At first "The Emigrants" appears simply to document the lives of four Jewish emigres in the twentieth century. But gradually, as Sebald's precise, almost dreamlike prose begins to draw their stories, the four narrations merge into one overwhelming evocation of exile and loss. Written with a bone-dry sense of humour and a fascination with the ...
At first "The Emigrants" appears simply to document the lives of four Jewish emigres in the twentieth century. But gradually, as Sebald's precise, almost dreamlike prose begins to draw their stories, the four narrations merge into one overwhelming evocation of exile and loss. Written with a bone-dry sense of humour and a fascination with the oddness of existence "The Emigrants" is highly original in its heady mix of fact, memory and fiction and photographs.
Never heard of him? I'd never heard of him until a colleague told me she was writing a major article on the last novella in The Emigrants; my book-illustrator friend said Sebald is one of the greatest writers of the 20th century; and my sister, the novelist, said the first chapter of her upcoming novel makes reference to Sebald. I got ahold of a copy, and wonder how I missed, previously, this intense, Nabakovian, what more can I say? Read it!
Jun 28, 2009
strange and remarkable
This is the work of Sebald's in which his theme is most easily grasped - the disturbing power in later life of early dispossession. But his manner of writing is just as strange and remarkable as in his other works - and, ultimately, compelling. The conclusion of Ambrose's tale may, in Sebald's quiet and subtle way, knock your socks off.
Oct 2, 2007
W.G. Sebald was a German writer who lived in England and tragically died in 2001 after being awarded the National Book Critics Circle Award for Austerlitz. This novel, The Emigrants, takes migration as its theme, which unifies four seemingly disparate narratives of German Jewish exiles, but the narratives are also haunted by memory and the past, the awful shadow of the Holocaust, while the present is marked by destruction: a ruinous hotel in Manchester, a decaying abode. Enigmatic, mysterious, with only hints of the historical horror to come, Sebald's novel has a somber tone, seamlessly combining fiction, autobiography, and photographic images in a beguiling mixture--a collage of fact and interpretation, reportage and analysis, journalism and poetry. What the narrator leaves unsaid is every bit as important as what he writes. Perhaps the late author sounds exactly the right note--the gravity of Bach's Art of Fugue?--for our post-9/11, milennial age.
Publishers Weekly, 1997-07-14 ISBN 0-8112-1366-8. Four "biographies" of Germans in exile. (Sept.)
Publishers Weekly, 1996-08-19 Composed of four compelling portraits of Jewish ?migr?s whose lives have been scarred by exile, dislocation and persecution, this unusual work of fiction is pervaded by a sensibility and a degree of circumstantial detail so authentic that it could pass for historical documentation. That Sebald has invested his fictional creations with both dignity and pathos is a mark of his achievement here. A narrator provides perspective on the lives he relates. Retired surgeon Henry Selwyn was born Hersch Seweryn and changed his name after arrival in England; his disclosure of his true origins to his Swiss wife causes an irreparable rift in their marriage and an essential loss of identity in the now aimless man. Paul Bereyter, fired from his post as schoolteacher in Germany because he is one-quarter Jewish, serves six years in the Germany army and is haunted by the bestial violence he witnesses. Ambros Adelwarth escapes Germany, finally settling in the U.S. Concealing his traumas from family members, he commits himself to a sanitarium at age 67 and undergoes electroshock therapy, longing for extinction. German-born artist Max Ferber, a recluse in Manchester, England, suffers claustrophobia stemming from the deportation and murder of his parents by Nazis. Though none of the protagonists is thrown into a concentration camp, they are all haunted by the effects of the Holocaust. Two of them eventually commit suicide, all suffer shame and guilt, claustrophobia and depression. Photographs interwoven with the restrained text add to the cumulative effect, which is that of an eerie memento. Long after the Nazis have fallen, these exiled individuals endure existential agony and emotional breakdowns. German novelist and literary scholar Sebald, who has lived in England since 1970, won the Berlin Literature Prize for this remarkable work. (Oct.)
Alibris, the Alibris logo, and Alibris.com are registered trademarks of Alibris, Inc.
Copyright in bibliographic data and cover images is held by Nielsen Book Services Limited, Baker & Taylor, Inc., or by their respective licensors, or by the publishers, or by their respective licensors. For personal use only. All rights reserved. All rights in images of books or other publications are reserved by the original copyright holders.