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Girlfriends, Ghosts, and Other Stories (New…
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Girlfriends, Ghosts, and Other Stories (New York Review Books Classics) (original: 2016; edição: 2016)

de Robert Walser (Autor), Tom Whalen (Tradutor), Nicole Kongeter (Tradutor), Annette Wiesner (Tradutor)

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Girlfriends, Ghosts, and Other Stories brings together eighty-one brief texts spanning Robert Walser's career, from pieces conceived amid his early triumphs to later works written at a psychiatric clinic in Bern. Many were published in the feuilleton sections of newspapers during Walser's life; others were jotted down on slips of paper and all but forgotten. Together they string together small nutshells of consciousness, idiosyncratic and vulnerable, genuine in their irony, wistful in their humor. The portraits and landscapes here are observed with tenderness and from a place of great anxiety. Some dwell on childish or transient topics-carousels, the latest hairstyles, an ekphrasis of the illustrations in a picture book-others on the grand themes of nature, art, and love. But they remain conversational, almost lighter than air. Every emotion ventured takes on the weight of a sincerity that is imperiled as soon as it comes into contact with the outside world, which retains all of the novelty it had in childhood-and all of the danger. Walser's speakers are attuned to the silent music of being; students of the ineffable and neighbors to madness, they are now exhilarated, now paralyzed by frequencies inaudible to less sensitive ears.… (mais)
Membro:GlennRussell
Título:Girlfriends, Ghosts, and Other Stories (New York Review Books Classics)
Autores:Robert Walser (Autor)
Outros autores:Tom Whalen (Tradutor), Nicole Kongeter (Tradutor), Annette Wiesner (Tradutor)
Informação:NYRB Classics (2016), Edition: Main, 192 pages
Coleções:Sua biblioteca
Avaliação:*****
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Girlfriends, ghosts, and other stories de Robert Walser (2016)

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Exibindo 5 de 5
Liked this very much. ( )
  kvschnitzer | Dec 9, 2019 |


Robert Walser (1878-1956) - German-speaking Swiss author of Jokob von Gunten and other novels and tales, a writer much admired by Franz Kafka, Robert Musil, Stefan Zweig, Walter Benjamin and Hermann Hesse. I can see the connection with Hesse since dreamy, hypersensitive Robert Walser could have been a character right off the pages of a Hesse novel.

Indeed, reading this collection of short entries on nature, art, writing, love and everyday occurrences, suffering toothache, wearing an overcoat, sipping tea, I had the strong sense Walser captures, in his own unique voice, much of the magic and tenderness of a child’s perception of the world.

You can read Tom Whalen’s informative ten page Afterward in this New York Review Books (NYRB) edition to become acquainted with Robert Walser’s life and writing, including how he worked as a clerk and butler and other menial jobs to support himself and how he spent his later years in mental institutions where he penciled tiny prose works in a coded microscript.

Back on Hesse, by my eye Walser’s connection to his fellow Swiss artist's romanticism and poetic vision of life is so directly linked, I’ve included Hesse watercolors to accompany quotes taken from several of the over eighty miniature pieces, each one usually one or two pages, that comprise Girlfriends, Ghosts and Other Stories.

"I never wrote poems in summer. The blossom and resplendence were too sensuous for me. In summer I was melancholy. In autumn a melody came over the world. I was in love with the fog, with the first beginnings of darkness, with the cold. I found the snow divine, but perhaps even more beautiful, more divine, seemed the dark, wild warm storms of early spring. In the winter cold, the evening glistened and shimmered enchantingly." From Poetry



Reading Robert Walser also put me in mind of Italo Calvino’s Invisible Cities, especially Octavia, the spider-web city, a thin city, with its ropes and chain and catwalks bound to two mountain crests over the void. Take a look at the below three quotes, where Robert feels the wind sweeping along like the hope of youth and experiences everything moving; or nature as so soft and delicate; or he reads a book without words, a book of pictures where clouds float in bold simple lines. We can imagine Robert Walser returning to Octavia in the evening where he will climb a rope ladder to mediate on the shape of the stars from a hammock outside his house, a house made like a sack.

"The wind swept along like the hope of youth, like a new, never before felt confidence. Everything moved, the wash flapped and fluttered, the train smoke flew up and was lost. I, too, lost myself. It was as if I were enchanted, as if born anew, and full of delight I looked up at the morning sky where the sacred, golden clouds floated. Melting into splendor and bliss they dissolved, and then the sun came out, day was here." from The Morning



"I stepped under the roof of a summerhouse that stands on the rocks. Everything green quickly became dripping wet. Down on the street a few people stood under the dense foliage of the chestnut trees as if under wide umbrellas. This looked so strange I don't recall ever having seen anything quite like it. Not a single raindrop pushed its way through the densely layered mass of leaves. The lake was in part blue, in part dark gray. Such a pleasant, stormy, sweet rustling in the air. Everything was so soft and delicate. I could have stood there for hours reveling in the world. But at last I went on my way." from On The Terrace



"This is a book without words, it tells its story in pictures, in fleetingly drawn sketches of a singular art and gracefulness; it contains a fine, understandable language, a tale filled with age-old suspense; it breaths with life, and when you turn its pages, the sorrow and bliss of nature step toward you entrancingly. The vast, sedate country life breathes its wind upon you. Wind and clouds blow and float in these bold and simple lines. Bushes blooming, country roads – and then the masterly pen compels the sun towards its natural, thought-provoking demise." from An ABC in Pictures by Max Liebermann



"Then, as I lay there comfortably and languidly summer humming all around, there appeared from out of the sunny ocean-and-sky-bright bliss two eyes that looked on me with infinite kindness. I also clearly saw cheeks drawing nearer to my own as if they wanted to touch them, and a wonderfully beautiful, as if formed from pure sun, finely curved, voluptuous mouth came out of the reddish-blue air close to mind as if it wanted to touch my mouth as well. The firmament I saw through my eyes I had pressed closed was completely pink and hemmed by a splendid velvety black. I looked into a world of pure bliss. But then all of a sudden I stupidly opened my eyes, and the mouth and cheeks and eyes were gone and all at once I was robbed of the sky’s sweet kiss. What’s more, by then it was time to go back down to the city to business and my daily work." from Lunch Break

Reflecting on the above quote, perhaps this is one reason Robert Walser spent the last years of his life in a sanatorium – he could take his long walks in nature, lie down in the grass or lie down in the snow and never be obliged to open his eyes and return to work so as to be robbed of the sky’s sweet kiss. Fortunately for lovers of literature, he kept his eyes open enough during his lifetime to pen or pencil a string of highly imaginative first-rate fictions.

Recognizing just how sensitive a man he was, we can begin to understand after a certain point he quite writing. As he told Carl Seelig, one of his great admirers, who payed visits to the sanatorium: “I am not here to write, but to be mad.”





"I am crowned with the most cheerful serenity. Yesterday I was like a snapped-off plant, while today I’m a sturdy tree. What illusions can do to us! Brain power, you’re weird! Now that this Nobel Prize business no longer weighs on me, how noble I seem. Yes, the world is gay and serious.” from The Nobel Prize. ( )
  Glenn_Russell | Nov 13, 2018 |
A beguiling and perplexing collection of feuilletons and prose pieces, many of which were written after Walser achieved some fame and success with his novels (that I've not read). Walser's writing is bird-like, ambiguous, flitting from one idea to another. The tone is light and swift-footed, but it's a fugitive kind of lightness--underneath, Walser is burrowing into some deep stuff and can often be unsettling. It's necessary to read him closely.

What struck me the most at this point was that many of the pieces in the first half of the book were written during the first world war, and Walser does not once talk about it directly. Instead, there are constant references to the beauty of nature, of the miniscule things one notices on a daily basis, and most importantly, the kindness of people. In the Walserian world, a sense of being in the world is enhanced when people and nature itself are friendly, gentle, and tender. "A heaven open when people are kind to one another". In one of the only pieces where he dwells in the dark, written in 1917, he says, "And the people were poor, pale, sick, storm-driven slaves lashed into terror. No one trusted anyone anymore."

This typical Walserian focus on kindness and a general sense of hospitality is a kind of salve. Far from being a retreat from serious matters and "real life", it seems to suggest a commitment to people and the world in a time of brutality, when it would have been easy to simply write about how bad things were, and that's interesting to think about.

My full review is available here. ( )
  subabat | Mar 20, 2018 |

Robert Walser (1878-1956) - German-speaking Swiss author of Jokob von Gunten and other novels and tales, a writer much admired by Franz Kafka, Robert Musil, Stefan Zweig, Walter Benjamin and Hermann Hesse. I can see the connection with Hesse since dreamy, hypersensitive Robert Walser could have been a character right off the pages of a Hesse novel. Indeed, reading this collection of short entries on nature, art, writing, love and everyday occurrences, suffering toothache, wearing an overcoat, sipping tea, I had the strong sense Walser captures, in his own unique voice, much of the magic and tenderness of a child’s perception of the world.

You can read Tom Whalen’s informative ten page Afterward in this New York Review Books (NYRB) edition to become acquainted with Robert Walser’s life and writing, including how he worked as a clerk and butler and other menial jobs to support himself and how he spent his later years in mental institutions where he penciled tiny prose works in a coded microscript. Back on Hesse, by my eye Walser’s connection to his fellow Swiss artist's romanticism and poetic vision of life is so directly linked, I’ve included Hesse watercolors to accompany quotes taken from several of the over eighty miniature pieces, each one usually one or two pages, that comprise Girlfriends, Ghosts and Other Stories.

"I never wrote poems in summer. The blossom and resplendence were too sensuous for me. In summer I was melancholy. In autumn a melody came over the world. I was in love with the fog, with the first beginnings of darkness, with the cold. I found the snow divine, but perhaps even more beautiful, more divine, seemed the dark, wild warm storms of early spring. In the winter cold, the evening glistened and shimmered enchantingly." From Poetry


Reading Robert Walser also put me in mind of Italo Calvino’s Invisible Cities, especially Octavia, the spider-web city, a thin city, with its ropes and chain and catwalks bound to two mountain crests over the void. Take a look at the below three quotes, where Robert feels the wind sweeping along like the hope of youth and experiences everything moving; or nature as so soft and delicate; or he reads a book without words, a book of pictures where clouds float in bold simple lines. We can imagine Robert Walser returning to Octavia in the evening where he will climb a rope ladder to mediate on the shape of the stars from a hammock outside his house, a house made like a sack.

"The wind swept along like the hope of youth, like a new, never before felt confidence. Everything moved, the wash flapped and fluttered, the train smoke flew up and was lost. I, too, lost myself. It was as if I were enchanted, as if born anew, and full of delight I looked up at the morning sky where the sacred, golden clouds floated. Melting into splendor and bliss they dissolved, and then the sun came out, day was here." from The Morning.


"I stepped under the roof of a summerhouse that stands on the rocks. Everything green quickly became dripping wet. Down on the street a few people stood under the dense foliage of the chestnut trees as if under wide umbrellas. This looked so strange I don't recall ever having seen anything quite like it. Not a single raindrop pushed its way through the densely layered mass of leaves. The lake was in part blue, in part dark gray. Such a pleasant, stormy, sweet rustling in the air. Everything was so soft and delicate. I could have stood there for hours reveling in the world. But at last I went on my way." from On The Terrace


"This is a book without words, it tells its story in pictures, in fleetingly drawn sketches of a singular art and gracefulness; it contains a fine, understandable language, a tale filled with age-old suspense; it breaths with life, and when you turn its pages, the sorrow and bliss of nature step toward you entrancingly. The vast, sedate country life breathes its wind upon you. Wind and clouds blow and float in these bold and simple lines. Bushes blooming, country roads – and then the masterly pen compels the sun towards its natural, thought-provoking demise." from An ABC in Pictures by Max Liebermann.


"Then, as I lay there comfortably and languidly summer humming all around, there appeared from out of the sunny ocean-and-sky-bright bliss two eyes that looked on me with infinite kindness. I also clearly saw cheeks drawing nearer to my own as if they wanted to touch them, and a wonderfully beautiful, as if formed from pure sun, finely curved, voluptuous mouth came out of the reddish-blue air close to mind as if it wanted to touch my mouth as well. The firmament I saw through my eyes I had pressed closed was completely pink and hemmed by a splendid velvety black. I looked into a world of pure bliss. But then all of a sudden I stupidly opened my eyes, and the mouth and cheeks and eyes were gone and all at once I was robbed of the sky’s sweet kiss. What’s more, by then it was time to go back down to the city to business and my daily work." from Lunch Break

Reflecting on the above quote, perhaps this is one reason Robert Walser spent the last years of his life in a sanatorium – he could take his long walks in nature, lie down in the grass or lie down in the snow and never be obliged to open his eyes and return to work so as to be robbed of the sky’s sweet kiss. Fortunately for lovers of literature, he kept his eyes open enough during his lifetime to pen or pencil a string of highly imaginative first-rate fictions. Recognizing just how sensitive a man he was, we can begin to understand after a certain point he quite writing. As he told Carl Seelig, one of his great admirers, who payed visits to the sanatorium: “I am not here to write, but to be mad.”



"I am crowned with the most cheerful serenity. Yesterday I was like a snapped-off plant, while today I’m a sturdy tree. What illusions can do to us! Brain power, you’re weird! Now that this Nobel Prize business no longer weighs on me, how noble I seem. Yes, the world is gay and serious.” from The Nobel Prize. ( )
  GlennRussell | Feb 16, 2017 |
Odd. No, really odd. Really short essays, which might now be blog posts, but then (early 20th century) were published as little pieces in newspapers. Many of these little portraits of scenes, experiences, moods, and ideas have a sort of stream of consciousness feel to them, and others are just whimsical or weird (or both). There are some really beautiful passages – descriptions of lovely moments and images – and also some clever, funny bits. By turns ironic, understated, romantic, outrageous, Walser leaps, sometimes disconcertingly, from one thought to the next. Two and a half stars, generously rounded up (and despite the fact that two star essays predominated) because, as Walser reminds us, we need to be kind.

A couple samples from some of the better essays will give you the flavor...

The first essay, “A Morning,” is about an agonizingly long Monday morning, as experienced by a spectacularly reluctant bank employee (arriving at work, late, he is “totally be-Mondayed, his face pale and bewildered”)

”Eight thirty, Helbling pulls out his pocket watch to compare its face with the face of the big office clock. He sighs; only ten little, tiny, thin, delicate, spiky minutes have trickled past, and before him loom fat, indifferent hours. He tries to see if it's possible to grasp the idea that now he must work. The effort fails, but at least it's shifted the face of the clock a little. Five more dear, dainty minutes have slipped away. Helbling loves the minutes that have passed, but hates the ones still to come and those that appear unwilling to move forward. He would like to clobber each and every one of these lazy minutes. In his mind he beats the minute hand to death. The hour hand he doesn't dare look at, for he has good reason to fear that would make him faint.”

This, from “Autumn Afternoon,” is about a walk in the country.

”It's delightful to walk quietly and leisurely over the land and be greeted friendlily by solemn, sturdy country women. Such a greeting does one good, like the thought of immortality. A heaven opens when people are kind to one another. The afternoon and soon evening sun strew liquid love and fantasy gold over the road and it glowed reddish. On everything was a touch of violet, but only a delicate, barely visible tint...”

Finally, from “Toothache”...

”Finally I went to the dentist, that is, for the sake of sweet frugality, to a dental clinic, where I gladly handed myself over for purposes of study. My mouth was diligently examined by the hand of a young lady apprentice, and, after that the procedures began. I may say with some authority that I placidly endured a tremendous amount and accepted with considerable composure all sorts of things.

Much I patiently suffered, but from time to time I found it apt to utter a rather loud scream, which I did on purpose because by so doing I succeeded in causing the master to rush up and intervene, helping with his masterly skills, which for me was no insignificant relief. In such moments, of course, the young lady became annoyed with me; she thought it very naughty of me to emit such a forceful sound. I allowed myself to say I would be willing to scream even more often whenever unnecessary pain was inflicted upon me. It was not at all nice of me to speak like that, she responded. Gradually I came to have a fairly delightful intercourse with her, and once she had the idea to ask me what I was. I was a sort of writer, I said modestly. She called loudly into the dentist's room, “I've got a writer,” whereupon all the gentlemen and ladies, among them the master, came running up to engage in a cozy study of the peculiar patient...”

So. These are quirky, and there were quite a few I didn't enjoy, but if your library has this it's worth a look. ( )
1 vote meandmybooks | Dec 31, 2016 |
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Nome do autorFunçãoTipo de autorObra?Status
Robert Walserautor principaltodas as ediçõescalculado
Kongeter, NicoleTradutorautor secundáriotodas as ediçõesconfirmado
Whalen, TomTradutorautor secundáriotodas as ediçõesconfirmado
Wiesner, AnnetteTradutorautor secundáriotodas as ediçõesconfirmado

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Girlfriends, Ghosts, and Other Stories brings together eighty-one brief texts spanning Robert Walser's career, from pieces conceived amid his early triumphs to later works written at a psychiatric clinic in Bern. Many were published in the feuilleton sections of newspapers during Walser's life; others were jotted down on slips of paper and all but forgotten. Together they string together small nutshells of consciousness, idiosyncratic and vulnerable, genuine in their irony, wistful in their humor. The portraits and landscapes here are observed with tenderness and from a place of great anxiety. Some dwell on childish or transient topics-carousels, the latest hairstyles, an ekphrasis of the illustrations in a picture book-others on the grand themes of nature, art, and love. But they remain conversational, almost lighter than air. Every emotion ventured takes on the weight of a sincerity that is imperiled as soon as it comes into contact with the outside world, which retains all of the novelty it had in childhood-and all of the danger. Walser's speakers are attuned to the silent music of being; students of the ineffable and neighbors to madness, they are now exhilarated, now paralyzed by frequencies inaudible to less sensitive ears.

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