Robert Walser (1878-1956) was born in Switzerland. He left school at fourteen and led a wandering and precarious existence working as a bank clerk, a butler in a castle, and an inventor's assistant while producing essays, stories, and novels. In 1933 he abandoned writing and entered a sanatorium-where he remained for the rest of his life. "I am not here to write," Walser said, "but to be mad." Susan Bernofsky is the acclaimed translator of Hermann Hesse, Robert Walser, and Jenny Erpenbeck, and the recipient of many awards, including the Helen and Kurt Wolff Prize and the Hermann Hesse Translation Prize. She teaches literary translation at Columbia University and lives in New York. Lydia Davis is currently a finalist for the 2013 Man Booker International Prize. Distinguished poet and translator Christopher Middleton lives in Austin, Texas. His awards include the Geoffrey Faber Memorial Prize and the Schegel-Tieck Translation Prize.
"Walser achieved a remarkable tone, in which perfect assurance and perfect ambiguity combine." -- Benjamin Kunkel - The New Yorker "Everyone who reads Walser falls in love with him." -- Nicholas Lazard - The Guardian "A Paul Klee in prose, a good-humoured, sweet Beckett, Walser is a truly wonderful, heartbreaking writer." -- Susan Sontag "Bold and idiosyncratic." -- Lydia Davis "Singular-genius." " -- Ben Lerner "Written between 1902 and 1930 and, with two exceptions, previously untranslated, the pieces gathered here elaborate a nervous, slapstick sort of hack journalism that set the stage for a fabulously experimental modernist writing situation whose fans included Kafka, Musil, and Benjamin." -- John Kelsey - Artforum