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The Robber

4.15 of 5 stars 4.15  ·  rating details  ·  197 ratings  ·  29 reviews
The Robber, Robert Walser’s last novel, tells the story of a dreamer on a journey of self-discovery. It is a hybrid of love story, tragedy, and farce, with a protagonist who sweet-talks teaspoons, flirts with important politicians, plays maidservant to young boys, and uses a passerby’s mouth as an ashtray. Walser’s novel spoofs the stiff-upper-lipped European petit bourgeo ...more
Hardcover, 141 pages
Published March 1st 2000 by University of Nebraska Press (first published 1925)
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Eddie Watkins
The Robber is a guidebook for disappearance, an endlessly tangential map of the transient ghostliness of the ever-elusive self written by a gentleman who has politely bid farewell and stepped outside of his person. It is a precious hoot. It is a picaresque series of tiptoes around a goblin-infested forest. It is a shared narcissistic prism. It is a suite of rapid motions that spins in place. It is a needling delight, a frustrating pleasure.

Dear Walser pulled out of thin air a labyrinth construc
'Robber' Walser has released his sentences like free-range chickens and upon this novel they roam every-which-way, free at last, free at last! they proclaim, which just sounds like BOKBOK! BOKBOK! insignificant noodling noises from abreast mountaintops of hay. Barely existing, they peck at the ground for miniscule specks of worm-or-seed-like protein, each one stuck like a needle in a brain that has only one trajectory, a glimmer that a second ago had been some other glimmer entirely. Chickenfeet ...more
If you are fond of pleasure postponed, of insertions, digressions, concealment—and who is not?—this maze will amaze you.

- William H. Gass
Gass's comments about Walser's The Robber are spot-on: the novel is certainly a maze, "an unsolvable riddle" as Walser describes the Robber's beloved Edith's lips. The last novel that Walser wrote, The Robber was long left untranslated because it was found in its microscript form, a miniaturized version of Kurrent script which Walser used for his manuscripts
Ben Winch
Ah, The Robber. What a pleasure it was when this came out - to hold it, to read it, to anticipate Walser's ascension in the Anglo world on the basis of it. At the risk of writing one of those reviews that are more about the reviewer than the ostensible subject, I'll set the scene. 2006, winter. My wife and I had just broken up (the last time) and I'd left our house in Melbourne to drive to my dad's place in northern New South Wales, taking my time and camping along the way, living out the back o ...more
M. Sarki

"...He gave such a vulnerable impression. He resembled the leaf that a little boy strikes down from its branch with a stick, because its singularity makes it conspicuous."___Robert Walser from THE ROBBER

The Robber by Robert Walser is one of the most difficult books I have ever read. It wasn't until the last fifty pages that my reading speed accelerated. By the time I was finished I had already ordered two more books written by Walser and was searching for
I've just started, but I'm already enamored. It's bewildering and hilarious. Style and content have never been so indistinct from one another. The tone is bright and crystalline and the writing has a roller coaster flow that changes from exhilarated to introspective and from vapid to profound with each sentence.
this is probably, no, truly, the most insane post-modern book ever written. It was written in micro-script (with a fat, unsharpened pencil so the myth goes) while he was in a mental hospital (but i don't think he was really crazy - just depressed). It took decades for scholars to figure out the writing. I'm glad someone worked on this and translated it into English. However, this is the most difficult read ever. I swear it goes from First-person narrative switching to third-person omniscient, th ...more
David S. T.
This is only my second Walser (the first being Jakob von Gunten, which I remember scenes from Institute Benjementa more than the book itself) and I completely loved it. It leaves me in this mood to get and read all of his available books. This book took me longer to read then many books twice its size, the author often diverges to other topics only later to return to the original (and sometimes he never comes back). I had to pay close attention to the topic or the shifts and I had to reread seve ...more
Guttersnipe Das
Robert Walser's last novel, The Robber, was found after his death, written on 24 sheets of paper, in a script so minute and indecipherable that it was thought for some time to be a code, or else a symptom of the schizophrenia with which Walser had been misdiagnosed.

Although Walser died in 1956, having spent the last 26 years of his life in mental asylums --where he was reported to be "perfectly lucid and ready to converse on a wide variety of literary and political topics" -- this novel was not
Ce roman met en scène un homme, le brigand, qui se comporte de façon un peu marginale, en décalage avec les gens dits « moyens ». Il gêne un peu et est jugé par les autres principalement à cause de sa relative excentricité et du fait que les gens ne parviennent pas à le cerner ou le dominer. Il est notamment en prise avec plusieurs femmes au cours de ce récit (effectué par un tiers qui se dit son ami). Le ton du roman est nettement différent de celui des précédents, plus confus aussi selon moi : ...more
Is it our calling to understand each other, or are we not, rather, called upon to misjudge one another, to prevent there being a surfeit of happiness and to ensure that happiness continues to be valued, and that these circumstances result in novels, which could not possibly exist if we all knew each other for what we are?

The Robber - Robert "The Man" Walser

It is a difficult read with changes of perspective , lengthy tangents , detailed descriptions of mundane things and characters who are never

With his slim novel The Robber, Robert Walser reached the pinnacle of his experiments in portraying a certain type of character in his fiction. To assign this type a single defining term, such as flâneur, dreamer, drifter, or perhaps lost soul, reduces the scale of Walser’s literary accomplishments. For this character, fine-tuned over the course of four novels (those extant of the author’s self-reported nine completed) and countless of his “little prose pieces,” is far too complex and ever-chang
A new favorite book...digressive, playful, masterful, bobbing and weaving like Kafka and Sterne sat down to write a novel together. You should read it.
There is so much difference b/t this book and Walser's other novels: you can tell it's still him, but it's like he's lost his ability to hold the whole book in focus, and just works in smalle and smaller sections, and edits himself less. Super-interesting and still a must-read, but not as absolutely magnificent as his other (translated) books.

One of my favorite bits of the book: "In those days, you had the sweetest little nose in the whole city. We do hope you’ve retained this charming item. Br
This is Walser at his strangest and best. A topsy-turvy bit of writing. I don't think it's possible to read book and not chuckle out loud and feel as if Walser is spinning you on some sort of mad carousel.

One of many favorite quotes:

"I have quite horrifying stockpiles of amorous potential, and every time I go out on the street, I immediately start falling in love with something or someone, and am thus widely thought to have no character, which I humbly request you to laugh at a little."
I am always suprised when someone tells me that Walser's writing is peculiar or even bizarre, because, in fact, it is not. Nearly all german-speaking Swiss people sound like Walser when they speak or write High German (the whole thing sounds odd in English translation, though).

Anyway, the reason I cannot properly enjoy this book, as stupid as it sounds, is simply because der Räuber is too Swiss. I've a feeling Walser could have written it after taking a few strolls through my neighbourhood.
Diarmid Sullivan
It has its moments of brilliance
Jun 16, 2009 Taylor rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone
This book is challenging to read. It is Modernist fiction, which I haven't read much of. Although hard to follow there is something satisfying about reading the twists and turns in the writing and the plot. I really love this writer. I read and reread many passages because they were so interesting and beautiful.
Robert Walser is a magician; I could read this book again and again and I'd never be able to summarize it. The book is almost unquotable! Like a good conversation, recollections and anecdotes come rolling through the narration with an easy charm, half-forgetting its destination along the way.
I now address an appeal to the healthy: don't persist in reading nothing but healthy books, acquaint yourself also with so-called pathological literature, from which you may derive considerable edification. Healthy people should always, so to speak, take certain risks.
Jul 13, 2010 Julie rated it 2 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Julie by:
Difficult to read - so many digressions. Amazing to think it was written on scraps of paper,in tiny script between lines of other lines of text; then this edition was translated. His reputation from previous works must have been tremendous.
I have read it more than twice, in it's original language in German. This book is one of my favourites. The imagination of composing the main figure of the book as a reader together with the author is very flattering.
Víctor Sampayo
Realmente un libro extraño, con ese humor irónico y melancólico que caracteriza a Walser, aunque se supone que lo dejó en estado de borrador, sin las revisiones que habrían hecho de él una obra maestra.
Beautiful, hilarious, strange, in places disturbing, sui generis --and almost lost forever, having been written in "microscript" during Walser's long decades confined to an insane asylum.
If my reading wasn't so fragmented I probably would have given this five stars. Glimpses into Walser's mind are rare, rare treats.
Se ne consiglia la lettura ai signori di genere maschile in genere, si da il caso sia il caso di conoscere certe Edith..
Guillermo Jiménez
Siempre me quedará la duda de si este orden final de la novela es el que debió ser, algo así como con las novelas de Kafka.
Demands a lot of a attention, but totally worth it.
This book is insane.
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Robert Walser, a German-Swiss prose writer and novelist, enjoyed high repute among a select group of authors and critics in Berlin early in his career, only to become nearly forgotten by the time he committed himself to the Waldau mental clinic in Bern in January 1929. Since his death in 1956, however, Walser has been recognized as German Switzerland's leading author of the first half of the twent ...more
More about Robert Walser...
Jakob von Gunten Selected Stories The Tanners The Assistant Berlin Stories

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“I've thought of myself a girl on several occasions because I like to polish shoes and find household tasks amusing. There was once even a time when I insisted on mending a torn suit with my own hands. And in winter I always light the heating stoves myself, as though this were the natural course of things. But of course I'm not a real girl. Please give me a moment to consider all this would entail. The first thing that comes to mind is the question of whether I might possibly be a girl has never, never, not for a single moment, troubled me, rattled my bourgeois composure or made me unhappy. An absolutely by no means unhappy person stands before you, I'd like to put quite special emphasis on this, for I have never experienced sexual torment or distress, for I was never at a loss for quite simple methods of freeing myself from pressures. A rather curious, that is to say, important discovery for me was that it filled me with the most delightful gaiety to imagine myself someone's servant.... My nature, then, merely inclines me to treat people well, to be helpful and so forth. Not long ago I carried with flabbergasting zeal a shopping bag full of new potatoes for a petit bourgeoise. She's have been perfectly able to tote it herself. Now my situation is this: my particular nature also sometimes seeks, I've discovered, a mother, a teacher, that is, to express myself better, an unapproachable entity, a sort of goddess. At times I find the goddess in an instant, whereas at others it takes time before I'm able to imagine her, that is, find her bright, bountiful figure and sense her power. And to achieve a moment of human happiness, I must always first think up a story containing an encounter between myself and another person, whereby I am always the subordinate, obedient, sacrificing, scrutinized, and chaperoned party. There's more to it, of course, quite a lot, but this still sheds light on a few things. Many conclude it must be terribly easy to carry out a course of treatment, as it were, upon my person, but they're all gravely mistaken. For, the moment anyone seems ready to start lording and lecturing it over me, something within me begins to laugh, to jeer, and then, of course, respect is out of the question, and within the apparently worthless individual arises a superior one whom I never expel when he appears in me....” 5 likes
“...He gave such a vulnerable impression. He resembled the leaf that a little boy strikes down from its branch with a stick, because its singularity makes it conspicuous.” 3 likes
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