One of the most inventive and strange novels of the past 25 years, The Rings of Saturn follows a nameless narrator on a walking tour of Suffolk in England. We meditate with the narrator, not only on the physical landscape, but also on his thoughts and memories, as we're led through this peripatetic book. Black and white photographs punctuate the novel, and help provide a reading experience like few others. Recommended By Adam P., Powells.com
Synopses & Reviews
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.
"The book is so natural and accessible...that one is left enchanted." New York Times Book 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
"Astonishingly subtle, marked by lovely, clear sentences of perceptual grace, Sebald's new novel is haunting and unlikely to be forgotten." Providence Sunday Journal
"Not since Montaigne has an author bound such a breadth of passion, knowledge, experience and observation into such a singular vision." Salon.com
About the Author
W. G. Sebald was 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.