Skip to product information
1 of 1



Or, the Forgotten Sister

by Robert Musil, translated from the German by Joel Agee

Regular price $17.95
Regular price Sale price $17.95

Agathe is the sister of Ulrich, the restless and elusive “man without qualities” at the center of Robert Musil’s great, unfinished novel of the same name. For years Agathe and Ulrich have ignored each other, but when brother and sister find themselves reunited over the bier of their dead father, they are electrified. Each is the other’s spitting image, and Agathe, who has just separated from her husband, is even more defiant and inquiring than Ulrich. Beginning with a series of increasingly intense “holy conversations,” the two gradually enlarge the boundaries of sexuality, sensuality, identity, and understanding in pursuit of a new, true form of being that they are seeking to discover.

Robert Musil’s The Man Without Qualities is perhaps the most profoundly exploratory and unsettling masterpiece of twentieth-century fiction. Agathe; or, The Forgotten Sister reveals with new clarity a particular dimension of this multidimensional book—the dimension that meant the most to Musil himself and that inspired some of his most searching writing. The outstanding translator Joel Agee captures the acuity, audacity, and unsettling poetry of a book that is meant to be nothing short of life-changing.

Additional Book Information

Series: NYRB Classics
ISBN: 9781681373836
Pages: 400
Publication Date:


Shortlisted for the 2020 Helen & Kurt Wolff Translator’s Prize

Agathe is 350 pages, a respectable length, and yet it feels—especially against the perspective of the nihil alienum, all-singing, all-dancing Man Without Qualities—almost like a novella…. It reads like a book Agee was born to translate. I wonder if I have ever read a better translation. The book shines with pleasure, the complex sentences opening in front of you, balanced and sequential and easy to follow in all their twists and curlicues... A superlative translation, it is equally good over long distances (making it less susceptible to quotation), and in bravura passages timed to perfection[.]
—Michael Hofmann, New York Review of Books

Agathe represents a kind of concentrate of the quests and questions of its monumental source material: in it, as George Steiner once wrote about part three of the original novel, ‘what was previous a kaleidoscope narrows to a laser’. . . . Musil’s sentences are never less than elegant (a handsome precision reflected in Joel Agee’s translation).
—Julian Evans, The Daily Telegraph

In Agee's vividly contemporary and sensuous translation, Agathe zeroes in on a quasi-mystical adventure in living and loving.
—Lisa Appignanesi, The New York Times Book Review

[A] valuable addition to modernist European literature.

View full details
  • Shopping for someone else but not sure what to give them? Give them the gift of choice with a New York Review Books Gift Card.

    Gift Cards 
  • A membership for yourself or as a gift for a special reader will promise a year of good reading.

    Join NYRB Classics Book Club 
  • Is there a book that you’d like to see back in print, or that you think we should consider for one of our series? Let us know!

    Tell us about it