Early 20th century Swiss novelist
Swiss writer Robert Walser (1878-1956) worked as a bank clerk, a butler in a castle, and an inventor's assistant, and produced nine novels and more than a thousand stories. He stopped writing in 1933 when he was hospitalized for mental illness, declaring, "I am not here to write, but to be mad."
“The poems also give us Walser's manner in concentrated miniature, and it could be that rhyme — joining the disparate, cultivating the arbitrary - is at the heart of what he is doing. They are odd, whimsical, insouciant things, exhilarating in their ability to be what they are. ”
“The Walk is a good place to start reading Walser, and offers a kind of bridge between the novels and the microscripts.... The walk is a search for freedom, is an act of freedom itself, and the writing feels free to launch into invective, or drape itself in courtesy, as it pleases. It is an attempt to approximate writing to life, to subject it to circumstance and chance encounter, but for all its overt artificiality the story is deeply affecting. ”
“It is no wonder that Walser has been so influential to artists and writers whose work is similarly charged with social criticism, examinations of the individual in relation to the world, and the attempt to fathom artistic inspiration.”