“The incredible shrinking writer is a major twentieth-century prose artist who...can be placed in that comic tradition [that] runs form Gogol through Kafka and down to José Saramago...When Walser met Lenin in Zurich during the war, all he had to say was 'So you, too, like fruitcake?'...It is remarkable to see what variety and richness, what easiness and charm, what winsome inanities and philosophical depths he could pack into half a page.”
New Directions was founded in 1936, when James Laughlin (1914 - 1997), then a twenty-two-year-old Harvard sophomore, issued the first of the New Directions anthologies. "I asked Ezra Pound for 'career advice,'" James Laughlin recalled. "He had been seeing my poems for months and had ruled them hopeless. He urged me to finish Harvard and then do 'something' useful."