Translating Robert Walser

Translating Robert Walser Roundtable discussion with translators and literary scholars of Swiss author Robert Walser.

Event Details


swissnex San Francisco
730 Montgomery St., San Francisco, 94111 United States


April 04, 2013 from 5:30 pm to 8:30 pm America/Los Angeles (UTC-07:00)

During his lifetime, the Swiss author Robert Walser (1878-1956) lived and wrote at the margins of society. Today, all his major works are available in English translation and enjoy increasing popularity. In recent years, several new texts by Walser have been translated into English or were published in new editions. This provides a perfect opportunity to reflect on the relevance of Walser’s work and biography in America’s literary and intellectual culture.

In this roundtable discussion, moderated by distinguished UC Berkeley Professor Winfried Kudszus, prominent translators and literary scholars Susan Bernofsky and Mark Harman deliver insights into their work. They talk about the challenges of translating Walser’s texts into English and the significance of Walser as a precursor of literary modernism.

This event is part of the international conference Robert Walser: Intersections of Life and Literature, Art and Psychiatry, taking place on the UC Berkeley campus.


6:30 pm  doors open
7:00 pm  panel discussion
8:30 pm  reception and networking
9:30 pm  doors close


Susan Bernofsky

Susan Bernofsky is one of the best-known translators of literary work in German into English. She translated Robert Walser’s distinguished novels The Robber (2000), The Assistant (2007), The Tanners (2009), and also a selection of his “Microscripts” (2010). Her translation of the Berlin Stories was published in 2012. She is also the author of a great number of articles on Robert Walser and teaches at Columbia University. For her translation of Herman Hesse’s Siddhartha, Susan Bernofsky was awarded the Hermann-Hesse-Preis 2012.

Mark Harman

Mark Harman is well-known as the English translator of Franz Kafka’s novels. He also translated Robert Walser into English and edited the eminent volume Robert Walser Rediscovered (1985). His translation of Rainer Maria Rilke’s Letters to a Young Poet was published in 2011. Harman is also author of a great number of articles on Franz Kafka and Robert Walser and is Professor for English Literature at Elizabethtown College, Pennsylvania. For his translation of Franz Kafka’s The Castle, Mark Harman was distinguished with the Lois Roth Award.

Winfried Kudszus

Moderator Winfried Kudszus is Professor in the Department of German at the University of California, Berkeley. He is a specialist in the relation between schizophrenia and literature. He is also the editor of Literatur und Schizophrenie (1977) and Psychopathologische und psychoanalytische Literaturinterpretation (1981), and published several articles on Robert Walser, amongst others Walser’s Silence (1985).

This event is sponsored by: the Department of German at the University of California, Berkeley, and the Consulate General of Switzerland in San Francisco, in cooperation with the Robert Walser-Zentrum Bern, Goethe-Institute San Francisco, swissnex San Francisco, and the Center for the Art of Translation.



Photo: Myleen Hollero

Event Photos