3 June 2013 A Meeting Devoted to Walser’s Mikrogramy
Ha!art publishing house would like to invite you to Czuły Barbarzyńca bookshop cum café (ul. Powiśle 11) to a meeting devoted to Robert Walser’s Mikrogramy [Aus dem Bleistiftgebiet. Mikrogramme]! A discussion on this exceptional book from the author of Jakob von Gunten will be participated by Grzegorz Jankowicz and Andrzej Serafin, while Michał Sowiński will be the host.
Mikrogramy is a collection of some of Robert Walser’s last literary pieces. They were written in the late 1920s, just before the author’s nervous breakdown which ended up in his life-time confinement in a mental asylum.
Robert Walser, just like the character from his debut novel, Geschwisfter Tanner, did many jobs in his life and never stayed in one place for a long time. Most often, he occupied the lowest clerk posts where he copied documents. The pen-pusher’s job influenced his personality forever. Copying and calligraphing documents – a completely imitative and alienating job gave him a sense of peace and content. He repeatedly boasted in his automation, which he transferred onto his works, thus executing one of the most important postulates of modern literature. However, at the end of his literary activity, he experienced a crisis – the literary machinery which allowed him to create literature somehow beyond himself got stuck. Letters, which he calligraphed with pleasure all his life, refused to flow any more. In one of his letters, he described it as ‘fatigue of the hand’. He started to create completely different texts, as a form of therapy – he filled scraps of paper (tickets, bills etc.) with minute writing in pen, which was believed to be illegible for many years. It was not until Jochen Greven, Bernhard Echte and Wernera Morlang’s enormous work led to ‘deciphering’ Walser’s notes. It appeared that they were not coded in any way by the author, they were only written in a particular style of German handwriting called Kurrent, which is characterised by simplified letters, which, in combination with font size (1 millimetre), made Walser’s text almost impossible to read. Mikrogramy is a collection of these unusual pieces, which crown the literary oeuvre of one of the most important modern writers.