Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Robert Walser: Microscripts

It was a real pleasure re-entering the strange world of Robert Walser's prose pieces in the newly published Microscripts. This is a selection of English translations of the myriad strips and odd pieces of discarded paper, used envelopes, advertising flyers, etc., containing the tiny texts written in Walser's unique radically miniaturized version of German Kurrent script which were left behind after his death in 1956.

The items range from whimsical musings and observations about quotidian events that captured his fancy to short fictional narratives.

In most of these pieces the Walserian penchant for long sentences which continually veer in unpredictable twists and turns is in full flower. It's that ever surprising quality of the writing allied to a truly strange imagination that makes the reading so much fun.

This edition is very scholarly in it's documentation of the original sources including photos of each original microscript text heading the English translation of it that follows and extensive footnotes as well as reprintings of the German texts that were used for the translations at the back of the book. Also included as an Afterword is a translation of an interesting essay of appreciation of Walser by Walter Benjamin.

So, I'd say this is definitely essential for dedicated Walserians but probably not the best introduction to his work. In that category I'd recommend the novel The Robber and the collection Speaking to the Rose.

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