Robert Walser (1878 to 1956, Switzerland) is a unique author. I have previously read and posted on a few of his short stories and you can find some background on him in those posts. Susan Sontag said that the basic theme of Walser was a refusal of obedience and the consequences of trying to be autonomous in increasingly controlling societies. Jacob Von Gunten is the first novel by Walser I have read. The talent and discernment behind this work transcends my ability to describe. It basically is the first person narrative of a young man, Jacob Von Gunten, going to school to learn to be a servant. The school appears to do nothing other than try to impart an attitude of slavish obedience in their students. Combined with a description of school activities and his interactions with students and teachers we also are presented a journal of the thoughts of Jacob. You must wonder what unshown traumas could have pushed a young man of evident high intelligence to wish to be a servant with his whole life dictated by others. There is a great depth of irony in this work. I think this would be an exellant class room work for high school and college students.
Kafka was an avid reader of Walser and I think you will become one also if you give him a try.