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Articles tagged "From 1900 To 1950"

The First Morning

I have no definite answer to questions about why I migrated from India to Pakistan after the partition in 1947. I look back and see a crowded train rushing past lively and desolate towns and villages, under a bright sun, and in the dark of night. The train is running through the most frightening night and the passengers are quiet like statues. I strain to hear them breathe. Where will the train stop? And will it move again, if it stops? Half a century later, it seems to have been the...

on Walser and the Visual Arts

Sam Jones: What is it about Walser, do you think, that speaks so powerfully to artists? Tom Whalen: An image, a rhythm, a setting, a philosophical conundrum—I imagine anything out of Walser might make one reach for a brush and palette. A sense of kinship can also be a prime mover. It's easy to like a writer who reminds us simultaneously of our insignificance and the importance of the same. Walser expressed his gratitude to those writers who had the kindness to say yes to him...

Reads Walser in an Abandoned School Bus

1. How did you discover Walser, and what first inspired you to undertake a translation of his work? In the spring of 1973, in the forests of Arkansas, specifically in the woods between Cooter Neck and Rock Island (you won't find them on any map I know), I was living in two abandoned school buses on a knoll in the woods overlooking two cypress-enshrouded ponds. Not much for me to do there, after my twelve hours a week working at Chet Darling's Mobil in Fordyce, but read and...

Knows Meier

1. How did you discover Walser, and what first inspired you to undertake a translation of his work? Two of my friends, T. and M., love Walser very much. I can't remember which of them first spoke to me about him. I remember walking in the Brandenburg countryside outside of Berlin with T., who told me about Walser's micrograms and the painstaking work involved in deciphering them, and we wondered together at the secrecy and loneliness of writing. Then there was M., who took me to...

On Translating Walser

1. How did you discover Walser, and what first inspired you to undertake a translation of his work? On first coming across Walser in graduate school I found his voice beguiling and, at times, infuriating. I began to wonder how that voice might sound in English. It was only after obtaining my first academic job, though, that I found the time to translate some of his short prose. That project led to my arranging a conference on Walser in Hanover, N.H., which in turn led to the book Robert...

An Introduction to Robert Walser

As a reader of Robert Walser for almost 30 years, I'm pleased to host this discussion of the latest addition to the Walser corpus in English: The Assistant. Strange to think that this delightful, century-old book is now finding English-language readers for the very first time. But strange indeed is the career—posthumous and otherwise—of this utterly unique prose genius. Beginnings Robert Walser (1878-1956) was born in Biel/Bienne, Switzerland. Biel/Bienne is on the...

Swiss Literature and “The Assistant”

In no other novel does modern Switzerland show her changing face with such gentle charm. In The Assistant, Robert Walser looks back on his sojourn with the engineer Dubler in Wädenswil in 1903. As a testament to how closely the novel's contents reflect reality, Abendstern, the villa in the novel, stands to this day; and as if quite committed to the literary realism of the nineteenth century, Walser only slightly changes real places and names. He transforms "Wädenswil" to...

Afterword to “The Assistant”

Robert Walser was not quite thirty in 1907 when he sat down in his Berlin apartment—a fifth-story walkup in a rear building at 141 Wilmersdorfer Straße in the Charlottenburg district—and began to write The Assistant. Two years earlier he'd come to the German metropolis to seek his fortune as a writer, following in the footsteps of his brother Karl, a successful illustrator and stage-set designer popular in the city's beau monde. Both of them, as natives of...

Philosophy

Little spider, greet the sun. Don't be down. Give thanks, dear toad, that you are here. The hairy crabs, like roses, all have thorns, and mollusks are reminiscences of women. Know how to be what you are: enigmas that have taken form. Leave responsibilities to the Norm, who will in turn send them on to Heaven. (Sing, cricket: the moon is lit. And, bear, go ahead and dance.) Translation of "Filosofia." Translation copyright 2008 by Gabriel Gudding. All rights reserved.

Galaktioni and I

Yesterday, I was sick, I was dying, Now Zozia must have me on her mind. There's a demon in Galaktioni But there's an angel in me. Every day I receive precious letters. I must go to the garden, today's cold is bitter. The earth gleams in Galaktioni But there's a heavenly spark in me. Far away, the wind shrieks; nearby, a nemesis. Night's falling; it's seven sharp. There's blue in Galaktioni But in my verse, the abyss. Yesterday, I was...

“Bring to me all that’s of no use to others:”

Bring to me all that's of no use to others: My fire must burn it all! I lure life, and I lure death As weightless gifts to my fire. Fire loves light-weighted things: Last year's brushwood, wreathes, words. Fire blazes from this kind of food. You will rise from it purer than ash! I am the Phoenix; only in the fire I sing. Provide for my miraculous life! I burn high--and I burn to the ground. From now on let your nights be light-filled. The icy fire--the...

The Silent Steppe by Mukhamet Shayakhmetov

The Silent Steppe: The Story of a Kazakh Nomad under Stalin is a vivid, personal story of courage and hope in the face of persecution and terror. It breathes new life into a neglected chapter of European history, and should prove useful for Cold War research and socio-cultural anthropology studies. Famine, conscription into the Red Army, the defense of Stalingrad . . . author Mukhamet Shayakhmetov is a remarkable survivor, bolstered by a strong faith. He is now in his eighties. His...

Voice

Dilapidated wall I asked myself Today why she Didn't hang herself Lea, the blonde Lea At night with a rope She'd have dangled Like a ripe pear And the street dogs Would have barked People would have gathered To see her And they'd have shouted "Watch that she doesn't fall" I'd have Locked the gate I'd have mounted a ladder And would've taken her down Like a ripe pear Like a dead girl And would have laid her to rest In a...

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