19 October 2009

Robert Walser Roundup 19 October 2009

Following on from April's roundup of recent publishing events surrounding the œuvre of Robert Walser, six months later there's even more to report!

Firstly, the English translation of the The Tanners finally did come out, although a few months late (reaching the Canadian market on 25 August). After reading Jean Launay's 1985 French translation, reissued in 1992, I very much look forward to reading it in my mother tongue.

But Susan Bernofsky hasn't stopped there. Currently on the horizon, in addition to her forthcoming biography of Robert Walser, is a volume of Walser microgrammes, or Microscripts as they are being called, in English translation. These will be published by New Directions in the spring of 2010, coinciding with an exhibition of the microscripts at the Christine Burgin Gallery in New York. As told by Susan:

This project came about as a co-production with Christine Burgin Gallery after Burgin fell in love with Walser’s miniature manuscripts (both the sheets of paper and the handwriting that covers them are unbelievably small) and decided to put together an exhibition of them in New York, due to open in the spring of 2010. The volume Microscripts will serve as a catalogue for the exhibition—it will contain a number of high-resolution facsimiles of Walser’s beautiful manuscripts—and at the same time is a collection of stories from his late work.
As told by the gallery:
In Spring 2010 the Christine Burgin Gallery and New Directions will publish a facsimile edition of Robert Walser's microscripts with new translations by Susan Bernofsky. This will be the first publication in English illustrated by and devoted to Robert Walser's microscripts.


The Microscripts
Robert Walser
New Directions
Hardback, 160 pages
ISBN 9780811218801
25 May 2010
$24.95 US (Canadian market information unavailable at this time)

It seems to me that this book will be a cross between two books previously published by Geneva-based Éditions Zoe:
  1. Le territoire du crayon (2003), 400 pages of microgramme prose in French translation.

  2. Robert Walser, l'écriture miniature (2004), a 91-page album explaining what the microgrammes are, and featuring numerous reproductions of actual microgrammes, along with their French translations.
Despite its 400 pages, the former is in reality but a small subset of the microgrammes published in the monumental six-volume Aus dem Bleistiftgebiet. Mikrogramme aus den Jahren 1924–1933 (2003). Every time I see this beautiful boxed set sitting on the shelves of Das Buch on Sherbrooke Street East, I have to hold myself back from buying it, reminding myself that my German is nowhere near good enough to be able to read the Walser Microgrammes in their original language. But I d

Getting back on topic, believe it or not, there's even more on the way from Susan Bernofsky! On her website, she mentions a forthcoming English translation of Robert Walser's "Berlin Stories", to be published by the New York Review of Books in their Classics series. This has also been confirmed by NYRB Classics themselves. I had never even heard of the "Berlin Stories" before today. If anyone knows what these are, and what texts they correspond to in the complete works of Robert Walser in German, I'd love to hear from you...

Moving on to the French side of things, on 9 September 2009 Gallimard reissued La Rose, Bernard Lortholoary's 1987 translation of Die Rose. It's due out later t
his month in Canada. This book features one of my favourite Walser quotations: "Personne n'a le droit de se comporter à mon endroit comme s'il me connaissait".

Éditions Zoe have lots of Walser stuff coming out in the next few months:
  • Proses brèves, vol. 2 : Nouvelles du jour is being reissued on 27 November 2009 (11 January 2010 in Canada).

  • Marion Graf has translated Kleine Prosa (1917) into French for the very first time; Petite prose is to be published in Europe on 28 January 2010, and in Canada shortly thereafter.

  • She's also translated a collection of Walser's 1909 poems under the title Au bureau : poèmes de 1909, which is also due out on 28 January. This volume is to include illustrations by his brother Karl Walser.

  • Finally, Vie de poète (Marion Graf's 2006 translation of Poetenleben for Éditions Zoe) is being reissued by Le Seuil's papberback imprint Points on 28 February 2010, with a new foreword by Philippe Delerm.
Ouf! Quelle aventure... While all of this is going on, Suhrkamp too seem to have constant stream of Walser publications coming out in the original German, including Robert Walser for Idlers, a book of bons mots and aphorisms, and Der Schnee fällt nicht hinauf - 33 Gedichte, a collection of 33 (winter?) poems.

Exciting times indeed!