Austerlitz by W. G. Sebald, Anthea Bell

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By W. G. Sebald, Anthea Bell

Over the process a thirty-year dialog unfolding in teach stations and tourists’ stops throughout England and Europe, W.G. Sebald’s unnamed narrator and Jacques Austerlitz talk about Austerlitz’s ongoing efforts to appreciate who he's. An orphan who got here to England on my own in the summertime of 1939 and was once raised by means of a Welsh Methodist minister and his spouse as their very own, Austerlitz grew up with out awake reminiscence of the place he got here from.

W.G. Sebald embodies in Austerlitz the common human look for identification, the fight to impose coherence on reminiscence, a fight complex through the mind’s defenses opposed to trauma. alongside the best way, this novel of many riches dwells magically on quite a few subjects–railway structure, army fortifications; insets, crops, and animals; the constellations; artistic endeavors; the unusual contents of the museum of a veterinary college; a small circus; and the 3 capital towns that loom over the ebook, London, Paris, and Prague–in the provider of its striking imaginative and prescient.

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Extra resources for Austerlitz

Example text

By the end of the novel, we certainly know a great deal about Jacques Austerlitz—about the tragic turns of his life, his family background, about his obsessions and anxieties and breakdowns—but it can’t be said that we really know him. A life has been filled in for us, but not a self. He remains as unknowable at the end as he was at the beginning, and indeed seems to quit the book as randomly and as unexpectedly as he entered it. Sebald deliberately layers and recesses his narrative, so that Austerlitz is difficult to get close to.

I shall never forget how he concluded his comments on the manufacture of the tall waiting-room mirrors by wondering, glancing up once more at their dimly shimmering surfaces as he left, combien des ouvriers périrent, lors de la manufacture de tels miroirs, de malignes et funestes affectations à la suite de l’inhalation de vapeurs de mercure et de cyanide. And just as Austerlitz had broken off with these words that first evening, so he continued his observations the following day, for which we had arranged a meeting on the promenade beside the Schelde.

She wears a canary-yellow dress, and the cavalier bending over her in concern is clad in red breeches, very conspicuous in the pallid light. Looking at the river now, thinking of that painting and its tiny figures, said Austerlitz, I feel as if the moment depicted by Lucas van Valckenborch had never come to an end, as if the canary-yellow lady had only just fallen over or swooned, as if the black velvet hood had only this moment dropped away from her head, as if the little accident, which no doubt goes unnoticed by most viewers, were always happening over and over again, and nothing and no one could ever remedy it.

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