Little Snow Landscape

Robert Walser, trans. from the German by Tom Whalen. NYRB Classics, $15.95 trade paper (298p) ISBN 978-1-68137-522-9
This charming edition of his short stories and essays by the Swiss writer Walser (1878-1956), selected and translated by Whalen (who also translated Walser’s Girlfriends, Ghosts, and Other Stories), is a testament to the author’s virtuosity. In the archly droll “Farewell,” Walser tries on the voice of Turkey’s final sultan shortly after being dethroned (“I think I was at least something of a personality on the throne,” he narrates, lamenting a new era of bureaucracy). “The Sausage” describes a “wonderfully smoked” wurst with a “bewitching fragrance,” which the narrator regrets having already eaten, a comic piece informed by Whalen’s biographical note about Walser’s chronic poverty. Frequently, the narrators go for walks, such as through the title story’s “rich lovely countryside” that is as “winsome” as a “good little kitten that’s just groomed itself.” In reading these short pieces, translated with mastery and attention to emotional nuance, one is struck by the author’s abiding good nature and boundless sympathy for his milieu. Walser enthusiasts will find much to love here. (Mar.)
Reviewed on : 12/01/2020
Release date: 03/02/2021
Genre: Fiction
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