“The literary word resembles a person who roams at will” – Robert Musil

“The sentence not only derives its meaning from the words: the words derive their meaning from the sentence, and the relationship between page and sentence, whole work and page, is no different…the embracing and the embraced develop their meaning mutually out of each other, and the structure of a page of good prose is, analyzed logically, not something frozen but the vibrating of a bridge, which changes with every step one takes on it…”

“One can only explain that it is from all the details taken together, and through their mutual interpenetration, that the whole arises in a way that remains mysterious…a transformation of sense that eludes logic…but the meanings are related to each other, and when one grasps one meaning the others peep through beneath it…”

-Robert Musil – “Literati & Literature” –

2 thoughts on ““The literary word resembles a person who roams at will” – Robert Musil

  1. I’m doing a little revision today on a manuscript, and when I first read this and started thinking about it, I found it quite freeing: why torture myself over one word when it is held up by those around it? But now that I’ve worked and pondered a little more, I find it almost paralyzing: if I change this one word, will the whole paragraph go crumbling in to meaningless? My own insecurities aside, thanks for the great quote!

  2. The interconnectedness of everything does seem to increase response-ability as well as free “mistakes” to tunnel their own way into the world. His broken shards idea comforted me so as I am always looking for ways to give credit to those who fill and runnel through my brain and body while translating it through whatever myself might be. Has the feeling for me of a relief of process as well as a care of creating with ultimacy resting nowhere.

"A word is a bridge thrown between myself and an other - a territory shared by both" - M. Bakhtin

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