10.02.2011 - Alissa Walser

In cooperation with the German Library of The Hague, we welcome Alissa Walser. At the end of January her beautiful novel Am Anfang war die Nacht Musik [in the beginning there was night music] will appear in a Dutch translation.

Walser based her novel on the meeting between the famous doctor/magnetizer Franz Anton Mesmer and the musical Wunderkind Maria Theresia von Paradis, in late 18th century Vienna. Walser knew from an early age of the historical existence of Mesmer, since she was brought up close to his house of birth. As a doctor he developed the magnetic therapy, something that made him famous among the general public but something he was mocked for at the same time within academic circles. When the famous pianist Maria Theresia von Paradis is placed in his care for treatment, this appears to be a golden opportunity for establishing his medical name. Maria Theresia has turned blind overnight at the age of three, and no one has been able to cure her ever since. Thanks to the personal attention Mesmer gives her, and their shared love for music, the girl flourishes, leading to an amazing result. But then other interests start being jeopardized…

Alissa Walser originally studied to be a painter, receiving her education in Vienna and New York. Since 1987 she is active as a translator and short story writer too. When a teacher once observed that one of her paintings was ‘mesmerizing’ Walser suddenly realised actually how enormous Mesmer’s impact must have been back then. It triggered her to write what came to be her debut novel: Am Anfang war die Nacht Musik.

Two years after her father Martin Walser visited our BorderKitchen, we are pleased that Alissa Walser will be our guest as well. She will be interviewed by Prof. Dr. Anthonya Visser (Leiden University). This evening will be in German.