Musil, (Joseph) Roth, and Hammett
The Man Without Qualities (1930-1942) is not a crime novel, but bits of it will interest crime readers (and I haven't even got to Moosbrugger yet):
"THIS man who had returned home could not remember any time in his life that had not been animated by his determination to become a man of importance; it was as though Ulrich had been born with this wish. It is true that such an urge may be a sign of vanity and stupidity; it is no less true, however, that it is a very fine and proper desire, without which there would probably not be many men of importance.These aren't bad, either:
The only snag was that he did not know either how one became such a man or what a man of importance was. In his schooldays he had taken Napoleon for one; this was partly out of youth’s natural admiration for criminality..."
"It is a fundamental characteristic of civilisation that man most profoundly mistrusts those living outside his own milieu..."and
"For some time now such a social idée fixe has been a kind of super-American city where everyone rushes about, or stands still, with a stop-watch in his hand."and
"Like all big cities, it consisted of irregularity, change, sliding forward, not keeping in step, collisions of things and affairs..."I noticed, too, that Roth and Musil, those acute witnesses to the traumatic birth of modern Europe, make their astonished remarks about the noisy vitality of American cities in precisely the years (1922-1930) when Dashiell Hammett was perfecting hard-boiled crime fiction, an urban-based genre if there ever was one.
© Peter Rozovsky 2012