The Walk by Robert Walser
Introduced by David Hughes, Hay Cinema Bookshop
Robert Walser’s flavouring is that of essaying a narrative, then perhaps commenting on his own process as he creates this blending of essay & story-telling. As he approaches a change in mood, so too does the text change with his ebb and flow. Walser has vibrantly pursued his own course & is easier on the minds-eye than perhaps Proust or Beckett. That his musing, changes of tone, come across well, suggests he has also met with favourable translators.
The collection of pieces within The Walk, are variably aged, differing shades & gleanings, story-essay-come-hither-glances of literature, as ever a delight to the eye and ear. The work entitled ‘The Walk’ is the longest ‘musing’ involved, & seems to be the back-bone of the book. The other prose-pieces are as ever an exquisite state of ‘Walserness’. Not unlike being a bit ‘Pessoan’ lapping up upon similar calming shores akin to Fernando Pessoa’s Book of Disquiet, a penchant for introversion. There is something of a conjoined summer to autumn in approach. Wistful, yet still capable of bursts of vivacity, he enjoys the drift of details beneath the surface of the banal. A suggestion of endings that scarcely arrive.
He implicitly confers an over-arching sense of writing without guile, without some sinister purpose, with nary a care for impressing the audience. It is doubtful that there could appear a turn of phrase that is inclined to garish overstatement or egoistic bravado. His natural instinctive meandering is given a stream to run it’s course, without a sense of pursuing well-riven channels. But he does still manage to impress upon the audience, with every sense described some semblance of substance or universal purpose. He appears to run his prose work like a mouse, a mouse in a maze, but a mouse that occasionally reminds us that he also made the maze. Walser is one of those writers who enjoys to remind the reader there are no walls.
Whereas many a travel tome may carry one away in terms solid, on the realistic wave, Walser’s perambulations don’t so much portray what happened as now re-live intimately those moments of the walk, the sojourn, the saunter, so thoroughly that he has re-enchanted himself. To such an extent, that we share with him the profound, tacit pleasure between the lines, of actually being there. Immediate. Present.
Unfettered by the passage of time. Not always an easy feat to accomplish in literature, let alone in travelogues of ego-driven worthy accomplishments. Crossing through his own fairy-ring, Walser is literally in a world of his own. Aren’t we all…