Austerlitz Quotes

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Austerlitz Austerlitz by W.G. Sebald
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Austerlitz Quotes (showing 1-30 of 32)
“It seems to me then as if all the moments of our life occupy the same space, as if future events already existed and were only waiting for us to find our way to them at last, just as when we have accepted an invitation we duly arrive in a certain house at a given time.”
W.G. Sebald, Austerlitz
tags: time
“We take almost all the decisive steps in our lives as a result of slight inner adjustments of which we are barely conscious.”
W.G. Sebald, Austerlitz
“Only in the books written in earlier times did she sometimes think she found some faint idea of what it might be like to be alive.”
W.G. Sebald, Austerlitz
“...the darkness does not lift but becomes yet heavier as I think how little we can hold in mind, how everything is constantly lapsing into oblivion with every extinguished life, how the world is, as it were, draining itself, in that the history of countless places and objects which themselves have no power or memory is never heard, never described or passed on.”
W.G. Sebald, Austerlitz
“At the most we gaze at it in wonder, a kind of wonder which in itself is a form of dawning horror, for somehow we know by instinct that outsize buildings cast the shadow of their own destruction before them, and are designed from the first with an eye to their later existence as ruins.”
W.G. Sebald, Austerlitz
“No one can explain exactly what happens within us when the doors behind which our childhood terrors lurk are flung open.”
W.G. Sebald, Austerlitz
“How happily, said Austerlitz, have I sat over a book in the deepening twilight until I could no longer make out the words and my mind began to wander, and how secure have I felt seated at the desk in my house in the dark night, just watching the tip of my pencil in the lamplight following its shadow, as if of its own accord and with perfect fidelity, while that shadow moved regularly from left to right, line by line, over the ruled paper.”
W.G. Sebald, Austerlitz
“It does not seem to me, Austerlitz added, that we understand the laws governing the return of the past, but I feel more and more as if time did not exist at all, only various spaces interlocking according to the rules of a higher form of stereometry, between which the living and the dead can move back and forth as they like, and the longer I think about it the more it seems to me that we who are still alive are unreal in the eyes of the dead, that only occasionally, in certain lights and atmospheric conditions, do we appear in their field of vision.”
W.G. Sebald, Austerlitz
“All my green places are lost to me, she once said, adding that only now did she truly understand how wonderful it is to stand by the rail of a river steamer without a care in the world.”
W.G. Sebald, Austerlitz
“…the longer I think about it the more it seems to me that we who are still alive are unreal in the eyes of the dead, that only occasionally, in certain lights and atmospheric conditions, do we appear in their field of vision.”
W.G. Sebald, Austerlitz
tags: death, life
“I felt that the decrepit state of these once magnificent buildings, with their broken gutters, walls blackened by rainwater, crumbling plaster revealing the coarse masonry beneath it, windows boarded up or clad with corrugated iron, precisely reflected my own state of mind...”
W.G. Sebald, Austerlitz
“Had I realized at the time that for Austerlitz certain moments had no beginning or end, while on the other hand his whole life had sometimes seemed to him a blank point without duration, I would probably have waited more patiently.”
W.G. Sebald, Austerlitz
tags: time
“They were all as timeless as that moment of rescue, perpetuated but forever just occurring, these ornaments, utensils, and mementos stranded in the Terazín bazaar, objects that for reasons one could never know had outlived their former owners and survived the process of destruction, so that I could now see my own faint shadow image barely perceptible among them.”
W.G. Sebald, Austerlitz
“Otherwise, all I remember of the denizens of the Nocturama is that several of them had strikingly large eyes, and the fixed inquiring gaze found in certain painters and philosophers who seek to penetrate the darkness which surrounds us purely by means of looking and thinking.”
W.G. Sebald, Austerlitz
“It was only by following the course time prescribed that we could hasten through the gigantic spaces separating us from each other.”
W.G. Sebald, Austerlitz
“Like a tightrope walker who has forgotten how to put one foot in front of the other, all I felt was the swaying of the precarious structure on which I stood, stricken with Terror at the realization that the ends of the balancing pole gleaming far out on the edges of my field of vision were no longer my guiding lights, as before, but malignant enticements to me to cast myself into the depths.”
W.G. Sebald, Austerlitz
“I examined every detail under a magnifying glass without once finding the slightest clue. And in doing so I always felt the piercing inquiring gaze of the page boy who had come to demand his dues, who was waiting in the gray light of dawn on the empty field for me to accept the challenge and avert the misfortune lying ahead of him.”
W.G. Sebald, Austerlitz
“From the outset my main concern was with the shape and the self-contained nature of discrete things, the curve of banisters on a staircase, the molding of a stone arch over a gateway, the tangled precision of the blades in a tussock of dried grass.”
W.G. Sebald, Austerlitz
“I believe, said Austerlitz, they know they have lost their way, since if you do not put them out again carefully they will stay where they are, never moving, until the last breath is out of their bodies and indeed they will remain in the place where they came to grief even after death, held fast by the tiny claws that stiffened in their last agony, until a draft of air detaches them and blows them into a dusty corner.”
W.G. Sebald, Austerlitz
“The trails of light which they [moths] seemed to leave behind them in all kinds of curlicues and streamers and spirals..., did not really exist, explained Alphonso, but were merely phantom tracks created by the sluggish reaction of the human eye ,appearing to see a certain afterglow in the place from which the insect itself, shining for only the fraction of a second in the lamplight, had already gone. It was such unreal phenomena, said Alphonso, the sudden incursion of unreality into the real world, certain effects of light in the landscape spread out before us, or in the eye of a beloved person, that kindled our deepest feelings, or at least what we took for them.”
W.G. Sebald, Austerlitz
“...to this day there is something illusionistic and illusory about the relationship of time and space as we experience it in traveling, which is why whenever we come home from elsewhere we never feel quite sure if we have really been abroad.”
W.G. Sebald, Austerlitz
“In my photographic work I was always especially entranced, said Austerlitz, by the moment when the shadows of reality, so to speak, emerge out of nothing on the exposed paper, as memories do in the middle of the night, darkening again if you try to cling to them, just like a photographic print left in the developing bath too long.”
W.G. Sebald, Austerlitz
“I remember to this day how easily I could grasp what he called his tentative ideas when he talked about the architectural style of the capitalist era, a subject which he said had fascinated him since his own student days, speaking in particular of the compulsive sense of order and the tendency towards monumentalism evident in law courts and penal institutions, railway stations and stock exchanges, opera houses and lunatic asylums, and the dwelling built to rectangular grid patterns for the labor force.”
W.G. Sebald, Austerlitz
“...I remembered the story Evan the cobbler had told me, about the two headstreams of Dwy Fawr and Dwy Fach which are said to flow right through the lake, far down in its dark depths, never mingling their waters with its own. The two rivers, according to Evan, said Austerlitz, were called after the only human beings not drowned but saved from the biblical deluge in the distant past.”
W.G. Sebald, Austerlitz
“Op de voorgrond, dicht bij de rechterhand van het schilderij, is een dame ten val gekomen. Ze draagt en kanariegele jurk; de cavalier die zich bezorgd over haar heen buigt een rode, in het vale licht zeer opvallende broek. Als ik nu naar die rivier kijk, zei Austerlitz, en aan dat schilderij met zijn kleine figuurtjes denk, heb ik het gevoel dat het door Lucas van Valckenborch weergegeven ogenblik nooit voorbij is gegaan, dat de kanariegele dame pas zojuist is gevallen of bewusteloos geraakt, dat haar zwartfluwelen muts net pas naast haar hoofd is gerold, dat het kleine ongeluk waaraan de meeste beschouwers ongetwijfeld voorbijzien, telkens opnieuw gebeurt, dat het nooit meer ophoudt en door niets en niemand meer goed te maken valt.”
W.G. Sebald, Austerlitz
“And might it not be, continued Austerlitz, that we also have appointments to keep in the past, in what has gone before and is for the most part extinguished, and must go there in search of places and people who have some connection with us on the far side of time, so to speak?”
W.G. Sebald, Austerlitz
“Und wer weiß, sagte Austerlitz, vielleicht träumen auch die Motten oder der Kopfsalat im Garten, wenn er zum Mond hinaufblickt in der Nacht.”
W.G. Sebald, Austerlitz
“Our concern with history...is a concern with preformed images already imprinted in our brains, images at which we keep staring while the truth lies elsewhere, away from it all, somewhere as yet undiscovered.”
W.G. Sebald, Austerlitz
“...and Věra said that every time we reached the page which described the snow falling through the branches of the trees, soon to shroud the entire forest floor, I would look up at her and ask: But if it's all white, how do the squirrels know where they've buried their hoard?... Those were your very words, the question which constantly troubled you. How indeed do the squirrels know, what do we know ourselves, how do we remember, and what it is we find in the end?”
W.G. Sebald, Austerlitz
“However much or little I had written, on a subsequent reading it always seemed so fundamentally flawed that I had to destroy it immediately and begin again.”
W.G. Sebald, Austerlitz

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