Prison/ Sanatorium/ Monastery

Genet often claimed that the happiest years of his life were those spent in the reformatory and in prison: “Prison isn’t prison, it’s escape, it’s freedom. There you can escape the trivial and return to the essential.” In Walks with Walser, the writer tells Carl Seelig, apropos his arrival at Herisau: “I was very content in my sick person’s room. To remain prone like a felled tree, without having to move one’s little finger. All desires drift off to sleep, like children tired of playing. It’s like being in a monastery, or in the antechamber of death.” And invoking the last thirty years of Hölderlin’s life, in the care of others, Walser remarked: “To be able to dream quietly in a corner without constantly having tasks to fulfil is no martyrdom.” He is also reputed to have said of his confinement at Herisau, “I am not here to write but to be mad.”

Moyra Davies, Index Cards, 136.