Carl Seelig (1894-1962), both as Walser’s friend and guardian, as well as a selfless supporter of countless writers, is now part of literary history. His accomplishments as a most prolific journalist, editor, and especially as a literary author, however, have been largely forgotten. Only the Wanderungen mit Robert Walser, published in 1957, and his biography of Albert Einstein, written in the 1950s and still in print, are still part of literary memory.
Carl Seelig’s work as a patron of literature dates
back to the early 1920s. As an associate of the Vienna-based
Tal-Verlag, Seelig edited the texts of Stefan Zweig, Romain Holland,
Henry Barbusse, for example, and years later he worked on new editions
of the works of Georg Büchner, Jean Paul, Eduard Mörike, Heinrich Heine, Georg Heym, among others.
As a busy “patron of the arts, mentor and errand boy” (Mittenzwei), Seelig supported, particularly between 1933 and 1945, a number of exiled writers and enabled their survival in Switzerland and other European countries.
Seelig’s engagement is evident from the correspondence found in his estate, such as letters from Alfred Polgar, Max Brod, Ferdinand Hardekopf, Jo Mihaly, Stefan Zweig and many others. Furthermore, Seelig tirelessly promoted Swiss literature. Seelig’s estate includes his correspondence with more or less every writer who was publishing his or her work in Switzerland between 1920 and 1960, an impressive 9000 letters in total.
The signed copies found in Seelig’s library, his collection of celebrity photographs and his documents on Albert Einstein, are invaluable to scholars and researchers in the field of Exile Studies.
Seelig’s edited texts, including the corresponding documents, drafts for a Walser biography, and his correspondence with Walser are especially relevant to the study of Robert Walser’s life and work.
Requests to consult documents from the Carl Seelig estate must be made at least two weeks in advance via the Robert Walser Archive (lukas.gloor(at)robertwalser.ch).