Archive for the ‘W.G. Sebald’ Category

Austerlitz, W.G. Sebald, Part 3

Sunday, August 9th, 2009

“…if am walking through the city and look into one of the quiet courtyards where nothing has changed for decades, I feel, almost physically, the current of time slowing down in the gravitational field of oblivion. It seems to me then as if all the moments of our life occupy the same space, as if future events already existed and were only waiting for us to find our way to them at last…And might it not be…that we also have appointments to keep in the past, in what has gone before and is for the most part extinguished, and must go there in search of places and people who have some connection with us on the far side of time…?”

Austerlitz, W.G. Sebald, Part 1

Friday, August 7th, 2009

One of the books I am currently reading is Austerlitz, the final novel by German author W.G. Sebald who died in a car accident in 2001. Susan Sontag, for what it’s worth, called him a “contemporary master of the literature of lament and mental restlessness.” I suppose I concur, although it’s difficult to say what, exactly, makes the experience of reading this book so wonderful. The prose is clear but remains atmospheric, like a portion of a Bela Tarr film or a T.S. Eliot poem come to life. It’s surely not lament like the work of Arvo Part, for instance, nor, for that matter, a murky and merciless masterpiece like the 1964 novel Second Skin by another favorite of mine, the American writer John Hawkes. Sebald has an interesting technique of nesting narration, so that the narrator of the novel is relating the narration of his acquaintance Austerlitz who, in turn, is relating the narration of a third party. It is not nearly as unwieldly as it sounds, but it has the curious effect of softly muffling the goings on and quite successfully blurring the line between present and past.  It’s a nice feeling