February 6, 2012
"Meanwhile you have rolled yourself a cigarette, say, and inserted it with great care between your well-practiced lips. With such an apparatus in your mouth, it is impossible to feel utterly without cheer, even if your soul happens to be torn in twain by sufferings. But is this the case? Most certainly not. Just wanted to give a quick description of the magic that a smoking white object of this sort is capable of working, year in and year out, on the human psyche. And what next?"

“In the Electric Tram” by Robert Walser at the NYRblog, an excerpt from the recently released Berlin Stories, translated by Susan Bernofsky

Find NYRB Classics on Tumblr here.

(Bonus: Bernofsky also translated Walser’s novel The Tanners, published by New Directions.)

Like I said on the twitter, some literary genealogist needs to trace the line from Nicholson Baker back to Walser. They’re both so cheery! (At least in Berlin Stories, which I’m reading now.)

(Source: fwriction, via hmhlit)

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