Jakob von Gunten is a naughty little pervert

I submit to you, dear patient reader, the first two pages of a partial comic adaptation of Jakob von Gunten, the full series of which will appear in the upcoming issue of the online literary magazine, Narwhal.

Jakob von Gunten, the titular character of Robert Walser’s early modernist novel, is a young aristocrat who runs away from home to enroll in a school for servants. His impish and masochistic antics, to a contemporary reader, seem subtly and, yet palpably, sexual, yet few reviewers make much of this aspect, focusing instead on Jakob as a prankster and a free spirit, who makes a mockery of power and subordination rather than truly falling in love with it.

My “Lessons” 1 through 10, along with an expanded commentary, will be available when the new issue of Narwhal Magazine is online. In the meantime…

Your homework, dear reader, is to create a comic adaptation, in whole or in part, of a text. Or, as always, submit anything on this text in particular.

  1. Deadmeat said:

    If I was forced at pencil point by a queen bee fourth-grader to pick a BFF novel, Jakob von Gunten would probably be it.

    Nice choice of scenes to comicify, Mr Turner — neatly captures Jakob’s hilarious crypto-kinky hijinks, which I’ve also found oddly absent from a lot of the critical responses. To me, the whole novel is like this snickering dick-in-a-box prank where nobody quite musters up the courage to lift the lid and confirm that, yes, there’s a big boner in there.

    Looking forward to see if you’ll take a stab at the “filthy little animal trick” incident.

    • J. Turner said:

      Thanks Deadmeat, I love the image of being held at pencil point by a fourth-grader.

      The “filthy little animal trick” is indeed one of the other incidents I am using. Basically every scene I’ve chosen is one which features a metaphorical or implied “boner”. The result is admittedly a bit more prurient than the original, but let’s call it a “recalibration” of the attention the novel gets. When I read it, it made me blush and giggle, and yet most people describe Jakob more like a rebel than a crypto-perv.

      Thanks for your comment! I’ll wait patiently for your artistic rendering of a “dick-in-a-box prank”!

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