The Confusions of Young Torless
by Robert Musil
Penguin Twentieth Century Classics Edition
Translation by Shaun Whiteside 2001
Introduction by J.M. Coetzee
The truth is that up till this point I hadn't read a single Penguin Twentieth Century Classics Edition of any Novel from the 2006 edition of the 1001 Books To Read Before You Die list. Obviously, though, I haven't read a single book from the 1900s portion of the list itself- which is fully 700 of the 1001 books to Read Before You Die. That seems kind of insane to me. If you can do the 1700s, 1800s and 2000s in 300 books, you can do the Twentieth Century in MAXIMUM- 300 books. I'm going to publish my own book called 500 Novels To Read After You Retire. Who wouldn't rather read 500 books then 1001?
One of the reasons I purchased The Confusions of Young Torless is unfamiliarity with the Author, Robert Musil. Musil is best known for his unfinished work, The Man Without Qualities, or in the German, Der Mann ohn Eigenschaften, but The Confusions of Young Torless is a nice little introduction with the added bonus of an upper class Austrian boarding school setting and dark, gay, sexual sado-masichism as only an Austrian boarding school in the late 19th century can breed. Torless' Confusions wrap up in about 150 pages, and the Novel is informed by the morally concerned coming of Age narratives that stretch back to Goethes The Sorrows of Young Werther within the German language literary world.
In addition to being pleasantly short and embedded with gay sexual themes, Robert Musil has high snob value among literratuers. And the fact is the non-specialist is unlikely to tackle The Man Without Qualities. That is because A Man Without Qualities is almost (more then?) a thousand pages long AND IS UNFINISHED.
So I would say that The Confusions of Young Torless makes my 500 Novels To Read After You Retire list due to the combination of readability, snob appeal/value & gay sex scenes. The Man Without Qualities, does not make the list.