Short Stories, Irish literature, Classics, Modern Fiction, Contemporary Literary Fiction, The Japanese Novel, Post Colonial Asian Fiction, The Legacy of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and quality Historical Novels are Among my Interests

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Robert Walser - Two Feuilletons from 1925 - "Parisian Newspapers" and "Dostoevsky's Idiot"

From "Dostoevsky's Idiof" by Robert Walser 

The schedule and guidelines for participation are on the event webpage.  Just reading the  posts of all the other participants is tremendously informative. There is an interesting contest or two and some prizes to be won.  One of the tasks participants are charged with is reading a work first published in 2014 and this collection qualifies.  

I am very happy to be once again participating in German Literature Month, hosted by Caroline of Beauty is a Sleeping Cat and Lizzy of Lizzy's Literary Life.   Events like this are one of the great things about being part of the international book blog community.  I know there is a lot of work that goes into a month long event and I offer my thanks to Lizzy and Caroline

Works I have so far read for German Literature Month 2014

1.   Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse

2.   Gertrude by Hermann Hesse 

3.  "Diary of a School Boy" by Robert Walser (no post)

4.  Steppenwolf by Herman Hesse

5.  Burning Secret by Stefan Zweig

6.  Life Goes On by Hans Keilson

7.  Comedy in a Minor Key by Hans Keilson

8.  "The Wall" by Jurek Becker

9.  "Romeo" by Jurek Becker

10.   "The Invisible City" by Jurek Becker.

11.  Wittgenstein's Nephew by Thomas Bernhard

12. "Dostoevsky's Idiot" by Robert Walser

13.  "French Newspapers" by Robert Wasler 

Last year during German Literature Month in November 2013 I read and posted on a few of the unique short stories of Robert Walser (1878 to 1956, Switzerland).  I also read one of his four novels,  Jakob von Gunten.  Robert Walser wrote a large number feuilletons.  The term originally came from the name for a section of French newspaper that published short non-political personal essays, often with an element of fiction.  Joseph Roth was a master of the form.  The feuilletons of Walser blend into fiction because of the artfully dated persona of the narrators.  As far as I know the two works I will post on here can be read only in Selected Stories Robert Walser, with a preface by Susan Sontag. Both of these works are only about three pages and I read each three times.   Both were first published in 1925 and were translated by Thomss Walen and Carol Gehrig.

"Parisian Newspapers"

In "Parisian Newspapers" Walser, speaking it the first person, talks about how reading Paris newspapers has given him French mansions, beautiful sophisticated Parisian ladies and elegant food.  He has spent days in cheap cafés.  He knows he won't be there but he doesn't need to.  The works feels very improvisational, like a master riff jazz saxophone player.

"Doestoesky's Idiot"

"Doestoesky's Idiot" is Walser's reaction to reading the novel.  Walser almost had to identify strongly with the central character, Prince Mishkyn.  Walser knew he was far from a normal person.  He wants to know why he has not inherited millions.  He talks about the characters in The Idiot.  You can tell,he was deeply impacted by the book and the characters in the novel. In these lines you can see how he projects himself into the story and compares his world to the world of the novel.

I will be reading two more longer works by Wslser soon, "The Walk" and a story both Susan Sontag and W, G. Sebald greatly admired, "Kleist in Thun".

Please share your thoughts on Robert Walser with us.

Mel u

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