I came across this nice article by Ted Gioia entitled Exhuming Robert Musil: A Fresh Look at The Man Without Qualities. Here is an excerpt:
The Man Without Qualities depicts a strange world in which a couple is given a copy of Nietzsche as a wedding gift, a murderer on death row spends his days speculating on the nature of reality, and the most fashionable social gatherings are dominated by heated discussions on the essence of the soul. Neither you nor I have ever lived in such a world. In fact, I doubt that Robert Musil did, although his depiction of Vienna in the period leading up to World War I would lead you to believe that this was a society obsessed with grand thoughts and philosophical debates. But it is a provocative, exciting world, even if it is a fictional one, a world in which personal initiatives and social interactions reverberate with an intensity and intellectual potency rare in any age.