Martin Walser was born in 1927 in Wasserburg and now lives in Überlingen by Lake Constance. He is among Germany’s most important literary authors and has received numerous awards for his work, among them the Georg Büchner Award and the Peace Prize of the German Book Trade. He has also been decorated with the order Pour le Mérite and was appointed Officier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres. In 2015 he was awarded with the Nietzsche Prize for his life’s work.
“I suffer from persecution mania. That’s the only difference between me and the people who are after me.” These are the opening lines of Martin Walser’s third, and much-anticipated, volume featuring Meßmer, one of his most famous characters. As a book it resembles a collection of lights that briefly and beguilingly flare up in the darkness, cognitive will-o-the-wisps, disjointed thoughts and aphorisms. Flash cards of the soul. “Everyone knows how old you are. Only you don’t,” is one of the more melancholy examples. Another: “I am the ashes of a fire which I wasn’t.”
Meßmer’s Moments are remarkable because of their gravity. They live through their expressive power, yet represent a gamble, are infused with risk. And it is this uncertainty that offers a path to aesthetic beauty, towards resolution and salvation. “I have to avoid Me. How does one avoid oneself?” The darker his mood, the brighter the light that shines when Meßmer clothes his thoughts in words.
Meßmer’s Moments is a balancing act, filled with weightless moments of gravity, blinding flashes of darkness; murky depths are turned into a sparkling firmament by language. The book charts a persona, veiled, or so it seems, behind the name ‘Meßmer,’ a persona embroiled in a conflict between its own subjectivity and an exploration of the world, between reality and unreality.