Broch: First Impressions

“During the last few days he had become uncertain about many things; some pillar or other of life had become shaky, and though everything still remained in place, because the parts reciprocally supported each other, yet along with a vague wish that the vaulted arch of this equilibrium might cave in and entomb beneath it all that was tottering and uncertain, a fear had arisen at the same time that the wish might really be fulfilled, and there had grown within him a longing for permanence, security and peace.”

Reading Hermann Broch for the first time, been interested in reading Death of Virgil for years, but drawn to The Sleepwalkers after someone on Twitter, possibly Charlotte Mandell, posted fragments last year. Halfway through the first volume, The Romantic, first impression is that I like these sinewy sentences, clauses within clauses, the delicate shading, With Edwin and Willa Muir’s translations I always feel in good hands. I like that his style, the disturbed hesitations, so typical of an earlier time, force a slower pace. You must slow down to catch the echoes beneath the words.

5 thoughts on “Broch: First Impressions

  1. This one is on my tbr pile for this year. I own this one along with The Death of Virgil, but I am more drawn to this one. I do hope I get to it. I also purchased The Wedding Dress because I saw you post about it on Twitter (so there is some good that comes from Twitter). I had the best-laid plans to finish the year with The Confidence-Man and Chekhov. But I abandoned those plans, and I am currently reading The Transit of Venus and Daniel Deronda. But I will get to this–Ortofer’s A+ review of this one has long tempted me, too.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I might read Daniel Deronda this year. Definitely my next Eliot. If I read anything better than The Wedding Dress it’ll be a good year of reading. You might have seen my last post with quotes from The Wedding Dress? As soon as I make a plan, it’s as good as derailed. I had no intention of reading Broch, but read the first page and decided to continue. The mystics will wait for me.


      • Too true about plans being derailed! The Confidence-Man got too tedious for me. I had put aside Daniel Deronda, but I’m glad I picked it back up. My next big read is going to be War and Peace (I’m fairly certain). I even have a friend who wants to read it with me.

        And yes, I saw your last post on The Wedding Dress. I have a particular interest in Howe now–not only from your post–but also because I read she is a Catholic writer (and I’m and Orthodox Christian with a great affinity for the Catholic Church, as well as intelligent writers whose work is suffused with Christian themes). I do want to explore her novels, too.

        Liked by 2 people

        • I’ve read Nod, which was terrific. To be honest, I’ll read every word of Howe’s I can get my hands on. Her work is special. I’m not particularly religious but seem to be circling the Christian mystics.


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