Speaking to the Rose: Writings, 1912-1932 by Robert Walser, translated by Christopher Middleton / ISBN 9780803298330 / paperback from Bison Books.
After a wandering, precarious life during which he produced poems, essays, stories, and novels, Walser entered an insane asylum, saying, “I am not here to write, but to be mad.” Many of the unpublished works he left were in fact written in an idiosyncratically abbreviated script that was for years dismissed as an impenetrable private cipher. Fourteen texts from these so-called pencil manuscripts are included in this volume--rich evidence that Walser’s microscripts, rather than the work of incipient madness, were in actuality the product of desperate genius building a last reserve, and as such, a treasure in modern literature.
With a brisk preface and a chronology of Walser’s life and work, this collection of fifty translations of short prose pieces covers the middle to later years of the writer’s oeuvre. It provides unparalleled insight into Walser’s creative process, along with a unique opportunity to experience the unfolding of his rare and eccentric gift.