"The Sleepwalkers", by Hermann Broch, is one of the great
cultual achievements of the 20th Century. Today, over
60 years after its original publication (and almost
50 years after the English translation was published),
its insights are perhaps even more relevant than before,
due to the advent of so-called "Post-Modernism", which
has made a "virtue" out of the disintegration of values
and the breakdown of life-forms in our society. Broch,
in contrast, was committed to the task of finding
a way through to meaningful life for all persons in
"The Sleepwalkers" offers diagnostic case-studies of
the problem (often with a subtle wit), and, at the
end of the book, briefly but powerfully points to a
solution, in a renewal of community in inclusive discourse.
Personally, when I first read "The Sleepwalkers", ca. 1972, it
it showed me why words might deserve to exist, and I felt
that, if I was who I wished I was, I would have written
Broch's words. I was and remained struck by the
"ekstatic" condition with which he must have been
graced to write this work (and other of his works,
e.g., "The Death of Virgil").
Perhaps the ending words of "The Virgil" characterize,
in a way different from how they are there meant,
Broch's achievement: "It was the word beyond speech".