Текстове на Мария Каро, Бети Файон и Мария Добревска.

Microscripts, Robert Walser

translation by Maria Dobrevska, Critique and...

translation by Maria Dobrevska, Critique and Humanism Publishing House 2020

 

translator’s note

When I translated Walser’s short, often unfinished stories and imagined how this writing had happened – in old cryptic handwriting, in pencil, with almost a millimeter of small letters, on a sheet of newspaper, from a letter, from an invitation, from an old book and, according to legend, collected in a shoebox in the bottom of a closet, I involuntarily remembered a story of my husband’s childhood.

He was three or four years old when he was left home alone with orders to feed the silkworms. In his home village on the Greek-Bulgarian border, they kept their silkworms under a shed; the silkworms lay on long wooden shelves like bookshelves and the little boy could not see them.  The silkworms began to feed and only then did he feel their presence. As he told this story, my husband’s face lit up, his lips resembling the crunching of the silkworms, which seemed to enter his head, humming there, as if the invisible were growing, coarsening, creating threads, creating his story of a little boy.

That’s exactly how cocooned the words in Walser’s microscripts seemed to me. It was impossible to convey this feeling in translation. At first glance they were exactly the same words as in the dictionary, but when I reached for it I had the strange feeling that these were not Walser’s words, that he was experiencing them as different, and also that this was perhaps his way of making them come alive. I couldn’t go further than the intuitive sense that I was witnessing an artistic (shamanic) performance of habituation, of listening to stories. I even tried writing myself in pencil and in Walser-like very small letters on the back of a computer-written clerical text, and felt a particular liberation of an artist who seems to be writing a letter next to the text itself.  If dreams are letters to oneself, I thought, then Walser wants to write like a dream. Invisible. A story has not yet been born, and Walser hears only its rustling. “Surely this is an extraordinary, at any case so far unprinted story,” he writes at the end of one of the micros.

I like to imagine that he could have written an entire book out of each little story of invisible threads. And that he liked to imagine, too, hearing the shrunken souls of the stories. Perhaps Walser’s true stories can be heard with some indefinable sense if we just let them rustle in our heads… like dreams shortly after waking.

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