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“The Assistant” Book Club Discussion

By The Editors

Post your thoughts on Walser or The Assistant below. Comments are moderated, and will appear after a very short delay, so avoid posting twice if you notice that your post doesn't appear immediately.

Have a thought but need a prompt to put it into words? Take a look at our discussion questions:

—Some reviewers see Tobler as a villain, but Marti seems to view him with sympathy and affection as well as fear. What are we supposed to think of Tobler?

—Compared with Walser works previously available in English, The Assistant is arguably the most conventional. Sam Jones drew comparisons with contemporary works by Mann and Hamsun. What other possible influences do you see in The Assistant?

—In some ways The Assistant is a puzzling sort of bildungsroman, or novel of a young man's progress to adulthood. Instead of instruction in responsibility and morality, 23-year-old Marti finds an adult world of deception, humiliation, and failure. In what other ways does The Assistant confound expectations?

—Starting on page 94, a scene from Marti's childhood "appears before him with great vividness." What's happening in this scene, and how might it help explain Marti's relationship with Frau Tobler?

Published May 29, 2008   Copyright 2008 The Editors

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