'between the life we live and the life we feel...there is the invisible border, like a narrow gate'
Set in a boarding school in a remote area of the Habsburg Empire at the turn of the last century, The Confusions of Young Toerless is an intense study of an adolescent's psychological development as he struggles to come to terms with his conflicting emotions. Through his relationship with two other boys Toerless is led into sadistic and sexual encounters with a third pupil which both repel and fascinate him. Estranged from everyday life, Toerless gradually learns to accept
his experiences and describe them with analytical precision.
The novel is based on the author's own experiences at an Austrian military academy. A school story with a difference, Toerless extends the scope of fiction with its non-judgemental presentation of transgressive sexuality and violence. It is a profoundly disturbing exploration of a non-moral outlook on life and of dictatorial attitudes that prefigure the outbreak of the First World War and the rise of fascism.
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Robert Musil (1880-1942) is best known as the author of The Man without Qualities, first translated into English 1953-61. Mike Mitchell taught at the universities of Reading and Stirling before becoming a full-time tranlsator. His work has been many short-listed for prizes; his translation of Rosendorfer's Letters Back to Ancient China won the Schegel-Tieck prize in 1998. He is currently Editorial Director of Dedalus. His translation of Kafka's The Trial is published in OWC. Ritchie Robertson has published widely on German and Austrian literature. He is the author of Kafka: a Very Short Introduction (2004) and has introduced and annotated five Kafka editions for OWC, for which he also translated Kafka's The Man who Disappeared. His latest work is Mock-Epic Poetry from Pope to Heine (OUP, 2009).