R. Gray

German 390/Comp. Lit 396/Engl 363/CHID 498/JSIS 488/Lit 298

Freud and the Literary Imagination


Re: Musil, Young Törless, and the experience of the modernist rupture:


Writing in 1912, the Austrian author and essayist Hermann Bahr (1863-1934) commented on his own experience as representative of that of bourgeois sons coming to age around the turn of the century:


"This was the basic experience that this generation [of young men] had in common: armed solely with beautifying opinions aimed at covering things over and portraying the world as a petty bourgeois idyll, this youth suddenly found itself confronted with the reality of the modern metropolis. On the very first day everything in which we had previously believed collapsed, everything on which we had planted our feet crumbled, our entire way of thinking was shattered. And in view of the unbridled greed with which all people, driven by envy and hate, attack each other in the crowded metropolis, we found ourselves betrayed and deceived. [É] This generationŐs basic experience was that of an irresolvable contradiction between our innate and cultivated inner life and the external existence imposed upon us by reality."

From the essay "Inventur der Zeit" (Inventory of the Age).