The Walk

A New Directions Pearl

Essay

Robert Walser
translated by Susan Bernofsky,Christopher Middleton

Contributors: Susan Bernofsky
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Walser's alternate, preferred version of his most famous tale.

A pseudo-biographical "stroll" through town and countryside rife with philosophic musings, The Walk has been hailed as the masterpiece of Walser's short prose. Walking features heavily in his writing, but nowhere else is it as elegantly considered. Without walking, "I would be dead," Walser explains, "and my profession, which I love passionately, would be destroyed. Because it is on walks that the lore of nature and the lore of the country are revealed, charming and graceful, to the sense and eyes of the observant walker." The Walk was the first piece of Walser's work to appear in English, and the only one translated before his death. However, Walser heavily revised his most famous novella, altering nearly every sentence, rendering the baroque tone of his tale into something more spare. An introduction by translator Susan Bernofsky explains the history of The Walk, and the difference between its two versions.

More Praise…

“The hope that shines forth in the moments of self-knowledge, transcendence, and grace Walser describes is anything but meager: on the contrary, it is exultation the writer feels when he perceives the sublime in the tiniest details of everyday life. ”

The Brooklyn Rail

“If poets like Robert Walser could be counted among our foremost intellects, there wouldn't be any war. If he had 100,000 readers, the world would be a better place.”

“Walser’s project is mirrored and echoed by modernity’s general obsession with interiority and exploring new forms of subjectivity. We should understand Walser’s poetics of smallness as being as grandiose as anything that modernity has produced.”

The Quarterly Conversation

The Walk remains the best starting point for experiencing Walser's unique genius.”

The Quarterly Conversation