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The Sleepwalkers [Paperback]

Hermann Broch
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
Price: CDN$ 24.95 & FREE Shipping on orders over CDN$ 25. Details
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The Sleepwalkers + Death of Virgil
Price For Both: CDN$ 40.63

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Product Description

From Publishers Weekly

Spanning some 20 years, Broch's epic trilogy of daily life in Germany established him as an important modernist innovator.

Copyright 1996 Cahners Business Information, Inc.


Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
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Most helpful customer reviews
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Absolute Novel? Nov. 14 2000
Format:Paperback
Born in Vienna in 1886, Broch is considered one of the great names of 20th Century German literature. Critics will place him in a pantheon that includes Joyce, Musil, Kafka, Mann, and Proust. Son of a well-off Jewish textile manufacturer (at an early age he converted to Catholicism), Broch had thirst for high intellect. Eventually he gave up his academic plans, his future as an industrialist, in pursuit of literature, through which he would deal with ethical questions and realms of experience rejected by the Vienna Circle of logical positivists. Likewise he devoted his life to the study of mass psychology and politics.
"The Sleepwalkers" (published when the author was 40) is a trilogy, a three-dimensional work with one underlying philosophical unit. The first book, "The Romantic" portrays 19th century realism with von Pasenow as main character, a Prussian aristocrat clinging to ethical values considered outdated. The second book, "The Anarchist," portrays the accountant Esch who is in search of a "balance" of values in unstable pre-war Germany. Both characters will meet in the third book "The Realist," and will find hope in a fanatical religious sect, which foresees the coming of a Redeemer (fascism, Hitler). They will be defeated by Huguenau, an army deserter and opportunist, representing the new ethical standards of a society free of values or to put it correctly "with no values." There are several parallel plots, a number of alienated characters, and cumbrous symbolism. To make things a bit more complex and elaborate, there are 16 chapters of poetry, and 10 chapters (Desintegration of Values) of sound and intensive philosophy.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Trilogy of the Disintergration of Values Dec 26 2000
Format:Paperback
Broch's Trilogy is the chronicle of the evolution of Germany in particular and the whole Europe in general between the years 1888 and 1918. The philosophical focus of the trilogy should be searched for in the third novel, Huguenau or the Realist and within that in the essay 'Disintegration of Values", which is allegedly written by a Bertrand Mueller, who according to Broch himself is the same Bertrand who appears in the first two novels of the trilogy. The essay on disintegration of values closely follows Max Weber's Protestant Ethics and the Spirit of Capitalism. In fact not before we understand Weber's theory of modernity and the role of the protestant reformation in the rise of modern Capitalism can we appreciate the full vigor of Broch's narrative. In ten separate parts, Broch explains masterfully the notion of style of an age, the relation of plastic arts with the the style, the concept of inner logic within each indididual value-system and the effect of it on the life of the individual. The third part of the novel, the realist, is the culmination of the trilogy as such. It is where all the characters meet and it is there that Broch uses all different narrative modes. A certain air of inevitablity is prevalent in Broch's narrative of the disintegration of values, which, in turn, appears to follow a certain Hegelian Historicism. This third novel of the trilogy consists of five separate parts, three of which are stories taking place in a German city near the Belgian borders and the other two are the story of the Salvation Army Girl in Berlin, which is Bertrand Mueller's journal and then his essay on the disintegration of values. Read more ›
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
"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
our time.

"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".
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