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EDITORS CHOICE - The Emigrants

The Emigrants- W. G. Sebald -

"A masterpiece."―Richard Eder, The New York Times.

Published to enormous critical acclaim in the US, The Emigrants has been acclaimed as "one of the best novels to appear since World War II" (Review of Contemporary Fiction) and three times chosen as the 1996 International Book of the Year. The poignant and acclaimed novel about the beauty of lost things, while the protagonist traces the lives of four elderly German/Jewish exiles. The Emigrants is composed of four long narratives which at first appear to be the straightforward accounts of the lives of several Jewish exiles in England, Austria, and America. The narrator literally follows their footsteps, studding each story with photographs and creating the impression that the reader is poring over a family album. But gradually, Sebald's prose, which combines documentary description with almost hallucinatory fiction, exerts a new magic, and the four stories merge into one. Illustrated throughout with enigmatic photographs.
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Winifried Georg Sebald (Max Sebald) 2001W.G. (Max) Sebald (1944-2001)

Winfried Georg Sebald was born in Wertach im Allgau, Germany towards the end of the Second World War. Although much of Germany was devastated by the war, he passed his first ten years in an idyllic, nearly untouched, village in the foothills of the Bavarian Alps.

These were formative years for Professor Sebald. The son of a German officer who never discussed his wartime experience, he felt an underlying "conspiracy of silence". Visiting Munich, he remembered "a few buildings standing intact and between them an avalanche of scree that had come down....people didn't comment on it...it seemed to me the natural condition of cities...houses between mountains of rubble". Mr. Sebald attended the University in Freiburg and was educated there by a conservative faculty. He felt that "there was something not acknowledged" in the undercurrent of Third Reich intellectualism at the school. It was these experiences that shaped his later writings.

W.G. Sebald wrote personal histories in narrative fictional style; a genre of his own. A poet, essayist and novelist, he wrote often about characters living with the memories of World War 2 and the Holocaust. Professor Sebald would construct his stories by browsing through old photographs. He would briefly research archives and libraries, but drew his inspiration from his collection of postcards, maps and pictures in magazines.

W.G. Sebald left Germany two years after university for Switzerland and later, Great Britain, for a lecturing position at the University of Manchester. Mr. Sebald remained unsettled in England. "I've lived here for thirty years, but I don't feel in the least at home". A common element in his books reflect this unease; a wandering mobile traveler.

Critic James Wood of the New Republic wrote "Anxious, daring, extreme, muted - only an annulling wash of contradictory adjectives can approach the agitated density of W.G. Sebald's writing". The New York Times chose Sebald's "Austerlitz" as one of the nine best books of 2001. Times critic Michiko Kakutani compared W.G. Sebald's writing as reminiscent of Igmar Bergman's "Wild Strawberries", Kafka's fables and Proust's "Remembrance of Things Past".

"Sebald is a thrilling, original writer. He makes narration a state of investigative bliss." W.S. Di Piero, The New York Times Book Review

 

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W. G. Sebald

The Rings of Saturn -W. G. Sebald - - New Directions Publishing Corporation

"The book is like a dream you want to last forever" (Roberta Silman, The New York Times Book Review), now with a gorgeous new cover by the famed designer Peter Mendelsund

A masterwork of W. G. Sebald, now with a gorgeous new cover by the famed designer Peter Mendelsund 

The Rings of Saturn―with its curious archive of photographs―records a walking tour of the eastern coast of England. A few of the things which cross the path and mind of its narrator (who both is and is not Sebald) are lonely eccentrics, Sir Thomas Browne’s skull, a matchstick model of the Temple of Jerusalem, recession-hit seaside towns, wooded hills, Joseph Conrad, Rembrandt’s "Anatomy Lesson," the natural history of the herring, the massive bombings of WWII, the dowager Empress Tzu Hsi, and the silk industry in Norwich. W.G. Sebald’s The Emigrants (New Directions, 1996) was hailed by Susan Sontag as an "astonishing masterpiece perfect while being unlike any book one has ever read." It was "one of the great books of the last few years," noted Michael Ondaatje, who now acclaims The Rings of Saturn "an even more inventive work than its predecessor, The Emigrants."

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Austerlitz (Modern Library Paperbacks) -W.G. Sebald - - Modern Library

This tenth anniversary edition of W. G. Sebald’s celebrated masterpiece includes a new Introduction by acclaimed critic James Wood. Austerlitz is the story of a man’s search for the answer to his life’s central riddle. A small child when he comes to England on a Kindertransport in the summer of 1939, Jacques Austerlitz is told nothing of his real family by the Welsh Methodist minister and his wife who raise him. When he is a much older man, fleeting memories return to him, and obeying an instinct he only dimly understands, Austerlitz follows their trail back to the world he left behind a half century before. There, faced with the void at the heart of twentieth-century Europe, he struggles to rescue his heritage from oblivion.

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The Emigrants (New Directions Paperbook) -W. G. Sebald - - New Directions Publishing Corporation

A masterwork of W. G. Sebald, now with a gorgeous new cover by the famed designer Peter Mendelsund 

The four long narratives in The Emigrants appear at first to be the straightforward biographies of four Germans in exile. Sebald reconstructs the lives of a painter, a doctor, an elementary-school teacher, and Great Uncle Ambrose. Following (literally) in their footsteps, the narrator retraces routes of exile which lead from Lithuania to London, from Munich to Manchester, from the South German provinces to Switzerland, France, New York, Constantinople, and Jerusalem. Along with memories, documents, and diaries of the Holocaust, he collects photographs―the enigmatic snapshots which stud The Emigrants and bring to mind family photo albums. Sebald combines precise documentary with fictional motifs, and as he puts the question to realism, the four stories merge into one unfathomable requiem.

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Vertigo -W. G. Sebald - - New Directions Publishing Corporation

A masterwork of W. G. Sebald, now with a gorgeous new cover by the famed designer Peter Mendelsund 

Perfectly titled, Vertigo ―W.G. Sebald's marvelous first novel ― is a work that teeters on the edge: compelling, puzzling, and deeply unsettling.

An unnamed narrator, beset by nervous ailments, journeys accross Europe to Vienna, Venice, Verona, Riva, and finally to his childhood home in a small Bavarian village. He is also journeying into the past. Traveling in the footsteps of Stendhal, Casanova, and Kafka, the narrator draws the reader, line by line, into a dizzying web of history, biography, legends, literature, and ― most perilously ― memories.

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After Nature (Modern Library Paperbacks) -W.G. Sebald - After Nature, W. G. Sebald’s first literary work, now translated into English by Michael Hamburger, explores the lives of three men connected by their restless questioning of humankind’s 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 author’s position as one of the most profound and original writers of our time.


From the Hardcover edition.

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On the Natural History of Destruction (Modern Library Paperbacks) -W.G. Sebald - - Modern Library During World War Two, 131 German cities and towns were targeted by Allied bombs, a good number almost entirely flattened. Six hundred thousand German civilians died—a figure twice that of all American war casualties. Seven and a half million Germans were left homeless. Given the astonishing scope of the devastation, W. G. Sebald asks, why does the subject occupy so little space in Germany’s cultural memory? On the Natural History of Destruction probes deeply into this ominous silence.

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Three Book Sebald Set: The Emigrants, The Rings of Saturn, and Vertigo -W. G. Sebald - - Three Book Sebald Set The Emigrants the Rings of Saturn and Vertigo

The masterworks of W. G. Sebald, now in gorgeous new covers by the famed designer Peter Mendelsund

New Directions is delighted to announce beautiful new editions of these three classic Sebald novels, including his two greatest works, The Emigrants and The Rings of Saturn. All three novels are distinguished by their translations, every line of which Sebald himself made pitch-perfect, slaving to carry into English all his essential elements: the shadows, the lambent fallings-back, nineteenth-century Germanic undertones, tragic elegiac notes, and his unique, quiet wit.

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A Place in the Country (Modern Library Paperbacks) -W.G. Sebald - A Place in the Country is W. G. Sebald’s meditation on the six artists and writers who shaped his creative mind—and the last of this great writer’s major works to be translated into English.
 
This edition includes more than 40 pieces of art, all originally selected by W. G. Sebald.

This extraordinary collection of interlinked essays about place, memory, and creativity captures the inner worlds of five authors and one painter. In his masterly and mysterious style—part critical essay, part memoir—Sebald weaves their lives and art with his own migrations and rise in the literary world.
 
Here are people gifted with talent and courage yet in some cases cursed by fragile and unstable natures, working in countries inhospitable or even hostile to them. Jean-Jacques Rousseau is conjured on the verge of physical and mental exhaustion, hiding from his detractors on the island of St. Pierre, where two centuries later Sebald took rooms adjacent to his. Eighteenth-century author Johann Peter Hebel is remembered for his exquisite and delicate nature writing, expressing the eternal balance of both the outside world and human emotions. Writer Gottfried Keller, best known for his 1850 novel Green Henry, is praised for his prescient insights into a Germany where “the gap between self-interest and the common good was growing ever wider.”
 
Sebald compassionately re-creates the ordeals of Eduard Mörike, the nineteenth-century German poet beset by mood swings, depression, and fainting spells in an increasingly shallow society, and Robert Walser, the institutionalized author whose nearly indecipherable scrawls seemed an attempt to “duck down below the level of language and obliterate himself” (and whose physical appearance and year of death mirrored those of Sebald’s grandfather). Finally, Sebald spies a cognizance of death’s inevitability in painter Jan Peter Tripp’s lovingly exact reproductions of life.
 
Featuring the same kinds of suggestive and unexplained illustrations that appear in his masterworks Austerlitz and The Rings of Saturn, and translated by Sebald’s colleague Jo Catling, A Place in the Country is Sebald’s unforgettable self-portrait as seen through the experiences of others, a glimpse of his own ghosts alongside those of the men who influenced him. It is an essential addition to his stunning body of work.

Praise for A Place in the Country
 
“Measured, solemn, sardonic . . . hypnotic . . . [W. G. Sebald’s] books, which he made out of classics, remain classics for now.”—Joshua Cohen, The New York Times Book Review

“In Sebald’s writing, everything is connected, everything webbed together by the unseen threads of history, or chance, or fate, or death. The scholarly craft of gathering scattered sources and weaving them into a coherent whole is transformed here into something beautiful and unsettling, elevated into an art of the uncanny—an art that was, in the end, Sebald’s strange and inscrutable gift.”Slate
 
“Magnificent . . . The multiple layers surrounding each essay are seamless to the point of imperceptibility.”—New York Daily News
 
“Sebald’s most tender and jovial book.”—The Nation

“Reading [A Place in the Country is] like going for a walk with a beautifully talented, deeply passionate novelist from Mars.”New York

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Campo Santo (Modern Library Paperbacks) -W.G. Sebald - - Used Book in Good Condition “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 island’s 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 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 status as one of the great modern writers who divined and expressed the invisible connections that determine our lives.

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The Emergence of Memory: Conversations with W. G. Sebald -W.G. Sebald - When German author W. G. Sebald died in a car accident at the age of fifty-seven, the literary world mourned the loss of a writer whose oeuvre it was just beginning to appreciate. Through published interviews with and essays on Sebald, award-winning translator and author Lynne Sharon Schwartz offers a profound portrait of the writer, who has been praised posthumously for his unflinching explorations of historical cruelty, memory, and dislocation.
With contributions from poet, essayist, and translator Charles Simic, New Republic editor Ruth Franklin, Bookworm radio host Michael Silverblatt, and more, The Emergence of Memory offers Sebald’s own voice in interviews between 1997 up to a month before his death in 2001. Also included are cogent accounts of almost all of Sebald’s books, thematically linked to events in the contributors’ own lives.
Contributors include Carole Angier, Joseph Cuomo, Ruth Franklin, Michael Hofmann, Arthur Lubow, Tim Parks, Michael Silverblatt, Charles Simic, and Eleanor Wachtel.

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