"Masquerade" and Other Stories by Robert Walser

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Synopsis

Born in Switzerland in 1878, Robert Walser worked as a bank clerk, a butler in a castle, and an inventor's assistant before discovering what William H. Gass calls his "true profession." From 1899 until he was misdiagnosed a schizophrenic and hospitalized in 1933, Walser produced nine novels and more than a thousand short stories and prose pieces.

Walser's contemporary admirers were few but well-placed. They included Franz Kafka, Hermann Hesse, Robert Musil, and Walter Benjamin. Today Robert Walser is widely regarded as one of the most important and original literary voices of the twentieth century. In "Masquerade" and Other Stories, Susan Bernofsky presents a representative selection of Walser's work, from his first published fiction to the stately prose of the last years before his voice vanished forever behind the asylum walls. Written between 1899 and 1933, these 64 sketches, scenes, stories, and wanderings through landscapes and dreamscapes are characterized by startling, skewed comparisons, warpings of syntax, vagaries of perspective, and a delight in contradiction. Quirky, playful, and sometimes bizarre, Walser's texts were unconventional by the standards of the early twentieth century. They are still innovative in the context of today's fiction.

 

About Robert Walser

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Robert Walser (1878-1956) was born in Switzerland. He left school at fourteen and led a wandering and precarious existence working as a bank clerk, a butler in a castle, and an inventor's assistant while producing essays, stories, and novels. In 1933 he abandoned writing and entered a sanatorium-where he remained for the rest of his life. "I am not here to write," Walser said, "but to be mad.
 
Published February 1, 1990 by John Hopkins University Press. 232 pages
Genres: Literature & Fiction. Fiction