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The Emigrants

4.18  ·  Rating Details  ·  4,317 Ratings  ·  384 Reviews
The four long narratives in appear at first to be the straightforward accounts of the lives of Jewish exiles and émigrés in our calamitous century. Following (quite literally) in their footsteps, the narrator traces routes which lead from Lithuania to London, from Munich to Manchester, from the South German provinces to Switzerland, France, New York, Constantinople and Jer ...more
Paperback
Published July 3rd 1997 by Vintage (first published 1992)
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(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Garima
My tale was heard and yet it was not told,
My fruit is fallen, and yet my leaves are green,
My youth is spent and yet I am not old,
I saw the world and yet I was not seen;
My thread is cut and yet it is not spun,
And now I live, and now my life is done.


~ Tichborne's Elegy

It’s hard to fathom the way memories assume their role in our lives. Sometimes like a long lost companion and sometimes like an unwelcome guest, they walk the slippery road of our yesteryear excursions and become the unreliable sour
...more
David
Feb 08, 2010 David rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I am usually not able to read on airplanes for various reasons, not least of which is that I need to concentrate on operating my imaginary foot pedals to ensure that the plane doesn't plummet to the earth and crash in a fiery eruption of cheap diamond-patterned blue upholstery, molten plastic, and of course several dozen charred, unidentifiable human remains. The most I can hope for in the way of diversionary reading is that crappy catalog of shit that no one in their right mind (which doesn't r ...more
Nidhi Singh
Feb 19, 2015 Nidhi Singh rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Nidhi by: Garima
For years the images of that exodus had been gone from his memory, but recently he said, they had been returning once again and making their presence felt.

I have never come across a writer who evokes the beautiful, tragic, calamitous struggle and engagement between a person and the past as Sebald does in ‘The Emigrants’. In this devastatingly beautiful exploration of loss and exile, of history and biography, of the lives and memory of these four lost souls, there is the undertow of soft whisper
...more
Agnieszka
May 26, 2015 Agnieszka rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own, favorites, 2013, reviewed

You said:”I’ll go to another country ,go to another shore,
Find another city better than this one


These verses from Cavafy at once came to my mind as only I started reading The emigrants .
Sebald takes us for a journey back into the past ,travelling across Switzerland , France , America , England , Jerusalem , Constantinople . We can see how he was collecting maps , diaries , photographs of people and places , houses , railways and furniture ,in detail depicturing all migration traces through
...more
Ben
They told me not to walk alone, day or night. But I had to see the cemetery. I’d been told earlier by a painter and a pharmacist that if I took a right onto the main road (dirty and stoned, of course) from the clinic, I would eventually come to the end of the road where I was sure to see the gates of El Cementerio. “But you aren’t going alone?” they asked.

As I set about, the blazing sun -- a hotness I was first introduced to and had only first known three days before, upon my arrival -- was beat
...more
Brian
May 25, 2013 Brian rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Sebald's writing is an artistry in a league of its own. This novel of four independent narratives tied to another through the themes of loss, exhile and remembering. Whether one of Sebald's subjects (or narrators, for that matter) is reminiscing of a lost country or a dead loved one, the words couldn't be more perfectly chosen, more weighted with meaning.

Sebald is also a master at depicting the two-headed dragon of memory with its ability to cage and liberate. Telling stories was as much a torme
...more
Ellie
Χρόνος και πόνος και δήθεν εαυτός
Ω να τέλειωναν όλα.


'Οπως οι δακτύλιοι ετσι κι αυτό. Βραδυφλεγές ανάγνωσμα, σα να χει γραφτεί μέσα στη σκιά ή στο λυκαυγές. Η μνήμη και εδώ, η αναζήτηση ταυτότητας, σελίδες που ισορροπούν ανάμεσα στο fiction και Non-fiction, ενας σπουδαίος συγγραφέας και ερευνητής. Τέσσερις άνθρωποι που εφυγαν από τη Γερμανία του μεσοπολέμου, τεσσερις προσωπικότητες με σχεδόν αποκλινουσα συμπεριφορά αρρηκτα δεμένη με τον ξεριζωμό τους, τις καταπιεσμένες μνήμες και αυτό που δεν έζ
...more
Jean-Paul Walshaw-Sauter
description

“Die Eisnbahn hatte für Paul eine tiefere Bedeutung. Wahrscheinlich schien es ihm immer, als führe sie in den Tod.”

This book left me feeling as if I had an eerie vacuum inside me. I have rarely been so deeply affected by any book as by W.G. Sebald's "Die Ausgewanderten". Memories came flooding back to me of the time I would spend with the Wiener Oma (Viennese grandmother) during my school holidays both in Summer and in Winter. She would visit us for long periods and while everyone was out at wor
...more
Douglas Dalrymple
This was my third Sebald novel (if “novel” is the word). It probably ought to have been my first, and I’d recommend it as a good introduction to Sebald’s special concerns and peculiar style. Those concerns: Memory, first of all, its collection and preservation, and its failure; exile in all its forms; the case of the German people, especially the post-war generation’s attempt to grasp their historical burden; the Holocaust and everything lost in the flames. That style: Cool and meditative, with ...more
Kelly
This was actually far better and more readable than Ring of Saturn, I thought. The last of the four stories did get a bit hung up on itself and I was expecting more of a tied finish, but there's no fault to find with the threads or the colors, and the piece on his elementary school teacher was truly touching and ranks up there with the best character profiles I've ever read. It's all poignant without being overwrought (again perhaps apart from the rather meandering final piece), it's striking im ...more
Szplug
Aug 02, 2010 Szplug rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
In my previous review for The Rings of Saturn I referred to Sebald's authorial style as that of a slow-burn blues; and this applies even more so to The Emigrants, where we are guided through the mists of memory by the cadenced, subdued pace of Sebald's narrative voice, only to be periodically wrenched out of beguiling reverie by the poignant, stinging cry of sustained bends and vibrato when important, necessary pieces of this haunting exile's puzzle are slipped into place - in nonchalant but s ...more
[P]
Apr 04, 2015 [P] rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
When I was a kid I thought that everyone was happier than me, that they felt connected to the world in a way that I did not. I experienced life as though I was behind glass, as though some barrier existed between me and the world that obscured, muffled, and distorted it. That wasn’t, as it is tempting to assume, a consequence of being raised in straightened circumstances - although I guess that did not help at all – it was something that was in me and has remained with me, at least in a diluted ...more
Dhanaraj Rajan
Initial Remark:

I completed reading the book yesterday. And I could not write an early review because I was emotionally very much disturbed by the questions/sentiments exposed by Sebald in the final pages.

Otherwise, it is a typical Sebald book with the usual themes of MEMORY, TRANSIENCE OF HUMAN NATURE, LONGING FOR THE PAST, HIDDEN LINKS THAT REGULARIZE LIFE, etc. The theme predominant throughout the book is MEMORY and it ends with a powerful question that touches on the theme of collective guil
...more
Eddie Watkins
Oct 08, 2014 Eddie Watkins rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: german-fiction
A beautiful book about deeply ingrained, even crippling, sadness, tragic death, and suicide. Rather than a novel it's more a suite of four tales whose logic as it progresses becomes increasingly more connotative and poetic, becoming finally in the last few pages a shuffling of evocative images that cleanse and invigorate as they further reveal deeper folds of abiding sadness in the world; a dark emptiness that is somehow fertile.

For Sebald the source of this fertility is memory. He will often pr
...more
Emilian Kasemi
Aug 20, 2014 Emilian Kasemi rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
You said: "I'll go to another country, go to another shore,
find another city better than this one.
Whatever I try to do is fated to turn out wrong
and my heart -like something dead- lies buried.
How long can I let my mind moulder in this place?
Wherever I turn, wherever I look,
I see the black ruins of my life, here,
where I've spent so many years, wasted them, destroyed them totally."

You won't find a new country, won't find another shore.
This city will always pursue you.
You'll walk the same streets,
...more
Emilian Kasemi
Aug 20, 2014 Emilian Kasemi rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

You said: "I'll go to another country, go to another shore,
find another city better than this one.
Whatever I try to do is fated to turn out wrong
and my heart -like something dead- lies buried.
How long can I let my mind moulder in this place?
Wherever I turn, wherever I look,
I see the black ruins of my life, here,
where I've spent so many years, wasted them, destroyed them totally."

You won't find a new country, won't find another shore.
This city will always pursue you.
You'll walk the same streets,
...more
Inderjit Sanghera
Two images flashed through my head when reading Sebald's 'The Emigrants'. The first one was a character's statement that reading his mother’s memoirs was like an evil German fairy tale that once you start reading, you have to carry on reading until your heart breaks; reading 'The Emigrants' is a lot like this, the second one was the constant reappearance of the author Vladimir Nabokov in each narrative; The Emigrants is the retelling of four seemingly disparate Jewish émigrés’ in the twentieth c ...more
Marilena.
Ειλικρινα δεν περίμενα ένα βιβλίο που αγγίζει θέματα όπως τη μετανάστευση,την μοναξιά και τον θάνατο,να αποδοθεί τόσο ξερά και μονοδιάστατα.Κακώς επηρεάστηκα απο την αδικαιολόγητα ψηλή βαθμολογία.
Υπερεκτιμημένο.
Jimmy
Aug 05, 2010 Jimmy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a book of 4 essays, each focusing on someone the author knew personally (a landlord, a teacher, a great uncle, an artist friend), all displaced emigrants, all fairly normal, but also very remarkable in ways that Sebald skillfully and subtly brings out. These are essays about history and fate and, often, the holocaust... which is wisely never mentioned directly. But its devastating effects permeate these pages like... like, a deadly gas (okay, bad analogy... sorry).

The other Sebald book I
...more
orsodimondo
Jan 24, 2015 orsodimondo rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: racconti, tedesca
Distruggete anche l’ultima cosa, il ricordo no.
Quattro racconti di cui il primo è il più corto e l’ultimo il più lungo, come se Sebald avesse dovuto acquistare confidenza in se stesso.
Quattro biografie, quattro incontri, quattro saggi di finzione, quattro espedienti per raccontare altro, e altro ancora, quattro storie e ricerche sull’orrore nazista e le sue conseguenze, quattro viaggi che diventano di più, quattro vite di persone che hanno lasciato la terra d’origine e si sono trasformati da
...more
Sam
Feb 14, 2011 Sam rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Worth reading back to back with the Rings of Saturn, to compare and contrast the narrative styles; in Rings of Saturn the discursiveness of the prose is given freer reign, and your enjoyment of the narrative corresponds to your tolerance for wandering wherever Sebald leads. (Not, in my opinion, a bad thing.) Although the Emigrants isn't quite as much of a bravura performance - slower, for lack of a better word, possessed of a nice sense of a pacing - it gives you more characterization to hang yo ...more
Pink
I'm conflicted about Sebald, on the one hand he captivates me with his writing, on the other, he never quite hits the mark and leaves me wanting more. This book comprised writings on four different emigrants, all part of Sebald's life to varying degrees. It felt very similar to his other book "On the natural history of destruction' as both were short pieces on German characters and essentially their lives after WW2. I think I might prefer a novel of his next time.
Jason Coleman
Jul 15, 2011 Jason Coleman rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: greatest-hits
Reviewing this exercise in minimal maximalism requires more concentration than I can muster at the moment (having just returned with the kids from the final Harry Potter movie--jesus, talk about hitting both ends of the spectrum). So just few thoughts:

This is a lyrical memoir very much along the lines of Nabokov's Speak, Memory (and, in an act of homage, Sebald gives the famous butterfly hunter a cameo appearance in each of his book's four sections), but whereas Nabokov seemed to believe he cou
...more
Audrey
Feb 03, 2010 Audrey rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The Emigrants fits perfectly with what I've read of Sebald's oeuvre. Through four biographical portraits, Sebald explores the experiences of people who have left, or been made to leave, their homelands. The narrator describes how the four have come into his life, how he came to hear their stories, or how he reconstructed them in their absence. He travels to their original homes and to significant stops along their journey to take pictures, to observe the buildings and streets that "...seem to me ...more
Trevor
Nov 06, 2012 Trevor rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
In The Emigrants time and space again contract as our narrator, whom I’ll call Sebald, traces the steps of the dead, going to their home, listening to or reading their stories, and — it’s beautiful — looking at their photographs, which are embedded in the text. And though in Vertigo Sebald managed to make everything very intimate, in The Emigrants the intimacy is much more intense. Yet still I’m reading about people I know nothing about; their experiences are not part of my heritage.

The Emigrant
...more
Lemar
Feb 24, 2015 Lemar rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: german-lit
A photograph can be a merciless thing. A time, a way of life, can continue to exist in memory and fiction but a photograph, by fixing a moment in time, can be a catalyst for mourning a time that is gone forever. Sebald's simple, honest prose amplifies this feeling. Sebald tells stories behind these photos that are remarkable mainly to those they depict and in so doing, by taking the time to expose simple human lives, he renders a devastating effect.
Bfisher
Jan 01, 2016 Bfisher rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: literature
The quality of the prose is astonishing, especially considering that it is a translation. Superficially, the unrelated stories of four individuals, everything is linked in a complex web of memory. For example, elements in Max Ferber's story answer the riddle of Paul Bereyter.
Ffiamma
May 08, 2015 Ffiamma rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: germanica, ebook
quattro storie di uomini che, per sfuggire alle persecuzioni o alla fame, sono andati via dal proprio paese di origine. quattro storie ondivaghe, di infelicità e ricordi, di passato che pian piano prende forma- attraverso frammenti, vecchie foto, diari, fogli sparsi. quattro storie in cui si tenta di elaborare un pezzo di storia tedesca mai accettato dall'autore e in cui viene reso omaggio a uno dei grandi emigrati della letteratura- vladimir nabokov, scrittore e cacciatore di farfalle. il tutto ...more
عمرو خيري
Mar 11, 2015 عمرو خيري rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
رواية واقعية بشكل صرف، بيحكي عن ناس من العائلة، وناس منّه.. واقعية لدرجة عرضه لصور في متن النص،وكأنه قاعد بيحكي لك من واقع البوم العيلة.. لكن بعد ما تمشي معاه شوية في الحكاية التانية بتكتشف تكوين عجيب بيعمله، او بتكتشف وجود تكوين عجيب منسوج من الواقعية ملوش علاقة بها، ومتفهمش ايه هو بالظبط. فيه سرّ ما في الحكايات، في إعادة بناء سيرته الذاتية من وقائع من يحكي عنهم.. شيء ورا ستار الكلام المباشر في منتهى الاصالة والتجديد.. معرفش في النقد بس شايف إنه بيقدم دم جديد للكتابة الواقعية، بيخليها متجاوزة و ...more
Antonis
Feb 17, 2015 Antonis rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: in-possession
Εξαιρετική ανάμιξη πραγματικότητας και μυθοπλασίας, αλλά η ανάδειξη του μπανάλ, του καθημερινού και του ασήμαντου σε κέντρο της αφήγησης από ένα σημείο και μετά αφαιρεί το ενδιαφέρον από την ανάγνωση...
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Winfried Georg Maximilian Sebald was a German writer and academic. His works are largely concerned with the themes of memory and loss of memory (both personal and collective) and decay (of civilizations, traditions or physical objects). They are, in particular, attempts to reconcile himself with, and deal in literary terms with, the trauma of the Second World War and its effect on the German peopl ...more
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“The seasons and the years came and went...and always...one was, as the crow flies, about 2,000 km away - but from where? - and day by day hour by hour, with every beat of the pulse, one lost more and more of one's qualities, became less comprehensible to oneself, increasingly abstract.” 9 likes
“Memory, he added in a postscript, often strikes me as a kind of a dumbness. It makes one's head heavy and giddy, as if one were not looking back down the receding perspectives of time but rather down from a great height, from one of those towers whose tops are lost to view in the clouds” 8 likes
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