‘Autumn Afternoon’ by Robert Walser, translated by Tom Whalen, with Nicole Köngeter and Annette Wiesner

Robert Walser described his stories as ‘shortish or longish chapters of a novel. The novel I am constantly writing is always the same one, and it might be described as a variously sliced up or torn-apart book of myself.’ Autofiction, then. In ‘Autumn Afternoon’, the narrator goes for a walk through a hyperreally voluptuous countryside. Read in hindsight – it was written in 1914; Walser was diagnosed with schizophrenia and suffered from hallucinations; his dead body was found in a field – it is almost unbearable.

First published in English in Girlfriends, Ghosts and Other Stories, NYRB, 2016. Read online here

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