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Jakob von Gunten

3.98  ·  Rating details ·  3,510 ratings  ·  355 reviews
The Swiss writer Robert Walser is one of the quiet geniuses of twentieth-century literature. Largely self-taught and altogether indifferent to worldly success, Walser wrote a range of short stories, essays and four novels, of which Jakob von Gunten is widely recognized as the finest. It tells the story of a seventeen-year-old runaway from an old family who enrolls in a ...more
Paperback, 176 pages
Published 1999 by New York Review Books Classics (first published 1909)
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Apr 15, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Jakob von Gunten
Robert Walser

Jakob von Gunten dissects the remote and vulnerable regions of human brain, the dramatic tensions between the fluctuating demons of inner self and the savage realities of outer world carves out an enigmatic reality which pierces your heart and thrusts yourself through the crests and troughs of an assorted compendium of human emotions. Written during a period which transformed German fiction, when refined, compact elementary forms of prose were taking shape, when
As I was reading through Jakob von Gunten I wondered what genre it belonged to. Was it some kind of memoir? Was it a coming of age story? Was it a love story? Was it perhaps something totally new, a genre I'd never met before? Or was it rather something utterly ancient, as ancient as the stories of the Old Testament.

Ancient, yes, that was the predominant feeling I was left with at the end, though the writing has nothing biblical about it whatsoever being extremely lighthearted and jolly in tone
Oct 16, 2013 rated it it was ok
Shelves: fiction, swiss-lit

Imagine the school scenes from Gormenghast rewritten by Kafka and you'll have a good idea of the atmosphere of Jakob von Gunten, a short and stodgy philosophical fable of a very Germanic kind. It's easy to see why Kafka and Hesse were such fans; I wasn't quite so convinced, although I can understand why so many people love it.

The novel consists of a journal written by the title character, who has enrolled in a school for servants (based on Walser's own experience at a valet school in Berlin).
Oct 11, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: european-novels
Quite an oddity; it took me a while to decide whether I liked it or not; it’s quite abstract and the protagonist isn’t someone that I would immediately warm to. The novel is written in the first person. Jakob is from a good family, with money and possibly titled who decides to go to the big city (Berlin) and join a school for servants (much as Walser did) called the Benjamenta Institute. The only teaching members we meet are the Principal and his sister.
The book is in diary form and consists of
Mevsim Yenice
Oct 18, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Jakob ile tanıştığıma çok memnunum. Kolay kolay aklımdan çıkmayacak, hatta bazen bir rüya sonrası, bazen karmaşık düşüncelerle kendimi yıprattığım ve hemen ardından kendimi rahatlatmak için tüm varlığımı, iyilikleri, kötülükleri red edeceğim bir günün herhangi bir anında onu anımsayacağımı biliyorum.

Metin bana öyle garip ve gelgitli şeyler hissettirdi ki anlatması sahiden zor. Bambaşka metinlerin de içine attı farkında olmadan okurken. En güzel kısım da sanırım oydu. Jakob'un okuldaki
How does one begin to write even an on-the-fly review of such a novel, one that should be experienced as a series of deceptively simple vignettes in the young life of the titular character and be relished as Walser carries one along with Jakob's singular voice? Jakob von Gunten is also a difficult novel from which to quote given how the reader manages to catch small glimpses of how the narrative voice will develop and evolve, something that this reviewer would not wish to ruin for any future ...more
Bilal Y.
Jan 17, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Bayanlar baylar, eğer müsaade ederseniz, sizleri Jakob Von Gunten ile tanıştırmak istiyorum. Bir çocuk, bir öğrenci Jakob. Onun hakkında çok şey söylenebilir ama kısa keseceğim. İnsana ait çok şeyi kendinde barındırmış. Onun iyiliğini, kötülüğünü, tembelliğini, şımarıklığını, küstahlığını, kibrini uzun uzun anlatabilirim ama buna gerek yok. Bunun yerine onu ele veren kendi cümlelerinden bir kaçını ve onunla nasıl tanış olduğumuzdan bahsedeceğim.

Ondan ilk defa bahsedildiğini bana ayrıksı bir
Jan 30, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Jakob von Gunten è uno di quei libri la cui capacità di suggerire interpretazioni è infinita. è il romanzo preferito di Kafka, che lo leggeva ridendo di gusto ai suoi amici, e uno dei più misteriosi libri che abbia mai letto. la storia è quella di un giovane discendente di una famiglia aristocratica che arriva in un istituto dove si insegna l'umiltà e la sottomissione. solo chi riuscirà a sottomettersi nel maggior grado di purezza, a essere uno "zero rotondo come una palla" riuscirà ad adempiere ...more
Camille Stein
Sep 14, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Jakob von Gunten. Robert Walser

Jakob von Gunten / Robert Walser | Un libro cada día -

Siento que la vida exige emociones, no reflexiones.

Sí, sin duda existe en el mundo eso que llaman progreso, pero no es sino una de las numerosas mentiras divulgadas por los hombres de negocios para poderle exprimir dinero a la masa con mayor cinismo y desparpajo. La masa es el esclavo de nuestro tiempo, y el individuo, el esclavo de la grandiosa idea de masa. Ya no hay nada bello ni excelente. Lo bello, lo bueno y lo
Jaguar Kitap
May 19, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Yeni edisyonuyla çok yakında Jaguar'da...
Aug 19, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: those ready to be discomfited
I would wish it on no one to be me.
Only I am capable of bearing myself.
To know so much, to have seen so much, and
To say nothing, just about nothing.

Written by Robert Walser, as quoted by J.M. Coetzee in The Genius of Robert Walser


Those dates there at the top of this review tell me that I took an inexplicable two and a half weeks to read this novella of a mere 164 pages.

At the back of my edition I find a schematic overview of Walser's
Vit Babenco
Aug 12, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Jakob Von Gunten is a metaphor of learning in the school of life…
“We pupils all know, one as well as the next, that timidity is a punishable offence. Whoever stutters and shows fear is exposed to the scorn of our Fraulein, but we must be small, and we must know, know precisely, that we are nothing big. The law which commands, the discipline which compels, and the many unmerciful rules which give us a direction and give us good taste: that is the big thing, not us pupils. Well, everyone feels
Deniz Balcı
Oct 08, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: almanca-edebiyat
Çok garip bir roman 'Jakob von Gunten'. Okuru ters köşelerde döndürüp duran ironilerin dans ettiği bir anlatı. Karakterimiz Jakob'un kutsi amacında kendini gösteren bu ironi (yoksa ironi değil mi) bir süre sonra olayların akışına da sirayet ediyor. Hakkında bir şeyler söylemenin zor olduğu ama içinde bir sürü cümlenin özenle çizildiği ve saklandığı bir kitap olduğundan; kitabı anlatmak yerine -fikirsel bir metin istiyorsanız şayet- direkt okumanızı tavsiye ederim. Umarım seversiniz. Benim kafam ...more
Feb 05, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2013, keeper, dream-like
Chris Middleton does such a proficient job in my introduction honing in on the mysterium, journal element, and subtle ribbing tone of Jakob, that for a moment I think I am left with nothing to say. Luckily,I am not one to succumb to silence even in those circumstances : or, to be perfectly precise, I seem to always have something to say even when I don’t. For better or worse.

This entire novel, then, is a study of contrast, and undercurrent. Seeming levity of tone belies a violent clash of
Sep 22, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"Burada herkesin acelesi var, çünkü insanların aklı fikri çabalayıp bir şeylere ulaşmak üzere ilerlemenin ne kadar güzel olduğunda. Hayatın hızlı bir ritmi var. Yaralar derinleşiyor ve ağrılar ağırlaşıyor, çünkü burada sevinç her yerdekinden fazla ve uzun yaşanıyor."

Jaguar Kitap
Sep 06, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
jakob von gunten: hayata atılmak üzere olan bir genç. kendi seçimleriyle, kendi düşünceleriyle kendini kurmaya, kendine bir gelecek yaratmaya çalışıyor. sürekli gözlüyor, gözlemliyor, inceliyor, hayatın-insanın meselelerini önce farkediş tespit-teşhis, ardından soruna direnme ve mücadele, sonra kabullenme ve en son bu ikilemden kurtuluş olarak yeni bir söz söyleme çabası, yeni bir yol, yeni bir arayış. sürekli düşünüyor, düşünce üretiyor. düşünce ve hayal. düşüncelerinden, hayallerinden ...more
Feb 06, 2010 rated it it was ok
Shelves: spurned, nyrb
I really, really hated this book. Jakob von Gunten (the character) is the most dull, fey, irritating, and obtuse example of a first-person narrator I have yet encountered in my literary sojourns. I wanted to track him down and to bludgeon him to death.
Jack Tripper
Mar 13, 2017 rated it really liked it

Here's the cover of the 1983 Vintage Books trade paperback I have (154 pages). Full review to come.
Jan 17, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Franz Kafka amava molto le opere dello scrittore svizzero Robert Walser. Rideva di gusto quando le leggeva ad alta voce ai suoi amici. “Jakob von Gunten”, uscito nel 1909, era uno dei suoi romanzi preferiti. E’ un condensato di saggezza e ironia, un piccolo gioiello ricco di pensieri sull’inutilità di questi stessi pensieri. “A che servono a un uomo i pensieri e le idee, se ha la sensazione di non saper cosa farsene?”
L’enigmatico Jakob racconta in prima persona, in forma di diario, il suo
Feb 12, 2008 rated it it was amazing
I've been thinking a lot about institutions/institutional living lately due to having recently finished two books back-to-back where the primary action takes place in one. The other book being Leonora Carrington's The Hearing Trumpet which had a certain resonance with this book despite being significantly different. Neither has quite the traditional take on institutions, a word that, for me, tends to conjure up images of Jack Nicholson in One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest. Both books have an ...more
Mohammad Hrabal
والزر نویسندهی محبوب کافکا، هسه و توخولسکی بوده است. من نتوانستم خیلی با کتابش ارتباط برقرار کنم و لذت ببرم.
بین ما انسانهای مدرن و مغرور و درب و داغان هم بردههای زیادی وجود دارد. شاید هم همهی ما انسانهای امروزی چیزی مثل بردهها هستیم؛ تحت انقیاد یک اندیشهی جهانی عصبی و خشن که تازیانهاش را در هوا تکان میدهد. ص 96 کتاب
حس میکنم این چیزی که اسمش را دنیا گذاشتهاند، ربطش به من چقدر کم است و آنچه که من نامش را دنیا میگذارم،
Aug 01, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: europea
“Ubbidiamo senza riflettere”

(1909)- Jacob Von Gunten è un giovane di nobili origini che scappa di casa e si iscrivere all'Istituto Benjamenta, una scuola preparatoria per domestici.

”Qui s’impara ben poco, c’è mancanza di insegnanti, e noi ragazzi dell’Istituto Benjamenta non riusciremo a nulla, in altre parole, nella nostra vita futura saremo tutti qualcosa di molto piccolo e subordinato. L’insegnamento che ci viene impartito consiste sostanzialmente nell'inculcarci pazienza e ubbidienza: due
Nickolas the Kid
Η ιστορία ενός κοινωνικού επαναστάτη, του Γιάκομπ Φον Γκούντεν, ο οποίος αποφασίζει να "απαρνηθεί" την ευγενική του καταγωγή και τα πλούτη του και να εγγραφεί στο Ινστιτούτο Μπενζαμέντα. Ένα Ινστιτούτο με περίεργους οικότροφους αλλά και ακόμα πιο περίεργους καθηγητές και ιδιοκτήτες.
Εκεί όντας μαθητευόμενος θα αναθεωρήσει κάποιες από τις βασικές του αρχές αλλά και παράλληλα θα βυθιστεί σε έναν περίεργο κόσμο όπου το όνειρο μπλέκεται με την πραγματικότητα....

Σε πρώτο πρόσωπο η γραφή του Βάλζερ
May 06, 2008 rated it it was amazing
heeded a thankfully persistent whisper of walser walser walser and fell hard. i'd heard the gossipy parts: how kafka dug him, how he lived his final years in a madhouse, how he died on a long walk in the snow, how he wrote in a pencilled hand so small that people thought it was a secret code but it wasn't--it was just very very small.

i'd tried THE ASSISTANT, which is recently translated but earlier walser and could see the charm, but i was prejudiced against how its proto-modern style took too
Stephen P
When I see a painting in a gallery or museum I avoid at all costs the name of the artist until I have experienced and been impacted by the work itself. It is a task in self discipline not to peek at the plate where the artist’s name is engraved waiting to create swathes of widening black bordered edges, its brushed strokes leaving my preconceived ideas, my self imposed biases, concerning the artist, the genre, the…the…shrinking and distorting of the painting out of its context, paling beyond ...more
Jan 30, 2014 rated it liked it
One day I shall be laid low by a stroke, and then everything, all these confusions, this longing, this unknowing, all this, the gratitude and ingratitude, this telling lies and self-deception, this thinking that one knows and yet never knowing anything, will come to an end. But I want to live, no matter what.

(I am numb towards this novel. Such is presently immune to interpretation. Okay I checked: no response)

Walser's novel exudes a refined decadence. There are echoes of uproar and decay along
Nov 10, 2016 added it
Shelves: swiss, nyrb-classics
I liked the subtle sarcasm and clever wordplay in this novel, things I myself like to trot out, although likely without the attendant adjectives. Walser's eponymous narrator has left home (we don't know why) and has enrolled himself in a school for servants. He writes of his days there in a kind of diary. Jakob engages in some leg-pulling with the principal, the instructress and at least one of his fellow students. He is probably pulling the reader's leg too, with sleight of hand sentences like ...more
Jan 02, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Αυτή είναι η πρώτη μου επαφή με τον Robert Walser, και τα αισθήματα είναι εν πολλοίς θετικά. Μπορεί 20 χρόνια πριν να είχα ενθουσιαστεί, πλέον όμως οι απαιτήσεις μου έχουν αντιστοίχως…ωριμάσει. Ταυτόχρονα, το hype γύρω από τις σύγχρονες εκδόσεις (ακόμα και συγγραφέων της εποχής πριν τον 2ο Παγκόσμιο, που έχουν και κάποια αξία για μένα), με αφήνει…καχύποπτο (όπως όλα τελικά!).
Το "Γιάκομπ φον Γκούντεν" είναι ένα ενδιαφέρον στυλιστικά βιβλίο, με πολύ καλές στιγμές, ποιητική πρόζα, και αναλαμπές
Oct 12, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
No es la primera vez que la literatura de Walser fue profética para él mismo, en "Los hermanos Tanner" narró su propia muerte. También aquí encontraremos otro ejemplo de ello.

Si es verdad lo que se cuenta de él, parece que fue el propio Robert Walser quien pidió su internamiento en el manicomio de Waldau para escapar del mundo y con la esperanza de enloquecer del todo y para siempre. Pues bien, Jakob Von Gunten, tras romper las ataduras familiares, ingresa libremente en el Instituto Benjamenta
Neli Krasimirova
Oct 19, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: don-quixote, fiction
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NYRB Classics: Jakob von Gunten, by Robert Walser 1 20 Oct 23, 2013 02:17PM  

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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 ...more
“That is all very senseless, but this senselessness has a pretty mouth, and it smiles.” 144 likes
“One is always half mad when one is shy of people.” 70 likes
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