The Assistant – Robert Walser (Part 3)

Book: The Assistant – Robert Walser
Status: Read

I can safely say that after reading this book, I am going to explore more Robert Walser! What an underrated writer. Well, I hope these and the other quotes go a tiny way into being examples of why he should be better known!

“Worry matched in lock-step with disappointment, advancing like two exhausted but disciplined soldiers, not permitting themselves the slightest deviation.”

“At home, meanwhile, concern over the necessities of everyday life had begun to rap lightly at the windowpanes, to pluck at a curtain so as to gaze cosily into the Tobler family’s interior, and stand in the doorway to evoke for anyone who happened past a sense of uncertainty.”

“Tobler would have liked best to respond to this individual by inviting him to apply his lips to his posterior, preferably in the environs of Genoa, the fool; but reason dictated that he acknowledge this new demand for payment, unpleasant as it was, and he wrote to the man: ‘I am unable to pay you!’”

“How true it is that each of the four seasons has its own particular scent and sound. When you see spring, you always think you’ve never seen it like this before, never looking so special. In summer, the summery profusion strikes you as new and magical year after year. You never really looked at fall properly before, not until this year, and when winter arrives, the winter too is utterly new, quite quite different from a year or three ago. Indeed, even the years have their own individual personalities and aromas.”

“Your healthy mind should be and remain your ruler, do not antagonise it until it becomes a scoundrel and a fool.”

“Where will a summer like this ever again press me with its voluptuous green arms to its blossoming, fragrant bosom like the summer I had the privilege to experience and savour up here?”

“I’m sure you must be surprised to hear me speaking in such a way, but believe me, we women, who are constantly chained to the narrow confines and limitations of our households, do quite a lot of thinking about things, and we also see things and feel things. It is given to us to guess at things a little, since the correct sciences are our sworn enemies. We have a knack for reading glances and behaviour.”

Taken from ‘The Assistant’ by Robert Walser, Translated by Susan Bernofsky.
Available from Amazon UK:


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