Proß, Wolfgang / Schönert, Jörg / Strohschneider, Peter
Starting out from the fact that Robert Musil’s first novel unsettled its contemporary readers with the »immoral« behaviour of its young protagonist, this essay tries to find out what kind of provocation the novel actually contains. It argues that it is less the behaviour of the protagonist Törleß as depicted in the novel, but rather the narrator’s way of commenting on it that entails the actual provocation. With this provocation Musil aims at replacing the traditional interpersonal comprehension of moral standards by a new concept of the individual development of the inner self. Taking into account Musil’s later reflections on the moral theory, the essay’s final part deals with some problems that are caused by such an individualistic idea of morals.