Friday, June 4, 2010

Robert Wasler — Microscripts

New Directions has been putting out some really classy, good-looking books this year. I've mentioned Roberto Bolaño's Antwerp quite a couple of times, and last week I talked about Anne Carson's Nox; well here is another exciting and beautiful addition for your bookshelves...

The long awaited translations of Robert Walser's (The Assistant & The Tanners) Microscripts!

When Walser passed away in 1956 the executor of his estate, Carl Seelig, assumed that the small strips of paper were covered with markings around a millimeter or two high. Seelig figured that Walser had been writing in an undecipherable code while being hospitalized for schizophrenia in the Waldau Sanitarium.

What have now been termed Walser's Microscripts, turned out to be a miniaturized form of the Kurrent script, a kind of shorthand for German-speaking countries that was used until the mid-twentieth century. These Microscripts turned out to be early versions of Walser's novels and countless stories. New Directions has collected some of these stories, along with full-color plates of the original Microscripts.

These short stories are wonderful, masterful examples of the great storyteller Walser was. Susan Bernofsky has done an excellent job translating and Walter Benjamin's afterword is captivating.

Any fan of Walser (or literature) will get endless pleasure from this book.

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