Synopses & Reviews
“W. G. Sebald exemplified the best kind of cosmopolitan literary intelligence-humane, digressive, deeply erudite, unassuming and tinged with melancholy. . . . In [Campo Santo] Sebald reveals his distinctive tone, as his winding sentences gradually mingle together curiosity and plangency, learning and self-revelation. . . . [Readers will] be rewarded with unexpected illuminations.”
-The Washington Post Book World
This final collection of essays by W. G. Sebald offers profound ruminations on many themes common to his work-the power of memory and personal history, the connections between images in the arts and life, the presence of ghosts in places and artifacts. Some of these pieces pay tribute to the Mediterranean island of Corsica, weaving elegiacally between past and present, examining, among other things, the islands formative effect on its most famous citizen, Napoleon. In others, Sebald examines how the works of Günter Grass and Heinrich Böll reveal “the grave and lasting deformities in the emotional lives” of postwar Germans; how Kafka echoes Sebalds own interest in spirit presences among mortal beings; and how literature can be an attempt at restitution for the injustices of the real world.
Dazzling in its erudition, accessible in its deep emotion, Campo Santo confirms Sebalds status as one of the great modern writers who divined and expressed the invisible connections that determine our lives.
In this final collection of sixteen essays by W. G. Sebald, one of the most elegant and incisive authors of our time, all of his trademark themes are contained-the power of memory and personal history, the connections between images in the arts and life, the presence of ghosts in places and artifacts.
Four pieces pay tribute to the Mediterranean island of Corsica, weaving elegiacally between past and present. In "A Little Excursion to Ajaccio," Sebald visits the birthplace of Napoleon and muses on the hints in his childhood home of a great man's future. Inspired by an Italian cemetery, "Campo Santo" is a reverie on death, ranging from the ambiguity of inscriptions to the size of and adornment of gravestones to the blood-soaked legend of Saint Julien.
Sebald also examines how the works of Gunter Grass and Heinrich Boll reveal "the grave and lasting deformities in the emotional lives" of postwar Germans, how Kafka echoes Sebald's own interest in spirit presences among mortal beings, and how literature can be an attempt at restitution for the injustices of the real world.
Dazzling in its erudition, accessible in its deep emotion, "Campo Santo confirms Sebald's place beside Proust and Nabokov, great writers who perceive the invisible connections that determine our lives.
"From the Hardcover edition.
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 novels–The Rings of Saturn, The Emigrants, Vertigo,
–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. His posthumous publications include On the Natural History of Destruction
and After Nature
Translator ANTHEA BELL won the Helen and Kurt Wolff Prize for her translation of Austerlitz. She lives in Cambridge, England.
From the Hardcover edition.