Mild and sensitive Richard Hieck endured a quietly difficult childhood in Germany. But from his father Richard inherited an interest in the night sky, learning to love the constellations and to take comfort in the strength of Orion and the warm radiance of Venus. His choice to pursue mathematics offers him the discipline he craved as a child.
Published in 1933, The Unknown Quantity is Hermann Broch's study of the underlying chaos-and finally the impossibility-of life within a society whose values are in decay. As Richard seeks to reconcile the conflicting demands of love and science, of passion and reason, societal and family values begin to undermine him and those in orbit around him.