Born 1878 in Switzerland, Robert Walser was at various times in his life a bank teller, office clerk, scribe, house servant, machinist's assistant, and archivist. Although he wrote four novels and some poetry, his production consisted mainly of hundreds of small prose pieces. Being small was a key concern. His writing got smaller and smaller until, before he ceased writing altogether, he wrote a tiny script with letters about one millimeter high. By this time he had committed himself to a sanitarium where he remained for 27 years, mostly not writing. Always an avid taker of walks, Walser died in a snowdrift while out for a walk in 1956.
Christopher Middleton (1926-2015) was born in Truro, Cornwall. He studied at Merton College, Oxford and then taught at the University of Zürich, at King's College, London, and finally as Professor of Germanic Languages at the University of Texas, Austin. He published translations of Robert Walser, Nietzsche, Hölderlin, Goethe and many contemporaries, receiving several awards, including the Geoffrey Faber Memorial Prize and the Schegel-Tieck Translation Prize. His poems, essays and selected translations are all published in the UK by Carcanet Press; his poems are published in the USA by Sheep Meadow Press, with assorted prose volumes appearing from Green Integer and the University of New Mexico Press. His later recent publications included: Nobody's Ezekiel (Hopewell Press, 2015), Collected Later Poems (Carcanet, 2014), Loose Cannons: Selected Prose (University of New Mexico Press, 2014); Collected Poems (Carcanet, 2008), Crypto-Topographia (prose, Enitharmon Press, London, 2002), The Word Pavilion and Selected Poems (Carcanet & Sheep Meadow Press, 2001), Jackdaw Jiving: Selected Essays on Poetry and Translation (Carcanet, 1998), Faint Harps and Silver Voices: Selected Translations (Carcanet, 2000).
Tom Whalen is a novelist, short story writer, poet, and critic who has written for AGNI, Bookforum, Film Quarterly, The Iowa Review, The Quarterly, the Washington Post and other publications. Co-editor of the Robert Walser Number of The Review of Contemporary Fiction, he has translated and written extensively on Walser's work. He teaches film at the State Academy of Art and Design in Stuttgart, Germany, and American Studies at the universities of Freiburg and Bamberg.
Susan Bernofsky is the acclaimed translator of Hermann Hesse, Robert Walser, and Jenny Erpenbeck, and the recipient of many awards, including the Helen and Kurt Wolff Prize and the Hermann Hesse Translation Prize. She teaches literary translation at Columbia University and lives in New York.