The People’s Choice Award: Genese Grill
33: Genese Grill
Create the first English-language biography of the Austrian novelist Robert Musil
I am a writer, translator, scholar, and artist, author of The World as Metaphor in Robert Musil’s “The Man without Qualities”: Possibility as Reality (Camden House, 2012), translator of 4 books of Robert Musil and co-translator of What Remains: The Collected Poetry of Hannah Arendt with Samantha Rose Hill. My literary essays, translator introductions, and scholarly writing have appeared in The Georgia Review, Numero Cinq, The Missouri Review, On the Sea Wall, and elsewhere. And my book of essays, Portals: Reflections on the Spirit in Matter (Splice, 2023) explores the important role of materiality in life, ethics, and art.
This would be the first English-language biography of a writer who, in German is compared to Thomas Mann and Franz Kafka (as three greatest 20th century prose writers) and who is compared with Marcel Proust and James Joyce in the wider European context. His life and work are uniquely relevant to contemporary burning questions in both the realm of art and life. Already I am discovering important central themes and questions of Musil’s life that relate to our current human condition. One of the main themes of the book is about creative spaces and conditions wherein seemingly different ideas, cultures, and ways of life can co-exist fruitfully without cancelling each other out. Musil represents a unique mind capable of open-ended inquiry and of existing in uncomfortable spaces of uncertainty (what Keats called “Negative Capability”). He was very resistant to “final solutions” of any kinds, and did not fall easily into categories (he was a scientist and a mystic, an advocate of precision and soul, an experimenter and a traditionalist) and his struggle to bear witness to the atrocities of fascism and totalitarianism is an enduring example of the courage of the artist in the face of terror and partisan pressures.
Draft Introduction. “This is a draft of my introduction to my translation of Theater Symptoms. It shows how cultural/biographical material might be used to find meaning.”
A Sort of Introduction. “A draft attempt at a chapter for the biography, showing how I need to be less abstract and need to add more stories!”