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Robert Walser


Robert Walser was born in 1878 in Biel in the canton of Bern, the seventh of eight children. Though he wrote in German, Biel was near the French-speaking part of Switzerland and he spoke French as well as German. His father was a merchant. Walser had to leave school when he was fourteen and went to work as a bank clerk. He then moved first to Basel and then to Stuttgart, where his brother Karl lived, and continued his wanderings throughout his life. His next stop was Zurich where he worked as an office clerk.

His first published writings were poetry but he soon started writing short stories and then novels. His writing was admired by writers such as Kafka, Hesse and Musil. During World War I he had to carry out military service on several occasions. At this time, one brother was admitted to a mental hospital, while, in 1919, another killed himself. Meanwhile, Walser was struggling to make ends meet and soon started to have mental issues. He wrote a lot at this time but little was accepted for publication. He admitted himself to a mental hospital and though he continued writing, he stayed there for the rest of his life. He enjoyed long walks and, on one of those on Christmas Day 1956, he had a heart attack and died. His reputation post-mortem has increased enormously and he is now recognised as one of the foremost twentieth century European writers.

Books about Robert Walser

Susan Bernofsky: Clairvoyant of the Small: The Life of Robert Walser

Other sites

Robert Walser
Robert Walser
An Introduction to Robert Walser
Still Small Voice. The fiction of Robert Walser
The Hands of Robert Walser
The Genius of Robert Walser
The Many Deaths of Robert Walser
Robert Walser’s Disappearing Acts
Robert Walser Zentrum (English and German)
Traces of Robert Walser 1 (book covers)
Traces of Robert Walser 2 (photos)
Robert Walser (in German)
Leben und literarisches Werk von Robert Walser (in German)
Robert Walser Auswahlbibliographie (bibliography – in German)


1904 Fritz Kochers Aufsätze
1907 Geschwister Tanner (The Tanners)
1908 Der Gehülfe (The Assistant)
1909 Jakob von Gunten (Jakob von Gunten)
1909 Gedichte,
1913 Aufsätze
1914 Geschichten
1914 Kleine Dichtungen
1916 Prosastücke
1917 Der Spaziergang (The Walk)
1917 Kleine Prosa
1917 Poetenleben
1919 Komödie,
1920 Seeland
1925 Die Rose
1925 Der Räuber (The Robber)
1937 Große kleine Welt,
1944 Vom Glück des Unglücks und der Armut
1944 Stille Freuden,
1947 Dichterbildnisse
1950 Die Schlacht bei Sempach: Eine Geschichte
1953–1961 Dichtungen in Prosa, 5 Bände
1958 Unbekannte Gedichte
1973 Der Spaziergang, Prosastücke und Kleine Prosa
1978 Lektüre für Minuten
1979 Robert Walser – Briefe
1980 An die Heimat
1985 Bedenkliche Geschichten, Prosa aus der Berliner Zeit 1906–1912
1985 Träumen, Prosa aus der Bieler Zeit 1913–1920
1985 Robert Walser Rediscovered: Stories, Fairy-Tale Plays, & Critical Response Including the Anti-Fairy Tales, Cinderella & Snow White
1986 Die Gedichte
1986 Komödie, Märchenspiele und szenische Dichtung
1986 Wenn Schwache sich für stark halten, Prosa aus der Berner Zeit 1921–1925
1986 Zarte Zeilen, Prosa aus der Berner Zeit 1926
1986 Es war einmal, Prosa aus der Berner Zeit 1927–1928
1986 Für die Katz, Prosa aus der Berner Zeit 1928–1933
1985 Aus dem Bleistiftgebiet Band 1. Mikrogramme 1924/25
1985 Aus dem Bleistiftgebiet Band 2. Mikrogramme 1924/25
1986 Aus dem Bleistiftgebiet Band 3, Räuber-Roman, Felix-Szenen
1990 Aus dem Bleistiftgebiet Band 4. Mikrogramme 1926/27
1990 Masquerade and Other Stories
1994 Der roman, woran ich weiter und weiter schreibe: ich-buch der Berner jahre
2000 Aus dem Bleistiftgebiet Band 5. Mikrogramme 1925/33
2000 Aus dem Bleistiftgebiet Band 6. Mikrogramme 1925/33
2002 Unsere Stadt, Texte über Biel
2002 Selected Stories
2003 Feuer, Unbekannte Prosa und Gedichte
2003 Einer, der nichts merkte
2005 Speaking To The Rose: Writings, 1912-1932
2007 Tiefer Winter, Geschichten von der Weihnacht und vom Schneien
2010 Microscripts
2011 Mikrogramme
2011 Im Bureau
2012 Berlin Stories
2012 Oppressive Light: Selected Poems by Robert Walser
2013 A Schoolboy’s Diary
2014 Der kleine Tierpark
2015 Looking at Pictures
2016 Girlfriends, Ghosts and Other Stories
2021 Little Snow Landscape (stories)
2022 Comedies
2022 The Poems
2023 My Heart Has So Many Flaws (poetry)