One has just been sent out as a biblical dove, has found nothing green, and slips back
into the darkness of the ark -- Kafka

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Robert Walser: "A Biedermeier Story"

Excluding the exceptional "The Walk," Walser's stories in this collection are just a few pages long. "A Biedermeier Story" is less than two pages. The amazing thing is how much he slips into less than two pages (typically with a salute or nod to the Absurd).

The ending:
   The maid, true, though this emphasis is only incidental, had a habit of eating Schabziger, as they call it, a variety of herb cheese. More and more difficult did it become for him to kiss her on the lips. He once took the risk of indicating disapproval thereof; she begrudged him this.
   With a nobly casual air as befitted his rank as a war lord, General Gorchakov, who only comes into this sketch of mine for local color, commanded his armies.
   Once the housemaid had performed her tasks, instead of going out for a walk, which certainly would have done her no harm, she went to her room, sat down at the table, and started to write.
   If it was letters she wrote that reached her lover safely every time, perhaps the window was open and a sparrow, or chaffinch, would be fluttering on the sill.
   All the songs of singing birds heard by people such a long, long time ago!

Note: On the term "Biedermeier" see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Biedermeier
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