The Assistant (New Directions Paperbook)

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9780811215909: The Assistant (New Directions Paperbook)

The Assistant by Robert Walser―who was admired greatly by Kafka, Musil, Walter Benjamin, and W. G. Sebald―is now presented in English for the very first time.

Robert Walser is an overwhelmingly original author with many ardent fans: J.M. Coetzee ("dazzling"), Guy Davenport ("a very special kind of whimsical-serious-deep writer"), and Hermann Hesse ("If he had a hundred thousand readers, the world would be a better place"). Charged with compassion, and an utterly unique radiance of vision, Walser is as Susan Sontag exclaimed "a truly wonderful, heart-breaking writer."

The Assistant is his breathtaking 1908 novel, translated by award-winning translator Susan Bernofsky. Joseph, hired to become an inventor's new assistant, arrives one rainy Monday morning at Technical Engineer Karl Tobler's splendid hilltop villa: he is at once pleased and terribly worried, a state soon followed by even stickier psychological complexities. He enjoys the beautiful view over Lake Zurich, in the company of the proud wife, Frau Tobler, and the delicious savory meals. But does he deserve any of these pleasures? The Assistant chronicles Joseph's inner life of cascading emotions as he attempts, both frantically and light-heartedly, to help the Tobler household, even as it slides toward financial ruin. Tobler demands of Joseph, "Do you have your wits about you?!" And Joseph's wits are in fact all around him, trembling like leaves in the breeze―he is full of exuberance and despair, all the raptures and panics of a person "drowning in obedience."

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About the Author:

Robert Walser (1878–1956) was born in Switzerland. He left school at fourteen and led a wandering and precarious existence working as a bank clerk, a butler in a castle, and an inventor's assistant while producing essays, stories, and novels. In 1933 he abandoned writing and entered a sanatorium―where he remained for the rest of his life. "I am not here to write," Walser said, "but to be mad."

From Booklist:

Though Walser, a Swiss, was an important early modernist, this translation by the award-winning Bernofsky is apparently this novel's first printing in English. And although the language reflects its 1908 publication date, its tone feels strikingly contemporary, like something that could have been written by Colson Whitehead. Joseph Marti is a marginally employable young clerk who goes to work for Karl Tobler, a marginally talented inventor who's living the good life on a dwindling inheritance. Tobler's Advertising Clock and Marksman's Vending Machine fail to lure investors, and Marti soon becomes skilled at the ritual language of creditor evasion. Of course, Marti isn't paid either, but he is so alienated from himself that any indignation at his own treatment is smothered by feelings of his own unworthiness to live in such a fine home. (Tobler's hilltop villa, the Evening Star, is of course a sinking ship.) Modern readers may lack the context to fully appreciate Walser's intent—Is he satirizing bourgeois aspiration? An economy unmoored from practicality?—but its absurdities and psychological insights are enjoyable nonetheless. Graff, Keir

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Book Description New Directions Publishing Corporation, United States, 2007. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Language: English . Brand New Book. The Assistant is his breathtaking 1908 novel, translated by award-winning translator Susan Bernofsky. Joseph, hired to become an inventor s new assistant, arrives one rainy Monday morning at Technical Engineer Karl Tobler s splendid hilltop villa: he is at once pleased and terribly worried, a state soon followed by even stickier psychological complexities. He enjoys the beautiful view over Lake Zurich, in the company of the proud wife, Frau Tobler, and the delicious savory meals. But does he deserve any of these pleasures? The Assistant chronicles Joseph s inner life of cascading emotions as he attempts, both frantically and light-heartedly, to help the Tobler household, even as it slides toward financial ruin. Tobler demands of Joseph, Do you have your wits about you?! And Joseph s wits are in fact all around him, trembling like leaves in the breeze--he is full of exuberance and despair, all the raptures and panics of a person drowning in obedience. Bookseller Inventory # AAS9780811215909

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Book Description New Directions Publishing Corporation, United States, 2007. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Language: English . Brand New Book. The Assistant is his breathtaking 1908 novel, translated by award-winning translator Susan Bernofsky. Joseph, hired to become an inventor s new assistant, arrives one rainy Monday morning at Technical Engineer Karl Tobler s splendid hilltop villa: he is at once pleased and terribly worried, a state soon followed by even stickier psychological complexities. He enjoys the beautiful view over Lake Zurich, in the company of the proud wife, Frau Tobler, and the delicious savory meals. But does he deserve any of these pleasures? The Assistant chronicles Joseph s inner life of cascading emotions as he attempts, both frantically and light-heartedly, to help the Tobler household, even as it slides toward financial ruin. Tobler demands of Joseph, Do you have your wits about you?! And Joseph s wits are in fact all around him, trembling like leaves in the breeze--he is full of exuberance and despair, all the raptures and panics of a person drowning in obedience. Bookseller Inventory # AAS9780811215909

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Book Description New Directions Publishing Corporation, United States, 2007. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Language: English . This book usually ship within 10-15 business days and we will endeavor to dispatch orders quicker than this where possible. Brand New Book. The Assistant is his breathtaking 1908 novel, translated by award-winning translator Susan Bernofsky. Joseph, hired to become an inventor s new assistant, arrives one rainy Monday morning at Technical Engineer Karl Tobler s splendid hilltop villa: he is at once pleased and terribly worried, a state soon followed by even stickier psychological complexities. He enjoys the beautiful view over Lake Zurich, in the company of the proud wife, Frau Tobler, and the delicious savory meals. But does he deserve any of these pleasures? The Assistant chronicles Joseph s inner life of cascading emotions as he attempts, both frantically and light-heartedly, to help the Tobler household, even as it slides toward financial ruin. Tobler demands of Joseph, Do you have your wits about you?! And Joseph s wits are in fact all around him, trembling like leaves in the breeze--he is full of exuberance and despair, all the raptures and panics of a person drowning in obedience. Bookseller Inventory # BTE9780811215909

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