Christine Burgin series

Walser vaulted new heights of expression with miniscule means.

The Boston Globe

Now in a gorgeous new paperback edition with full-color illustrations by Maira Kalman, Microscripts is a one-of-a-kind masterpiece.


by Robert Walser

Translated from German by Susan Bernofsky

With a contribution by Walter Benjamin

A Chirstine Burgin co-publication Now in paperback, with newly translated, additional microscripts and full-color paintings by Maira Kalman.

Robert Walser wrote many of his manuscripts in a highly enigmatic, shrunken-down form. These narrow strips of paper (many of them written during his hospitalization in the Waldau sanatorium) covered with tiny ant-like markings only a millimeter or two high, came to light only after the author’s death in 1956. At first considered a secret code, the microscripts were eventually discovered to be a radically miniaturized form of a Germanic script: a whole story could fit on the back of a business card. Selected from the six-volume German transcriptions from the original microscripts, these twenty-five short pieces are gathered in this gorgeously illustrated co-publication with the Christine Burgin Gallery. Each microscript is reproduced in full color in its original form: the detached cover of a trashy crime novel, a disappointing letter, a receipt of payment. Sometimes Walser used the pages of small tear-off calendars (but only after cutting them lengthwise and filling up each half with text). Schnapps, rotten husbands, small town life, the radio, pigs (and how none of us can deny being one), jealousy, Van Gogh and marriage proposals are some of Walser’s subjects. These texts take strength from Walser’s motto: “To be small and to stay small.”

Paperback(published Nov, 21 2012)

Price US
Trim Size
6 x 9
Page Count

Clothbound(published Nov, 21 2012)

Portrait of Robert Walser

Robert Walser

Early twentieth-century Swiss novelist

Walser vaulted new heights of expression with miniscule means.

The Boston Globe

Walser vaulted new heights of expression with miniscule means.

The Boston Globe

Walser has in recent years regained some of the status he enjoyed in the 1920s. Instead of Kafka and Benjamin, we have Sebald and Lydia Davis championing him. But we still don’t know where we stand with him. Are we dealing with pure literature,the vagaries of the everyday, jokes, or empty fancies? The writing is radical and elegant enough to encompass all these possibilities and many more. Is it the stuff of life? Perhaps.

The Times Literary Supplement

Walser’s project is mirrored and echoed by modernity’s general obsession with interiority and exploring new forms of subjectivity. We should understand Walser’s poetics of smallness as being as grandiose as anything that modernity has produced.

The Quarterly Conversation

A clairvoyant of the small.

W.G. Sebald

The incredible shrinking writer is a major twentieth-century prose artist who, for all that the modern world seems to have passed him by, fulfills the modern criterion: he sounds like nobody else.

Benjamin Kunkel, The New Yorker