Poetry News

Susan Bernofksy on Robert Walser and "The Literary In-Between"

By Harriet Staff

Susan Bernofsky, noted author and German-language translator--she just recently translated Uljana Wolf's poetic abecedarium False Friends; and is well-known for bringing Robert Walser to great and greater attention, having translated The Assistant, The Tanners and Microscripts--was recently interviewed by Colin Marshall for a show called The Marketplace of Ideas, broadcast on Santa Barbara's KCSB (it's also available to download or can be streamed here). As Bernofsky mentions on her blog, they primarily talked about Walser, "with an interlude in which we discussed Yoko Tawada, Kobo Abe and the uses of literary hybridity." She also discussed the nature of the "in-between":

I think the in-between is a great place to actually open your eyes and see something. When you’re hovering between two spheres of reference, the very geography of your condition forces you to actually see where you are. I think so much of our everyday lives is so unmindful and involves not noticing things and not seeing things and not understanding what’s around us. I love literature that puts me in the position of asking me to actually see what it is I do when I speak, when I understand something, when I hear another person, when I think that I’m communicating with another person and hearing them talking to me. I think being made conscious of these things and how miraculous it is that we have languages we can use to communicate with each other – how great is that! I think there’s so much we take for granted that literature written in these in-between spaces invites us to notice and appreciate. For me there’s a lot of joy there.

Originally Published: June 28th, 2011