22.10.12

Sebald on Walser: 'My Constant Companion'

An extract from Sebald's 'Le Promeneur Solitaire'

New Directions have posted an extract from W. G. Sebald's essay, 'Le Promeneur Solitaire: A Remembrance of Robert Walser' (link via 3:AM Magazine):
Among my early encounters with Walser I count the discovery I made, in an antiquarian bookshop in Machest in the second half of the 1960s––inserted in a copy of Bächtold’s three-volume biography of Gottfried Keller which had almost certainly belonged to a German-Jewish refugee––of an attractive sepia photograph depicting the house on the island in the Aare, completely surround by shrubs and trees, in which Kleist worked on his drama of madness Die Familie Ghonorez before he, himself sick, had to commit himself to the care of Dr. Wyttenbach in Berne. Since then I have slowly learned to grasp how everything is connected across space and time, the life of Prussian writer Kleist with that of a Swiss author who claims to have worked as a clerk in a brewery in Thun, the echo of a pistol shot across the Wannsee with the view from a window of the Herisau asylum, Walser’s long walks with my own travels, dates of birth with dates of death, happiness with misfortune, natural history and the history of our industries, that of Heimat with that of exile. On all these paths Walser has been my constant companion. I only need to look up for a moment in my daily work to see him standing somewhere, a little apart, the unmistakable figure of the solitary walker just pausing to take in the surroundings. [Read More]
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