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The Rings of Saturn

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The Rings of Saturn Cover

ISBN13: 9780811214131
ISBN10: 0811214133
Condition: Standard
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Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

A fictional account of a walking tour through England's East Anglia, Sebald's home for more than twenty years, The Rings of Saturn explores Britain's pastoral and imperial past. Its ten strange and beautiful chapters, with their curious archive of photographs, consider dreams and reality. As the narrator walks, a company of ghosts keeps him company — Thomas Browne, Swinburne, Chateaubriand, Joseph Conrad, Borges — conductors between the past and present. The narrator meets lonely eccentrics inhabiting tumble-down mansions, and hears of the furious coastal battles of two world wars. He tells of far-off China and the introduction of the silk industry to Norwich. He walks to the now forsaken harbor where Conrad first set foot on English soil and visits the site of the once-great city of Dunwich, now sunk in the sea, where schools of herring swim. As the narrator catalogs the transmigration of whole worlds, the reader is mesmerized by change and oblivion, survival and memories. Blending fiction and history, Sebald's art is as strange and beautiful as the rings of Saturn, created from fragments of shattered moons.

Review:

"The book is so natural and accessible...that one is left enchanted." New York Times Book Review

Review:

"Erudition of this sort is too rare in American fiction, but the hypnotic appeal here has as much to do with Sebald's deft portrait of the subtle, complex relations between individual experience and the rich human firmament that gives it meaning as it does with his remarkable mastery of history." Kirkus Reviews

Review:

"Astonishingly subtle, marked by lovely, clear sentences of perceptual grace, Sebald's new novel is haunting and unlikely to be forgotten." Providence Sunday Journal

Review:

"Not since Montaigne has an author bound such a breadth of passion, knowledge, experience and observation into such a singular vision." Salon.com

Review:

"This German who has lived in England for over thirty years is one of the most mysteriously sublime of contemporary writers.... And here, in The Rings of Saturn, is a book more uncanny than The Emigrants." James Woods

Synopsis:

"Ostensibly a record of a journey on foot through coastal East Anglia," as Robert McCrum in the London Observer noted, The Rings of Saturn "is also a brilliantly allusive study of England's imperial past and the nature of decline and fall, of loss and decay. . . . The Rings of Saturn is exhilaratingly, you might say hypnotically, readable. . . . It is hard to imagine a stranger or more compelling work." The Rings of Saturn - with its curious archive of photographs - chronicles a tour across epochs as well as countryside. On his way, the narrator meets lonely eccentrics inhabiting tumble-down mansions and links them to Rembrandt's "Anatomy Lesson," the natural history of the herring, a matchstick model of the Temple of Jerusalem, the travels of Sir Thomas Browne's skull, and the massive bombings of WWII. Cataloging change, oblivion, and memories, he connects sugar fortunes, Joseph Conrad, and the horrors of colonizing the Belgian Congo. The narrator finds threads which run from an abandoned bridge over the River Blyth to the terrible dowager Empress Tzu Hsi and the silk industry in Norwich. "Sebald," as The New Yorker stated, "weaves his tale together with a complexity and historical sweep that easily encompasses both truth and fiction." The Emigrants (hailed by Susan Sontag as an "astonishing masterpiece-perfect while being unlike any book one has ever read") was "one of the great books of the last few years," as Michael Ondaatje noted: "and now The Rings of Saturn is a similar and as strange a triumph."

About the Author

W. G. Sebaldwas born in Germany in 1944 and died in 2001. He is the author of The Emigrants, The Rings of Saturn, Vertigo, Austerlitz, After Nature, On the Natural History of Destruction, Unrecounted and Campo Santo.

What Our Readers Are Saying

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Average customer rating based on 4 comments:

EJI, August 4, 2012 (view all comments by EJI)
One of the greatest novels of the 20th century. A beautiful blend of the postmodern and the pastoral.
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(6 of 10 readers found this comment helpful)
second gary, September 30, 2011 (view all comments by second gary)
In his book on Rossini in Paris in the 1820s, Benjamin Walton recalls that Stendhal suggested once that an ideal emblem for the art, music or literary critic could be found in an anecdote concerning an Italian tour guide, who would mutely indicate with an extended arm where his clients ought to be looking, all the while saying nothing. I think of this when I think of how one reader might suggest "The rings of Saturn" to another. My friend Emily leant me her copy sometime in June 2010: her bookmarks stayed with the book, two ticket stubs showing trips between Philadelphia, New York and Washington. One of my own bookmarks has stayed, too, a boarding pass for a flight from Toronto to Glasgow, from the last week of June 2010. I only read the book this spring; when I first tried it, it didn't catch, although I did recall the scene of generations of fishermen and their huts on the east coast of England. But it would be wrong to say more about the book, as its unexpected qualities... ah... I almost said too much. I did say too much. I am sorry. Let's just go back to that church interior somewhere in, oh, probably Venice, sometime around 1818, stand beside the guide, and point in the direction of "The rings of Saturn."
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(9 of 13 readers found this comment helpful)
graysea, January 26, 2011 (view all comments by graysea)
so, the first time i tried reading this book, i had trouble getting into it. but in the late spring of 2010, i gave it another chance... and i'm so glad, because as i continued on, i felt more and more amazed at what the author--and translator!--had accomplished. i was truly stunned by the poetry and lyricism of the language, and the strong thematic lines that emerged through uses of carefully repeated words and turns of phrase. the translator obviously took a lot of care to bring out the deep ideas of this complex novel.

there is a running theme about silk in the book, and one day i read a section in which sebald (gorgeously) describes the silkworms kept by the empress of china. a day or two after reading that, i stopped in at a little cafe in a little town on the central coast of california, and as i was sitting outside at a little table sipping my drink and reading RINGS OF SATURN, a woman walking by stopped and asked if i wanted to see some silkworms. turns out she had some in a box in her store. so i went and looked at them, and i listened to them munch their leaves, and i held one's strangely elastic, milky-white body in my hands and felt its sticky little feet, and thought, wow. this is pretty cool.

i don't know whether that would have happened if i hadn't been reading THE RINGS OF SATURN, but i like to think it wouldn't have.
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(5 of 8 readers found this comment helpful)
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Product Details

ISBN:
9780811214131
Translator:
Hulse, Michael
Author:
Hulse, Michael
Author:
Sebald, Winfried Georg
Author:
Sebald, W. G.
Author:
Hulse, Michael
Publisher:
New Directions Publishing Corporation
Location:
New York
Subject:
General
Subject:
England
Subject:
Authors, german
Subject:
Historical
Subject:
England Description and travel.
Subject:
Authors, German -- 20th century.
Subject:
Literature-A to Z
Copyright:
Series Volume:
no. 473
Publication Date:
April 1999
Binding:
TRADE PAPER
Grade Level:
General/trade
Language:
English
Illustrations:
Yes
Pages:
296
Dimensions:
8 x 5.5 x 0.9 in 0.62 lb

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Related Subjects


Fiction and Poetry » Literature » A to Z

The Rings of Saturn Used Trade Paper
0 stars - 0 reviews
$11.95 In Stock
Product details 296 pages New Directions Publishing Corporation - English 9780811214131 Reviews:
"Review" by , "The book is so natural and accessible...that one is left enchanted."
"Review" by , "Erudition of this sort is too rare in American fiction, but the hypnotic appeal here has as much to do with Sebald's deft portrait of the subtle, complex relations between individual experience and the rich human firmament that gives it meaning as it does with his remarkable mastery of history."
"Review" by , "Astonishingly subtle, marked by lovely, clear sentences of perceptual grace, Sebald's new novel is haunting and unlikely to be forgotten."
"Review" by , "Not since Montaigne has an author bound such a breadth of passion, knowledge, experience and observation into such a singular vision."
"Review" by , "This German who has lived in England for over thirty years is one of the most mysteriously sublime of contemporary writers.... And here, in The Rings of Saturn, is a book more uncanny than The Emigrants."
"Synopsis" by , "Ostensibly a record of a journey on foot through coastal East Anglia," as Robert McCrum in the London Observer noted, The Rings of Saturn "is also a brilliantly allusive study of England's imperial past and the nature of decline and fall, of loss and decay. . . . The Rings of Saturn is exhilaratingly, you might say hypnotically, readable. . . . It is hard to imagine a stranger or more compelling work." The Rings of Saturn - with its curious archive of photographs - chronicles a tour across epochs as well as countryside. On his way, the narrator meets lonely eccentrics inhabiting tumble-down mansions and links them to Rembrandt's "Anatomy Lesson," the natural history of the herring, a matchstick model of the Temple of Jerusalem, the travels of Sir Thomas Browne's skull, and the massive bombings of WWII. Cataloging change, oblivion, and memories, he connects sugar fortunes, Joseph Conrad, and the horrors of colonizing the Belgian Congo. The narrator finds threads which run from an abandoned bridge over the River Blyth to the terrible dowager Empress Tzu Hsi and the silk industry in Norwich. "Sebald," as The New Yorker stated, "weaves his tale together with a complexity and historical sweep that easily encompasses both truth and fiction." The Emigrants (hailed by Susan Sontag as an "astonishing masterpiece-perfect while being unlike any book one has ever read") was "one of the great books of the last few years," as Michael Ondaatje noted: "and now The Rings of Saturn is a similar and as strange a triumph."
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