- 79,00 kr
A collection of previously unpublished short prose by one of the most influential figures of twentieth-century fiction.
Little Snow Landscape opens in 1905 with an encomium to Robert Walser’s homeland and concludes in 1933 with a meditation on his childhood in Biel, the town of his birth, published in the last of his four years in the cantonal mental hospital in Waldau outside Bern. Between these two poles, the book maps Walser’s outer and inner wanderings in various narrative modes. Here you find him writing in the persona of a girl composing an essay on the seasons, of Don Juan at the moment he senses he’s outplayed his role, and of Turkey’s last sultan shortly after he’s deposed. In other stories, a man falls in love with the heroine of the penny dreadful he’s reading (and she with him?), and the lady of a house catches her servant spread out on the divan casually reading a classic. Three longer autobiographical stories—“Wenzel,” “Würzburg,” and “Louise”—brace the whole. In addition to a representative offering of Walser’s short prose, of which he was one of literature’s most original, multifarious, and lucid practitioners, Little Snow Landscape forms a kind of novel, however apparently plotless, from the vast unfinishable one he was constantly writing.
This charming edition of his short stories and essays by the Swiss writer Walser (1878-1956), selected and translated by Whalen (who also translated Walser's Girlfriends, Ghosts, and Other Stories), is a testament to the author's virtuosity. In the archly droll "Farewell," Walser tries on the voice of Turkey's final sultan shortly after being dethroned ("I think I was at least something of a personality on the throne," he narrates, lamenting a new era of bureaucracy). "The Sausage" describes a "wonderfully smoked" wurst with a "bewitching fragrance," which the narrator regrets having already eaten, a comic piece informed by Whalen's biographical note about Walser's chronic poverty. Frequently, the narrators go for walks, such as through the title story's "rich lovely countryside" that is as "winsome" as a "good little kitten that's just groomed itself." In reading these short pieces, translated with mastery and attention to emotional nuance, one is struck by the author's abiding good nature and boundless sympathy for his milieu. Walser enthusiasts will find much to love here.