“Praise for the monotonous, the uniform, the mundane, the insignificant—such sentiments are everywhere in Walser’s work, and maintain a crucial ambiguity. On the one hand, they are expressions of poetic attunement to those aspects of the world we too readily overlook, and for which writers concerned with heroic exploits often have no time. On the other hand, Walser’s celebration of the monotonous or uniform returns us to his fascination with subservience, with relinquishing all personality to imposed order: ‘Modestly stepping aside can never be recommended as a continual practice in strong enough terms.’”
Ben Lerner on Robert Walser and his recent collection A Schoolboy’s Diary and Other Stories, which was excerpted in our Summer 2013 issue.

“Praise for the monotonous, the uniform, the mundane, the insignificant—such sentiments are everywhere in Walser’s work, and maintain a crucial ambiguity. On the one hand, they are expressions of poetic attunement to those aspects of the world we too readily overlook, and for which writers concerned with heroic exploits often have no time. On the other hand, Walser’s celebration of the monotonous or uniform returns us to his fascination with subservience, with relinquishing all personality to imposed order: ‘Modestly stepping aside can never be recommended as a continual practice in strong enough terms.’”

Ben Lerner on Robert Walser and his recent collection A Schoolboy’s Diary and Other Stories, which was excerpted in our Summer 2013 issue.

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