Alois Musil

Alois Musil (June 30, 1868 in Rychtářov, Vyškov - April 12, 1944, Otryby, Soběšín) was an Austro-Hungarian and Moravian theologist, orientalist, explorer and writer.

Musil was the oldest son born into the family of a poor farmer. He was a second cousin of Robert Musil, the famous writer . In the years 1887–1891 he studied Roman Catholic theology at the University of Olomouc, was consecrated as a priest in 1891 and received a doctorate in theology in 1895. In the years 1895–1898 he studied at the Dominican Biblical School in Jerusalem, in 1897-1898 at the Jesuit University of St. Joseph in Beirut, 1899 in London, Cambridge and Berlin.

He traveled extensively throughout the Arab world and kept on coming back to it until 1917, collecting a huge body of scientific material. Among his discoveries was the desert castle of Qasr Amra (from the 8th century) with figural Islamic paintings. His unhealthy lifestyle caused him a serious lung disease.

Between his trips Musil kept working on his publications and lecturing. In 1902 he became professor of theology at the University of Olomouc, in 1909 professor of Biblical studies and Arabic at Vienna University. In addition to modern and classical languages he mastered 35 dialects of Arabic.

During World War I he was sent to the Middle East to eliminate English attempts to instigate a revolution against Turkey, thus being an opponent of T. E. Lawrence. After the war he became a professor at Charles University in Prague (1920), despite opposing voices resenting his close ties with the House of Habsburg. He helped to establish the Oriental Institute of the Academy of Sciences in Prague (Orientální ústav Akademie Věd, in 1927).

In cooperation with the American industrialist Charles Richard Crane he published his works in English (1922–23). In addition to scientific work and popular travel books he published 21 novels for young readers.

Musil worked for Charles University until 1938, but was active until the very end of his life. He died due to kidney dysfunction complicated by a lung disease.

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Famous quotes containing the word musil:

    Philosophers are people who do violence, but have no army at their disposal, and so subjugate the world by locking it into a system.
    —Robert Musil (1880–1942)