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After Nature (Modern Library)by Winfried Georg Sebald
"The momentum created by the piling of image upon image, of figure upon figure, is so powerful that when one reaches the end of the book — I have experienced this with all of Sebald's books, and others have mentioned it as well — one feels an irresistible compulsion to turn it over and begin again...." Ruth Franklin, The New Republic (read the entire New Republic review)
Synopses & Reviews
After Nature, W. G. Sebalds first literary work, now translated into English by Michael Hamburger, explores the lives of three men connected by their restless questioning of humankinds place in the natural world. From the efforts of each, “an order arises, in places beautiful and comforting, though more cruel, too, than the previous state of ignorance.” The first figure is the great German Re-naissance painter Matthias Grünewald. The second is the Enlightenment botanist-explorer Georg Steller, who accompanied Bering to the Arctic. The third is the author himself, who describes his wanderings among landscapes scarred by the wrecked certainties of previous ages.
After Nature introduces many of the themes that W. G. Sebald explored in his subsequent books. A haunting vision of the waxing and waning tides of birth and devastation that lie behind and before us, it confirms the authors position as one of the most profound and original writers of our time.
From the Hardcover edition.
Translated for the first time into English by Michael Hamburger, W. G. Sebald's first literary work is a beautiful and cosmically unsettling prose-poem meditation on the ceaseless cycles of destruction and rebirth, natural and man-made, that are our inheritance and our destiny. W. G. Sebald begins with a poem about the life of the German Renaissance painter Matthaeus Grunewald, whose greatest work broke new ground in its depiction of human suffering. He then turns to the German Enlightenment explorer and botanist Georg Steller and his part in a tragic expedition, ordered by Catherine the Great and led by Vitus Bering, to find a sea route from the Russian Far East to North America. Sebald concludes with journeys from his own boyhood through landscapes scarred by human folly. A work of strange and terrible beauty, After Nature confirms W. G. Sebald's stature as one of the most profound and original writers of our time.
About the Author
W. G. Sebald was born in Wertach im Allgäu, Germany, in 1944. He studied German language and literature in Freiburg, Switzerland, and Manchester. He taught at the University of East Anglia in Norwich, England, for thirty years, becoming professor of European literature in 1987, and from 1989 to 1994 was the first director of the British Centre for Literary Translation. His previously translated books—The Rings of Saturn, The Emigrants, Vertigo, and Austerlitz—have won a number of international awards, including the National Book Critics Circle Award, the Los Angeles Times Book Award, the Berlin Literature Prize, and the Literatur Nord Prize. He died in December 2001.
From the Hardcover edition.
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