Jeremy's Reviews > Austerlitz

Austerlitz by W.G. Sebald
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's review
Jul 19, 2014

it was amazing
bookshelves: german-literature

While I think I liked 'The Rings of Saturn and 'The Emigrants' slightly better, Austerlitz is still a somber, stunning meditation on memory, loss and erasure. Sebald's writing has an incredibly deft touch, other authors would just bludgeon you over the head with the horrors of European destruction, but his exploration of forgotten or overlooked spaces and marginal lives feels so much 'realer' somehow than a more traditional focus on major monolithic events and persons. I've been to several of the places he mentions in Austerlitz, and I found myself chilled each time he so agonizingly described what the physical place was like and how its history bled in with the present. Sebald makes you reconsider the physical world around you, not with cheap rhetorical flourishes or forced juxtapositions, but by lingering gently over what had been lost and left over to us from the past. The innocuous photographs he brilliantly incorporates into his work take on a stunning radiance that feel all the more reel for how fragile they are. It's like watching light and shadow play over an old lace curtain.
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