Robert Walser

In the Office - Scenes from the Life of a Clerk

Selected and with an afterword by Reto Sorg and Lucas Marco Gisi
(German title: Im Bureau)
ca. 144 pages
Robert Walser
Foto: Robert Walser

Robert Walser was born in Biel/Bienne in Switzerland in 1878 and died on a solitary walk in the snow on Christmas Day, 1956, near the Herisau sanitarium.


»A Paul Klee in prose, a good-humored, sweet Beckett, Walser is a truly wonderful, heartbreaking writer. In Walser’s fictions one is always inside a head, but this universe – and this despar – is anything but solipsistic. It is charged with compassion: awareness of the creatureliness of life, of the fellowship of sadness« Susan Sontag

»Was Walser a great writer? If one is reluctant to call him great, said Canetti, that is only because nothing could be more alien to him than greatness.« J. M. Coetzee

»Robert Walser moves me more and more […] He is truthful without making a frontal attack on the truth, he becomes truth by walking around it.« Elias Canetti

»Be an Outsider! Be a Hero! Be Robert Walser!« Thomas Hirschhorn

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English world rights (New Directions), Spanish World Rights (Siruela), Italy (Adelphi), Bulgaria (Funtasy)

Domestic rights sales: German Audiobook (Diogenes)


Like the office satires of Melville, Gogol, or Kafka, Robert Walser’s short stories about office clerks, collected here for the first time, offer a similarly illuminating and exhilarating light on the working world.

The ways of the office inform our life from A to Z. When the young Robert Walser began to write around 1900 things were still very different. He found »office life« as a bank apprentice to be an irritatingly new experience. It appeared to him to be the essence of a meaningless life determined by others. At the same time, it was the very place where the fantasies and dreams with which the poet appropriated reality were set.

Other publications

Der Spaziergang/The Walk (1917)

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English rights (USA: New Directions, UK: Serpent’s Tail), Spanish world rights (Siruela), Catalan rights (El Flâneur), Chinese simplex rights (Shanghai Translation – published, rights reverted), Russia (pre-publication serial rights: Inostrannaja Literatura; volume rights: Ad Marginem), Brazilian Portuguese rights (Editora 34), France (Gallimard), Italy (Adelphi), Netherlands (Lebowski/Dutch Media Group), Denmark (Batzer), Norway (Bokvennen – published, rights reverted), Finnland (Teos), Czech Republic (Opus), Slovakia (Premedia), Hungary (Magvetö – published, rights reverted), Bulgaria (Critique & Humanism), Romania (Univers – published, rights reverted), Estonia (Tänapäev – published, rights reverted), Greece (Gavrilidis), Kosovo / Albanian rights (Pa), Ukraine (Meridian Czernowitz Literature Foundation), Belorussia (Logvinau), Georgia (Ibis), Armenia (Antares)

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Jakob von Gunten/Jakob von Gunten (1909)

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Domestic Rights Sales: German Audiobook (DAV)

Der Gehülfe/The Assistant (1908)

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Geschwister Tanner/The Tanners (1907)

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