Carl Seelig: Wanderungen mit Robert Walser

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© Michael Loeken
None
© Michael Loeken

Every now and then I read in Carl Seelig's Wanderungen mit Robert Walser. I like the ritual of meeting from time to time with a friend, or shall I say a kindred spirit, to discuss fundamental matters without losing sight of the everyday or perhaps even the ›banal‹. The publicist, publisher and patron of the arts made numerous walks in eastern Switzerland with the Swiss writer Robert Walser from 1937 to 1955. Until the end of his life, Robert Walser was forcibly detained in the psychiatric cantonal institution in Herisau. He died at Christmas in 1956 on a hike that he had undertaken alone this time.

I adore Robert Walser. In the descriptions of the wanderings, the modesty of a great, albeit silenced writer, but also subversive thinking that was inherent in him, becomes clear. The simple was for him a fund from which his literature was nourished; he never lost sight of it. ›Everyday things are beautiful and rich enough to be able to create poetic sparks from them.‹ And he always had an eye for the beautiful, even in situations that could silence you or bring you close to tears. Even in the last years of his life, which were marked by endless tragedy. Hubris was alien to him, modesty, directness, doubt, humor and passion made up his greatness. An attitude that he never abandoned at the price of success. He remained true to himself. That is why I adore him.

Robert Walser and Carl Seelig delve into all of this on their hikes, sometimes cheerfully, sometimes grumpily or dejectedly, then again interrupted by long silences. From time to time, I take the book in my hand and join them on their hike. Then I am touched and impressed and also thrilled or amused. His apt and charming descriptions of the literary and artistic world.  His indulgence in the contemplation of the landscape. His comments on the political events of the time. And last but not least, his detailed descriptions of resting at inns with sumptuous meals.

Michael Loeken, 23 June 23 2021