The Confusions of Young Torless- Robert Musil

Recently I finished ‘The confusions of Young Torless’.

This is an early masterpiece of Robert Musil, whose fame rests on his epic work- The man without qualities.

I can’t say it was an easy read as this is such a dense novel. The plot is very different, even disturbing at times, but his way of writing is marvelous.


It’s all about young Torless, who is sent to a boarding school, far away from his loving parents. There he become friends with two other fellow students, namely Reiting and Beineberg, and with Beineberg he’d often visit a local prostitute named as Bozena, and indulge in all types of youthful activities. Torless, eager to experience the world in his youthful enthusiasm is torn between two worlds, one that of his parents, the familiar world where people lead seemingly perfect lives and the other one of sordid adventures. There he’d be meeting Basini, a fellow pupil, and the plot then moves in to deeper intrigues and eroticism.

Character Sketches


Torless is a young boy, who absolutely loves and respects his parents. He is confused about so many things. A deep thinker, who is a budding intellectual, he has his own concepts about morality and his own world views at this young age. He doesn’t like the treatment meted out to Basini by Reiting and Beineberg, but is too confused to protest. Musil has portrayed him beautifully.


He deserves our sympathy. He is too young and may be too confused as well. He doesn’t know how to protest and is simply manipulated by the duo of Reiting and Beineberg.

Reiting and Beineberg   

Among them, Beineberg is a metaphysical thinker, fascinated by the Oriental philosophy. His father, who was in India, has been his biggest influence.

Reiting is your typical ruthless and cunning bully. He is too clever and would go any extent to achieve his aims.

Parents of Torless

They are kind hearted and loving, living their little contented bourgeoisie lives. Torless is often disturbed by the gap between their perfect lives and the one he has been forced to lead at the school.


Bozena is the local prostitute. She had such big dreams once, but now she has ended up as nothing. Surely we can sympathize with her, but she is very cruel and brutal at the same time.


This is an autobiographical novel, derived from the experiences of Musil at an Austrian military academy.

This is a marvelous work by Musil. As I said earlier, this is a dense novel. I had to reread many paragraphs until I could connect the dots and form a bigger picture. Still its really worthy of the effort!!!



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