Susan Bernofsky—Clairvoyant of the Small: The Life of Robert Walser

May, 27 2021

Susan Bernofsky—Clairvoyant of the Small: The Life of Robert Walser

Susan Bernofsky with Christine Burgin, Maira Kalman, Josiah McElheny, and Amy Sillman—moderated by Carin Kuoni.

Presented by 192 Books and Paula Cooper Gallery, this live event will be streamed directly on PCG Studio. There is no login or rsvp required.

Clairvoyant of the Small: The Life of Robert Walser

The great Swiss-German modernist author Robert Walser lived eccentrically on the fringes of society, shocking his Berlin friends by enrolling in butler school and later developing an urban-nomad lifestyle in the Swiss capital, Bern, before checking himself into a psychiatric clinic. A connoisseur of power differentials, his pronounced interest in everything inconspicuous and modest—social outcasts and artists as well as the impoverished, marginalized, and forgotten—prompted W. G. Sebald to dub him “a clairvoyant of the small.” His revolutionary use of short prose forms won him the admiration of Franz Kafka, Walter Benjamin, Robert Musil, and many others.

He was long believed an outsider by conviction, but Susan Bernofsky presents a more nuanced view in this immaculately researched and beautifully written biography. Setting Walser in the context of early twentieth century European history, she provides illuminating analysis of his extraordinary life and work, bearing witness to his “extreme artistic delight.”