Robert Walser: Jakob von Gunten Ein Tagebuch

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Here s the cover of the 1983 Vintage Books trade paperback I have 154 pages Full review to come 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 eft with nothing to say LuckilyI 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 A Day Away levity of tone belies a violent clash of dichotomousife forces starting from Jakob himself who embodies a relentless pursuit of experiences an outward momentum which accelerates unchecked couples with a seemingly dissonant imperative of repressing the same dulling and uashing all sense data and finishing with the non too subtle juxtaposition between uotidian and otherworldly in place names eg the monotonous and heterogenous atmosphere of the Benjamenta Institute for servants vs the sumptuous mysterious world of the inner chambers And everything in between Which in this case is a uintessential nothing Jakob having no plot and unencumbered with background details presents as an albedo scene sparce on props against which the klieglight carves out in microscopic details the dynamics of Memoir of a Misfit life through a narrative of character studyJakob is a duality juxtaposed in bilateral relations with other characters where yet another geodesic poses duality this time in the pair off between Jakob and another character Thus are the scenes in this novel enacted in a seuence of Siameseinks between Jakob and AN Other Jakob and Kraus Jakob and hisbrother Jakob and Herr Benjamenta Jakob and fraulein Benjamenta a rotational pairing of opposites diametrically opposed Throughout this Jakob is by no means a constant a uintessential everyman he subtly adapts to each pairings idiosyncrasies to fulfil the role of subservient or Looking for the Toffees lord it Thus in the unholy triefecta between the Cocteau an siblings and himself he slithers between sub and dom with remarkable dexterityWalser explores coupledom thus as a techniue to illustrate the multiayers of the human condition each pairing speaks to Raising Gods Girl life s permutations whether friendshipove homoerotic ove duty or even death Each relationship is a refractory thread which opens up a new window of waltenshuung How does this feel Like the universe has been stretched out from pole to pole wrenched out of its non euclydic slumber and prostrated belly up on the examining table for the mother of all post mortems If there is mysterium it is unabashedly eviscerated and the contents strewn out for our gaze no ess mysterious but a hell of a The Beckoning Lady (Albert Campion lot accessible How is this done Through torrents of undercurrents Nothing but nothing is explicit yet the accretion of seuence after seuence creates a cumulative atmosphere of uninhibited wondrousness and marble cakeayers of richness potent in sensuality and promises 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 Will in the World literary sojourns I wanted to track him down and to bludgeon him to death I would wish it on no one to be meOnly I am capable of bearing myselfTo know so much to have seen so much andTo say nothing just about nothingWritten by Robert Walser as uoted by JM Coetz Jakob Von Gunten is a metaphor ofearning in the school of June Fourth Elegies 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 Theaw 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 this even I do that we are small poor dependent dwarfs obliged to be continuously obedient Jakob aspires to be a servant To me for instance wearing a uniform is very pleasant because I never did know before what clothes to put on But in this too I am a mystery to myself for the time being Perhaps there is a very very commonplace person inside me But perhaps I have aristocratic blood in my veins I don t know But one thing I do know for certain in Baby and Child Vegetarian Recipes laterife I shall be a charming utterly spherical zero As an old man I shall have to serve young and confident and badly educated ruffians or I shall be a beggar or I shall perish But he also wishes to be rich When I see candles burning I always feel that I am wealthy And he dreams of vices Then Virtue came in a female figure of overwhelming beauty for anyone not frozen rigid and weeping I took her on my knee and fooled around with her When I had robbed her of her unspeakable treasure the Ideal I chased her out with derision Jakob Von Gunten is an allegory of The Confabulist living aife uite an oddity it took me a while to decide whether I iked it or not it s uite 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 sisterThe book is in diary form and consists of Jakob s reflections and his philosophy and also something of the philosophy of being a servant and being invisible with appropriate humility Jakob is highly self critical sometimes irritatingly so and there were times I was reminded of Uriah Heep Walser s influences are not easy to pin down His intensely self critical nature has been compared to Rousseau in the Confessions and to a Dostoyevskian character One of his translators has argued that Jakob has some similarities to characters in German folk tales Brothers Grimm the hero who braves the castle and wins the day against the odds But victory is bittersweet because at the end Jakob is still back in the real world Kafka was a fan and it is easy to see why and to see shades of The Castle in particular Jakob s odd combination of humility and arrogance and his philosophy sometimes feel unsettling and contradictory there are clear Nietzschean references and yet Walser is also analysing the middle classbourgeois psyche which will have such an influence on German history in the early twentieth century The elevation of the banal and the ultimate discovery by Jakob that at the heart it is all holl. «Auí se aprende muy poco falta personal docente y nosotros os muchachos del Instituto Benjamenta jamás legaremos a nada es decir ue el día de mañana seremos todos gente muy modesta y subordinada La enseñanza ue nos imparten consiste básicamente en inculcarnos paciencia y obediencia dos cualidades ue prometen escaso o ningún éxito Éxitos.

(Jakob von Gunten Ein Tagebuch  Gratis) Autor Robert Walser –

Lse image of myself to people for whom I have made a place in my heartThus for example I imagine that it would be unspeakably ovely to die with the terrible knowledge that I have offended whomsoever I Spring Comes to Sanctuary (Welcome to Sanctuary, love the most and have filled them with bad opinions of me Nobody will understand that or only someone who can sense tremblings of beauty in defiance Those tremblings of beauty in defiance reminded me of the biblical story of Lucifer before the Fall whose heart according to Ezekiel wasifted up because of thy beauty but who had become corrupted by reason of thy brightness I imagined Jacob as a Ask the Past latter day Lucifer shining very brightly among his duller fellows But unlike Lucifer he succeeds in seducing the Father figure of his world completley and causes him toose his bearings so that instead of rejecting Jacob and casting him out he casts out all the good pupilsangels instead even the rule abiding and very fundamentalist Archangel KrausSo the story made me think about what the JudeoChristianIslamic world would be ike if we d never had a Lucifer figure to demonise and if the deity had presented itself as just as human and weak as the rest of usImageview spoilerWilliam Blake s Lucifer before the Fall hide spoiler Jakob von GuntenRobert 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 prose was becoming analytic Jakob von Gunten could be said as an exemplary achievement in that sense in fact could be named an analytic solilouy The prose of Robert Walser has got something very primal in nature it reveals the naivete of an expressionist artists whose solilouy unites the gleam of imagination and reality Jakob an ambiguous creature has noble faith in simple ideas but the idea of God deludes him A pedantic didactic sanctimonious upstart Jakob strangely combines arrogance and humility an un sleeping accurate dreamer who banters drowsing map of his routine activities The book consists of his reflections on the education he receives in the school an education in humility The humility taught by the Benjamentas is not of the religious variety Their graduates aspire to be serving men or butlers not saints Jakob is not ike other pupils his consciousness forbids him to surrender himself to the follies carried out in Benjamenta for him the Silver Stirrups (Saddle Club, lessons in humility have a deep personal resonance Oneearns very Different Class little here observes young Jakob von Gunten after his first day at the Benjamenta Institute where he has enrolled himself as a student The teachersie around Short Stories by Roald Dahl like dead men There is only one textbook What is the Aim of Benjamenta s Boys School and only oneesson How Should a Boy Behave All the teaching is done by Fr ulein Lisa Benjamenta sister of the principal Herr Benjamenta himself sits in his office and counts his money Goldilocks the Three Bears like an ogre in a fairy tale In fact the school is a bit of a swindle Walser s design of improvisation assumes its impression on Jakob s sensibility his passion for surprise paradoxes remains in a constant flux of fact and fantasy The bourgeois runaway from eliteifestyle wants to become zero to start from all the way down As suggested by Sartre in Being and Nothingess one has to get rid of his projections to reach to the core of being where from the true existence of a person emanatesThough Walser and Jakob has much in common but the book can t be mistaken for a self portrait Jakob von Gunten could be said as a new creation if not then its parody for sure in the German wave of blending self and nobility German Idealism to venture social and cultural reforms He is highly self critical perhaps to the extent of Dostoyevsky s character in The Underground Man and Confessions of Rousseau One may get awestruck to note the discretion with which the pomposity of maturity and intellectualism are annihilated but without savageness It would not be appropriate to keep Walser in the breath of iterature in which we put Kafka Sartre Nietzsche and others since Walser has not been an intellectual author once it was said for him that he is comic Kafka Jakob says I value the way in which I open a door The generations of men osing the joy of Socialist Realism life with all their treatises and understandings and knowledgeIike running down stairs What a I Look Up To... Michelle Obama lot of talk The prose is an escapade built around idea of tales full of surprise adventure and paradoxes probably a mischievous blocking of dramatic thrust also a parody of epic breath Walser s prose is a dance rather than a walk through words small dialogue nuances in Jakob s monologues vibrate back and forth The use of different vocabulary for different characters creates a distinct effect which seems to form vivid experience of nonrepresentational art Kraus s vocabulary embodies an impression which seems to shape out his character of humility servitudeKraus to Jakob You you ve got yourself pregnant with silly ideas What a notion Do something Work then you won t notice anything You snooper Snooping around for opinions and thoughts Go away I m beginning to hate the sight of you The reader constantly finds him herself in an ever churning vortex of reality and imagination you sometimes wonder whether Jakob himself is disturbing the holy brane of space and time to carve out something which can be taken for reality or it s one of his fantastical follies emanating from the profundity of his brain When he arrives in Benjamenta he gets fascinated with the idea that there is a mystery at the heart of the institute the mystery which when one traverses through the deep cervices of it may introduce oneself to the elementary realities ofife But once Jakob penetrates in to the conundrum he finds a mere goldfish however an initiation seeds an enchantment before this perhaps in Jakob s mental space if not in physical space The book demands constant attention of the reader for sometimes it may occur as highly condensed interior monologue and during other it may simple be a mystical tale created out of contradiction and juxtaposition of words It s not Doctor Extraño like those creations of art which you mayike or dislike instantly in entirety One may get caught up with a strange feeling of irresoluteness about the book it may take time to sink in. Ran protagonista de esta «historia singularmente delicada» según un juicio de Walter Benjamin es el propio Instituto Benjamenta el alumno Jakob a través de su diario nos introduce en todos sus secretos en sus dramas y peueñas tragedias y en todos sus misterios convirtiéndolo en uno de os escenarios más memorables de a iteratura del siglo

Ow and meaningless the mysterious inner chambers are not all they seem neither are the Benjamenta sThe foreshadowing of Nazism in characters ike Kraus is startling as is the amused tolerance of those in authority there is a Feminism is for Everybody level of madness about it but it is so simple at times amusing but also sad given Walser sater descent into madness Pretty much nothing happens on the surface but Jakob has a hard time Deterring Democracy living with himself Aater poem by Walser sums it up I would wish it on no one to be meOnly I am capable of bearing myselfTo know so much to have seen so much andTo say nothing just about nothing 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 Comet in Moominland (The Moomins, 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 whic Imagine the school scenes from Gormenghast rewritten by Kafka and youl 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 uite so convinced although I can understand why so many people ove itThe 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 The Benjamenta Institute is a closed world with its own bizarre rules a remote Principal a mysterious Instructress it s all dusty classrooms and intimations of impending disaster In this constrained setting Jakob conducts his own explorations of the interior world probing his mind examining his relationships with other people and recording everything in a breathless childlike narrativeThe microcosmic environment and the introspective narrator combine to produce a sort of parable about the importance of fully immersing yourself in everyday existenceI pay attention and that makes ife beautiful for if we don t have to pay attention there really is no Menneskefluene (K2 lifeHowever this theme doesn t come without a certain nativist anti intellectual strain that I found aittle disingenuous however appealing Jakob hates the kind of person who pretends he understands everything and beamingly parades knowledge and wit what he Nazi Gold likes is simplicity people who simply do without analysing This is an awkward message for a writer to pull off because a writer is precisely someone who reflects on and analyses their experiences And indeed for Jakob writers are just windbags who only want to study make pictures and observations Toive is what matters then the observation happens of its own accord Of course Jakob himself has to embody exactly what he says he hates otherwise he wouldn t be able to narrate a book So he s intelligent and thoughtful but he s not happy about itI despise my capacity for thinking I value only experiences and these as a rule are uite independent of all thinking and comparing Thus I value the way in which I open a door There is hidden Mr Majeika and the School Inspector life in opening a door than in asking a uestionA really beautiful phrase but the idea behind it though attractive with aittle reflection seems obviously wrong I say obviously because if it were true there would be no need to write books Selected Poems like this in the first place If this book has any value at all then that value can only be conveyed through means that the book itself disparagesIt has to be said as well that Christopher Middleton s translation in the NYRB edition seems rather heavy handed and well infelicitous at times We have sentences such as Schachtikes to offend against the rules and I to be candid unfortunately no ess which can only go through your head in a thick German accent Oops I mean Swiss On the other hand Middleton s introduction reads a bit awkwardly too so maybe that s just the way he speaksWalser once said God is the opposite of Rodin I don t know what he meant but I ike it and I didn t want to end this review without mentioning it somewhere This book is similarly cryptic provocative and anti artistic I wouldn t recommend it exactly but if I saw you reading it in Starbucks I d nod sagely and offer to buy you another pumpkin Doctor Strange, Vol. 2 latte 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 aove 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 eft with at the end though the writing has nothing biblical about it whatsoever being extremely ighthearted and jolly in tone which is one of the many paradoxes of this short novel In fact Jacob the narrator speaks constantly in paradoxes he tells of a school where no The Train Robbers learning takes place and of a feared principal who is really rather meek Jacob sees beauty in the oddest of places even in the idiosyncrasies of headboy Kraus I doike people who get angry Kraus gets angry on the slightest pretext That is so beautiful so noble The sinner must always be faced with the person outraged or else something would be missing The mumbling of a grumbler is No Reason To Die lovelier to me than the murmuring of a woodland stream Jacob expounds on the virtues of compliance to rules in one breath while telling us that heoves running on the stairs in the next To be supposed not to do something is so alluring sometimes that one can t help doing it Therefore I Naked Risk (Shatterproof love so deeply every compulsion because it allows me to take joy in what is illicit If there were no commandments no duties in the world I would die starve be crippled by boredom I provoke the frowningaw to anger a ittle afterwards I make the effort to pacify it Although it was written than one hundred years ago each word each sentence in this slim book has the freshness of new snow though perhaps new snow on which a happy dog has eft a yellow stain because Jacob s sparkling words are always sprinkled with Ellie (Ellie, little ironies Sly and knowing people are to me an unspeakable abomination How nice Peter is in precisely this point His being tall so tall that he could crack in two is good but even better is the goodness of heart which keeps whispering to him that he is a cavalier and has theooks of a noble rake The entire book is a parade of seeming contradictions Nothing can excite me so deeply as the sight and smell of what is good and just Jacob tells us before revealing that nothing pleases me than to give a completely fa. Interiores eso sí Pero ¿ué ventaja se obtiene de ellos ¿A uién dan de comer Dear Office-Politics las conuistas interiores» Así empieza Jakob von Guntena tercera novela de Robert Walser Thomas Harriott la más amada por el autor pero tambiéna más discutida e innovadora escrita en 1909 en Berlín tres años después de haber dejado el Instituto donde se había educado Y el

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