Bored to Death. Dreams of Adventure Before and After the First World War

When and Where

Thursday, October 13, 2022 4:00 pm to 6:00 pm
German Seminar Library, Room 323
Odette Hall
50 St Joseph St, Toronto, ON M5S 1J4


Dr. Oliver Grill (LMU Munich)


The “man of 1914 was literally bored to death! That is why the war came upon him with the intoxication of adventure, with the glory of distant undiscovered shores.” Robert Musil made this observation when the end of the First World War was already in sight. Trench warfare had taught Musil and his contemporaries the painful lesson that the dreams of adventure that had accompanied the outbreak of war had been deceptive.
However, their intensity could not be easily forgotten. This ambivalence invites efforts to analyze not only the “boring” cultural situation before the war more generally, but also the dreams of adventure that emerged from it. As the lecture will show on the basis of Musil’s The Man Without Qualities and Thomas Mann’s The Magic Mountain, the most important medium of analysis is the novel, which has been the natural habitat of adventure since at least the Middle Ages.

PDF iconAnnouncement_Dreams of Adventure_Grill_Oct 13.pdf


This talk is part of Dr. Grill’s visiting professorship at the University of Toronto. The stay is funded by the German Research Foundation and hosted by Prof. John Zilcosky


50 St Joseph St, Toronto, ON M5S 1J4