Author Info: Robert Walser
About: 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 twentieth century, perhaps Switzerland's single significant modernist. In his homeland he has served as an emboldening exemplar and a national classic during the unparalleled expansion of German-Swiss literature of the last two generations.
Walser's writing is characterized by its linguistic sophistication and animation. His work exhibits several sets of tensions or contrasts: between a classic modernist devotion to art and a ceaseless questioning of the moral legitimacy and practical utility of art; between a spirited exuberance in style and texture and recurrent reflective melancholy; between the disparate claims of nature and culture; and between democratic respect for divergence in individuals and elitist reaction to the values of the mass culture and standardization of the industrial age.