"Masquerade" and Other Stories

Front Cover
Johns Hopkins University Press, 1990 - Fiction - 202 pages
Born in Switzerland in 1878, Robert Walser worked as a bank clerk, a butler in a castle, and an inventor's assistant before discovering what William H. Gass calls his "true profession." From 1899 until he was misdiagnosed a schizophrenic and hospitalized in 1933, Walser produced nine novels and more than a thousand short stories and prose pieces.

Walser's contemporary admirers were few but well-placed. They included Franz Kafka, Hermann Hesse, Robert Musil, and Walter Benjamin. Today Robert Walser is widely regarded as one of the most important and original literary voices of the twentieth century. In "Masquerade" and Other Stories, Susan Bernofsky presents a representative selection of Walser's work, from his first published fiction to the stately prose of the last years before his voice vanished forever behind the asylum walls. Written between 1899 and 1933, these 64 sketches, scenes, stories, and wanderings through landscapes and dreamscapes are characterized by startling, skewed comparisons, warpings of syntax, vagaries of perspective, and a delight in contradiction. Quirky, playful, and sometimes bizarre, Walser's texts were unconventional by the standards of the early twentieth century. They are still innovative in the context of today's fiction.

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User Review  - MSarki - LibraryThing

The very short stories of Robert Walser in no way thrill me as much as his longer fiction does. Even though, I do like to read them. It is amazing to realize for oneself the same as the critics say ... Read full review

Masquerade and other stories

User Review  - Not Available - Book Verdict

As William Gass points out in the forward, Walser was a post-modernist dating back to the first quarter of the century. He loved his food, his beer, and his freedom to ramble in both the Swiss and ... Read full review

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About the author (1990)

William Howard Gass was born in Fargo, North Dakota on July 30, 1924. During World War II, he served as an ensign in the Navy. He received an A.B. in philosophy from Kenyon College in 1947 and a PhD in philosophy from Cornell University in 1954. He taught at several universities including The College of Wooster, Purdue University, and Washington University in St. Louis. He wrote novels, collections of short stories and novellas, and collections of criticism. His novels included Omensetter's Luck, Middle C, and The Tunnel, which received the American Book Award. His other works of fiction included In the Heart of the Heart of the Country, Willie Master's Lonesome Wife, Cartesian Sonata and Other Novellas, and Eyes: Novellas and Stories. His collections of criticism included Tests of Time; A Temple of Texts, which won the 2007 Truman Capote Award for Literary Criticism; and Habitations of the Word and Finding a Form, which both won the National Book Critics Circle Award for Criticism. His essay collections included Fiction and the Figures of Life, The World Within the Word, and Reading Rilke. He died from congestive heart failure on December 6, 2017 at the age of 93.

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