Musil's limpid, psychological evocation of adolescent sexuality and its often sadistic eroticism which anticipates the carnage of both World Wars.
As the nineteenth century draws to an end, young T rless is sent to a military boarding school for the sons of the nobility on the eastern outreaches of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Far from his comfortable, free-thinking bourgeois home and left to his own devices, he experiences the joy, pain and self-doubt of adolescence. He is confronted with desire and love, but also his own cruelty, as he finds himself participating in his fellow pupils' bullying campaigns.
A dark Bildungsroman which shocked its readership at the time, Robert Musil's first novel is a fresco of psychoanalysis, philosophy, eroticism, snobbery, sado-masochism and schoolboy humour, a hothouse of alternately repressed and unchained desires that prefigure the carnage of both World Wars.