Krasznahorkai on Valser

In the current LRB. Also see Martin Riker on Mircea Cartarescu.

My name is Róbert Valzer and I like walking, not that I have anything to do with the famous Robert Walser, nor do I think it strange that walking should be my favourite hobby. I call it a hobby but I accept – or rather I am prepared to entertain the fact – that where I live in this Central European country I am considered to be too unstable to be regarded as a normal person and that my hobby is not to be compared with other people’s hobbies. It is not a hobby, they claim, but a symptom of instability. That’s the word they use: instability. But they never tell me that to my face. They whisper it behind my back. That’s what they are constantly whispering: I can hear them perfectly clearly – there goes Valzer, he’s off again.

But they are wrong even on this level because it’s not a case of going off again. I am always on the go, a walk not being the kind of thing to set off on, then stop, then start again, not in the least, because I have been walking as long as I can remember, having set off once a very long time ago and gone on walking ever since, which means I will go on because I can’t stop, because it is impossible to stop, walking being a passion with me, and what is more in my case, a passionate form of curiosity, not a matter of madness but of passionate curiosity, though the people whispering behind my back never ask what is this Róbert Valzer chap up to, what in God’s name does he think he is doing continually walking everywhere, no, they never get round to asking that question nor ever will, though the whole point is to know why one is walking, the answer to which, if I may repeat myself, is that it is a matter of curiosity walking as I do, for example right now on the Day of the Dead, because the Day of the Dead is something that greatly interests me. Every Day of the Dead is different from the one before and I wouldn’t miss any Day of the Dead – why would I miss it, given I was interested in it?


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