Fairy Tales (Paperback)


By Robert Walser, Daniele Pantano (Translated by), James Reidel (Translated by), Reto Sorg (Preface by)

New Directions, 9780811223980, 128pp.

Publication Date: April 20, 2015

List Price: 14.95*
* Individual store prices may vary.


Three mini-plays by the German wunderkind and asylum-dweller.

Fairy Tales gathers the unconventional verse dramolettes of the Swiss writer Robert Walser. Narrated in Walser's inimitable, playful language, these theatrical pieces overturn traditional notions of the fairy tale, transforming the Brothers Grimm into metatheater, even metareflections.

Snow White forgives the evil queen for trying to kill her, Cinderella doubts her prince and enjoys being hated by her evil stepsisters; the Fairy Tale itself is a character who encourages her to stay within the confines of the story. Sleeping Beauty, the royal family, and its retainers are not happy about being woken from their sleep by an absurd, unpretentious, Walser-like hero. Mary and Joseph are taken aback by what lies in store for their baby Jesus.

About the Author

Robert Walser (1878–1956) was born in Switzerland. He left school at fourteen and led a wandering and precarious existence working as a bank clerk, a butler in a castle, and an inventor's assistant while producing essays, stories, and novels. In 1933 he abandoned writing and entered a sanatorium—where he remained for the rest of his life. "I am not here to write," Walser said, "but to be mad."

DANIELE PANTANO (born February 10, 1976) is a poet, literary translator, editor, and scholar.

JAMES REIDEL is a poet, translator, editor, and biographer.

RETO SORG is the Director of the Robert Walser Centre in Bern. 

Praise For Fairy Tales: Dramolettes

One of the most profound creations and one that is enough on its own to explain why the most powerful of all writers was a favorite author of the merciless Franz Kafka.
— Walter Benjamin

A Paul Klee in prose—as delicate, as shy, as haunted. A cross between Stevie Smith and Beckett.
— Susan Sontag

If he had a hundred thousand readers, the world would be a better place.
— Hermann Hesse