Born in Switzerland in 1878, Robert Walser worked as a bank clerk, a butler in a castle and an inventor's assistant while beginning what was to become a prodigious literary career. Walser produced as many as seven novels and more than a thousand short stories and prose pieces. Though he enjoyed limited popular success during his lifetime, his contemporary admirers included Franz Kafka, Hermann Hesse, Robert Musil and Walter Benjamin. Today he is acknowledged as one of the most important and original literary voices of the twentieth century, his work the subject of essays by W.G. Sebald, J.M. Coetzee, William Gass and Susan Sontag.