The Natural History of Destruction
December 14, 2008 10:37 AM   Subscribe

Seven years ago today, the German writer W.G. Sebald was involved in a fatal car accident near his home in Norwich, England. Sebald worked as an academic at The University of East Anglia, but some of his writings found a receptive wider readership. The works which brought him to public attention were four books, written originally in German, which seemed to blend memoir and fiction, photography and prose: Vertigo, The Emigrants, The Rings of Saturn, and Austerlitz. He also wrote poetry, and used some of those poems to collaborate with visual artists. In the main, his sad, erudite work revolves around themes of loss, destruction, landscape, and memory, and it continues to inspire exhibitions, stage plays, reflections, and tributes (not to mention blogs and videos). His voice is missed.
posted by hydatius (8 comments total) 16 users marked this as a favorite
[Hat tip to the Vertigo blog for the wonderful final link, by the way.]
posted by hydatius at 10:39 AM on December 14, 2008

No photographs in the Austerlitz excerpt? I call shenanigans.

But thanks for the post, hydatius. I wish I could have gone to the East Anglia conference this September.
posted by felix grundy at 11:05 AM on December 14, 2008

I've only read Austerlitz, but loved it. Thanks for the rest of the links!
posted by benzenedream at 12:38 PM on December 14, 2008

I love Sebald. There's a book out called Photography after Sebald which I own but haven't actually looked in.
posted by kenko at 12:43 PM on December 14, 2008

I read Rings of Saturn in one sitting. Literally couldn't put it down.
posted by bardic at 12:16 AM on December 15, 2008

The Rings of Saturn and The Emigrants are two of my favorite books, and I don't even usually read fiction. (Self link: an Emigrants Google Earth project I did for school.) Understanding W. G. Sebald by Mark R. McCulloh is a nice book to check out of the library; I liked reading it just to spend more time thinking about Sebald's work.
posted by dreamyshade at 12:31 AM on December 15, 2008

Fantastic post. I read The Rings Of Saturn in almost a single gulp and still think its one of the greatest pieces of prose ever constructed. I'd give several body parts to be able to capture that commonplace melancholy that Sebald seems to sew into every sentence.
posted by Jofus at 3:59 AM on December 15, 2008

I'd like to say something enthusiastic about Sebald but anything would be laughably inadequate. It's incomprehensible that he died. I would have gladly given up my life in order to save his. Ridiculous to say but true.
posted by limon at 7:31 PM on December 15, 2008

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