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Special Event

Livestream: Panel: Reading Robert Musil, with Rüdiger Campe, Genese Grill, and Mark Mirsky

Monday, May 20, 2024 - 6:00 PM | Livestream | open to the public | $10 per person | registration required


Join us for a unique evening of readings and discussions of the works of the Austrian writer Robert Musil (1880-1942), author of the Modernist masterpiece The Man without Qualities, the novella The Confusions of Young Törless, and many short stories and essays, as well as plays, reviews, and aphorisms. Because of his experimental use of language, Musil is often compared with Marcel Proust and James Joyce. In Germany and Austria he is deemed, along with Franz Kafka and Thomas Mann, one of the three greatest prose writers of the 20th century.

Musil studied engineering, psychophysics, and mathematics and strove to synthesize art and science, mathematics and mysticism, and precision and soul. Amid the uncertainty and complexity of the modern world, his attempts to find an ethical and aesthetic way of life are vitally germane to our contemporary moment.

This event is a celebration of over a decade of publishing Musil translations with Contra Mundum Press. Mark Mirsky, novelist and editor of Musil’s Diaries and Fiction magazine, will introduce Musil, followed by a short talk by Yale University professor Dr. Rüdiger Campe and a reading by translator and Musil biographer Genese Grill. Mark Mirsky will then moderate a discussion and audience questions.

Rüdiger Campe is a professor at Yale University, where he regularly teaches a seminar on Musil and the modern novel. He is the recipient of the Humboldt Research Prize and the Aby Warburg Prize, author of The Game of Probability: Literature and Calculation from Pascal and Kleist, trans. Ellwood Wiggens, Jr. (Stanford University Press, 2021) and Die Institution im Roman. Robert Musil (The Institution in the Novel. Robert Musil; Würzburg: Königshausen & Neumann, 2020), and is currently completing a book-length study of the German scientist and philosopher Georg Christoph Lichtenberg, author of the Sudelbücher (waste books).

Genese Grill is the author of The World as Metaphor in Robert Musil’s “The Man without Qualities”: Possibility as Reality (Camden House, 2012), translator and editor of four books of Musil’s writings with Contra Mundum Press: Thought Flights (2015), Unions (2018), Theater Symptoms: Plays and Writings on Drama (2020), and Literature and Politics (2022), and co-translator, with Samantha Rose Hill, of What Remains: The Collected Poetry of Hannah Arendt (Liveright, 2024). Her collection of essays, Portals: Reflections on the Spirit in Matter, was published in 2023 (Splice). She is currently working on the first English-language biography of Robert Musil for Yale University Press (forthcoming 2026).

Mark Mirsky is the author of thirteen books, among them five novels and a book of stories and novellas. He served as the editor in the English translation of Robert Musil’s Diaries (Basic Books, 1999) and co-editor of Rabbinic Fantasies (Yale University Press, 1990) and Volume 1 and 2 of The Jews of Pinsk, 1506-1941 (Stanford University Press, 2013). He has also been the editor, since its founding in 1972, of Fiction—one of the prime venues for the publication of Musil’s translations for over two decades. He has taught at Stanford University and Bar Ilan as well as serving as director of the City College M.A. and then as chairperson of its English Department.

Contra Mundum Press is a New York-based independent publishing house with a global outlook. Its principal interest is in Modernism and the principles developed by the Modernists, though it also publishes challenging and visionary works from other eras. The primary aim of Contra Mundum is to publish translations of writers who in their use of form and style are à rebours, or who deviate significantly from more programmatic and spurious forms of experimentation. Such writing attests to the volatile nature of modernism.

This event is generously sponsored by Polymath Educational Services - providing personalized support for teens with learning differences.

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