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The Rings of Saturn

4.27  ·  Rating details ·  8,034 Ratings  ·  821 Reviews

Shortlisted for the 1998 Los Angeles Times Book Award in Fiction: "Stunning and strange . . . Sebald has done what every writer dreams of doing. . . . The book is like a dream you want to last forever. . . . It glows with the radiance and resilience of the human spirit."—Roberta Silman, The New York Times Book Review

a record of a journey on foot through coastal
Kindle Edition, 308 pages
Published April 17th 1999 by New Directions (first published 1995)
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Paul Bryant
Oct 11, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: novels

In the autumn of 1993 I undertook a walking tour of Sherwood high street in the folorn hope of throwing off a sense of crepuscular ennui which enfolds me whenever I complete one of my walking tours. As I made my way up drab Haydn Road, an epitome of suburban English squalidness, I observed a man walking a dog which could only be a Labrador. The Portuguese explorer-merchants Joao Fernandes and Pero de Bercelos named the land and the canine variety unknowingly in 1500 in a cartographical inexactit
Dec 04, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: tedesca
C’è un viandante che negli anni Novanta del secolo scorso se ne va a piedi attraverso la contea di Suffolk, in East Anglia, che non è proprio il primo posto che viene voglia di visitare nel Regno Unito di Gran Bretagna (è però il primo posto da dove partivano gli aerei alleati che andavano a bombardare a tappeto la Germania nazista, come racconta lo stesso Sebald in Storia naturale della distruzione).
Come si vede nella magnifica foto riproposta in copertina, calza sti
May 05, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
2nd read. One of my sacred texts. Maybe Sebald's masterpiece. One of those "if you don't like this book well that's on you, not the book, buddy" deals. Everything he does done damn near perfect pitch. As capitalist consumerist ethics and technology-dulled sensory blight inexorably infect all regions and human terrains, and even the way we map those terrains, and even more so how we think about and conceive of mapping those terrains, I will retreat happily away into realms of pure words and sound ...more
Apr 11, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ideas, travel
This is a strange and melancholy journey, not really through Suffolk but through Sebald's mind. With poetry and pathos he narrates a wandering, but not random, series of extended meditations inspired by history and memory, local geography and phenomena, people he meets or sees on television, books he's read. We begin and end with Thomas Browne, moving in between from translation to experimentation, from Roger Casement to Dutch Elm Disease to the Troubles. We also return at times to the hospital ...more
This is the third travel memoir I've read* where an author spends time walking around the British Isles and yet, during their journey, seems to spend the majority of their time thinking about somethings, any-things, that are quite different.

When this thought first occurred to me, it made me laugh and think that perhaps Albion should be offended. But, given the books in question and what these literary rambles inspired, I think there really is no choice but to be flattered.

In the early 1990s, Seb
Feb 23, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Antonomasia by: Mookse March Madness tournament of books
So it turned out that I was going to get round to reading more Sebald (after Austerlitz, over three years ago), and it was going to be this one. And, unlike Austerlitz, which is incontrovertibly a novel, to read this was to experience the ur-text of what's meant by Sebaldian: vast, controlled digression, the lists, the descriptions, melancholic polymathic butterfly flitting from global to local history; travel writing, memoir, nature, biography (especially of fellow eccentrics with diverse inter ...more
Sep 07, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
La realtà parla

Un libro strano, difficile, faticoso e bellissimo: non solo parole, pensieri, riflessioni ma, per tenerci ancorati alla realtà, anche fotografie a formare un tutt’uno col testo. Sebald cammina, si guarda intorno, osserva, e ogni cosa su cui posa lo sguardo diventa spunto narrativo, colore, profumo, memoria, malinconia… la realtà prende vita sotto il suo sguardo, parla, si svela dentro una miriade di storie diverse, le più disparate e insolite, narrate minuziosamente o appena abboz
Can't wait:

It was difficult to imagine the holidaymakers and commercial travelers who would want to stay there, nor was it easy…to recognize the Albion as the “hotel on the promenade of a superior description” recommended in my guidebook, which had been published shortly after the turn of the century.

Of course this connoisseur of desuetude, this dreamer on oblivion, tramps about with a lapsed guide book. The better to savor what’s disappeared from the land
Apr 08, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Ted by: James
In the end I was overcome by a feeling of panic. The low, leaden sky; the sickly violet hue of the heath clouding the eye; the silence, which rushed in the ears like the sound of the sea in a shell; the flies buzzing about me – all this became oppressive and unnerving.

… the signpost left by the author says Dunwich heath

A travelogue? Perhaps. We read of the narrator's perambulations around, through, along – but also simply ruminating on – places to be found mostly in Suffolk, the English county
Sep 10, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I romanzi di W.G.Sebald assomigliano a quella scena di “Madame Bovary”, in cui Emma e il suo amante vengono scarrozzati per la città, dopo aver tirato rigorosamente le tendine davanti alla loro intimità, da un cocchiere stanco e sudato a cui è stato ordinato di procedere senza direzione, e che non sa dove andare, ed è smarrito di fronte a quella insolenza. La letteratura di Sebald procede al ritmo di una carrozza reticente in cui si consumano forse passioni sfrenate, e noi, cocchieri spaesati, e ...more
Teresa Proença
"A linha que separa o bem do mal cruza o coração de cada ser humano. E quem pode destruir um pedaço do seu coração?"
Alexander Soljenítsin

Como todo o leitor merece ler Os Anéis De Saturno e sei que palavras minhas não serão suficientes para vos fazer acreditar nele, transcrevo, do meu exemplar d'A Herança Perdida, alguns excertos (adaptados) do ensaio de James Wood, intitulado A Incerteza de W. G. Sebald, escrito dois anos antes da morte de Sebald:

Aug 16, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Ένα βιβλίο που δύσκολα μπορεί να καταταχθεί σε κάποια συγκεκριμένη κατηγορία. Ένα οδοιπορικό στην σύγχρονη νοτιοανατολική Αγγλία όπου η κάθε περιοχή, το κάθε ακρωτήριο, η κάθε πόλη και η κάθε έπαυλη κρύβει μια ιστορία από το παρελθόν την οποία ο Sebald ξετυλίγει αριστοτεχνικά με μια γήινη, απαλή και ζεστή γραφή που μαλακώνει την ψυχή.
Ο χρόνος είναι ο βασικός πρωταγωνιστής που στο πέρασμά του μεταμορφώνει τα πάντα, άλλοτε εξυψώνοντάς τα και άλλοτε βυθίζοντάς τα στην παρακμή, στην εγκατάλειψη και
Mar 16, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: readers who like meditation & significant stimulation
Recommended to John by: Alexander Hemon
The epigraph informs us that the "rings" of the 6th planet are in fact nothing but rubble. Worse, I can't think of any recent work of imagination -- Sebald published during the 1990s -- that so exposes the wreckage that inevitably results from our strutting & fretting hour on the stage. RINGS is all about wreckage, w/ one quiet, unsettling meditation on destroyed worlds after another, linked by nothing more than a vacation walkabout one August in the Sussex countryside. It's an odyssey w/out ...more
Apr 23, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: in-german
My second outing with Sebald turns out to be a fairly similar experience to the first. His writing is hallucinatory, meditative, ruminative, pondering; it is hard to read without your own mind wandering off into fields of its own, and then returning to the page to find that you're in a new place, new time, and not quite sure how you got there. It feels like those days of fever when you listen to the radio and drift off in between times, re-awakening to find that the documentary you were listenin ...more
Nov 01, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: alemanha, bib-l
"...que seria de nós sem recordações? Não seríamos capazes de ordenar sequer os mais simples pensamentos, o coração mais sensível perderia a capacidade de se cativar por outro coração, a nossa existência nao passaria de uma interminável sucessão de momentos sem sentido, o passado não deixaria rasto."

Não sendo um livro de viagens, é uma viagem pelas memórias melancólicas do narrador, um périplo através de histórias que se sucedem harmoniosamente, ora emocionantes, ora terrificas, ora simplesmente
Jan 03, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Il coraggio che non ho

“Ho camminato per quasi quattro ore e non ho visto altro, sino alla linea dell'orizzonte, che campi di grano tutti già mietuti, ho visto il cielo, carico di nuvole basse, e le fattorie, a due o tre miglia di distanza l'una dall'altra, per lo più circondate da un'aureola di alberi. Non ho incontrato un solo veicolo mentre avanzavo su quel rettilineo apparentemente infinito, e non sapevo né allora né so oggi se quel mio solitario incedere fosse per me benefico o tormentoso. A
Justin Evans
Nobody can accuse me of not trying to understand the appeal of WGS to so many trustworthy readers, but for the life of me, I can't come up with a good reason for his popularity. This review is a really a group review of 'Rings,' 'Emigrants,' 'Campo Santo,' and and Lynn Sharon Schwartz's 'The Emergence of Memory.' I'm putting it under 'Rings,' because this is certainly the best book of Sebald's that I read.

I've asked people why they think Sebald is popular. One fairly broad response was: his wor
Update February 22, 2011:

I just re-read this book a few days ago and reading back on my initial impression of Sebald is both humbling and embarrassing. I kind of missed the point, didn't I?

I still see what I was saying back then, and think you have to either be in a certain mood or be willing to be enchanted into that mood in order to fall in love with this work. Nevertheless, I am glad I didn't give up on him and moved on to read his entire works. This book, on second read, is the least memoir-
Aug 04, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: german
a feeling of repetition ... a peculiar numbness like a grammophone repeatedly playing the same sequence of notes ... Repeatedly I felt as if I were lying in a traumatic fever in some kind of field hospital ...

Sebald's words, not mine. But apt.

Perhaps it's Summer. The tomatoes are ripening but stinkbugs and a chipmunk are fighting me for the harvest. The local nine have teased me after 18 losing seasons but they can not beat the Brewers ever and sometimes not even the Cubs. A new iphone beckons w
Nov 07, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I read this twice, seperated by a most important decade. The second reading was in the early days of our new house. Terms like haunted are often misused, but there is a sense that Sebald elevates the ghosts of maladaption and legacy to a momentary viewing, however stilted.

New homes and a safely surveyed life often prove to be mixed wagers. Sebald grounds one in the quotidian. Even as he unnerves with a passing query, a nagging thorn of dissociation. Commerce and legacy are tainted. The inherito
Peter Boyle
Hmmm, how to describe The Rings of Saturn... Is it a travelogue? Is it a work of fiction, or is it part-memoir? Is it an exploration of history? Well, it is all of these things and more. To be perfectly honest, I've never read anything quite like it.

The book consists of a walk along the Suffolk coast of England, and the many observations that the unnamed narrator makes on his journey. These digressions are quite amazing in their erudition and detail. For example, on the narrator's stay in Southw
Jun 03, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I’m attempting something new: a real-time review, folks! I’m recording my thoughts as I move along this gorgeous book. Only 20-pages in, I’m captivated by the clarity of the labyrinthine sentences. They’re mesmeric. This is lovely.

Page 42: Still flawlessly written, if gyratory.

Page 117: These chapters are concentric circles.

Aug 05, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Sebald è ipnotico. Da una riflessione banale su di un canneto arriviamo alla vita di Conrad, ai massacri cinesi, alle rovine di possidenti inglesi, alla letteratura piu' alta. Con un tono che raramente ho sentito più gentile, e colto, e raffinato, conduce in una avventura peripatetica che potrebbe durare giorni e giorni senza provare fatica. In mezzo a questo, il senso della naturale distruzione dell'umanità, che non potrebbe essere più lieve ed ovvio. Sopra tutto, una intelligenza inquieta e pr ...more
May 14, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Sebald, who is and isn't the narrator of the memory trek called The Rings of Saturn, early on describes the contemplative methodology of the seventeenth century (meta)physician Sir Thomas Browne: he therefore sought to look upon earthly existence, from the things that were closest to him to the spheres of the universe, with the eye of an outsider, one might even say of the creator. This detached and potentially demiurgical approach serves Sebald admirably as he recalls a previous perambulation t ...more
May 11, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2012, taking-the-piss
A travelogue of East Anglia interspersed with random ‘musi-cons’: digressions covering ostensibly unrelated historical events but with an underlying theme of the capacity for human destruction and ‘laying to waste’.

I was really, really, going for it, until a certain moment, my ‘event horizon’, and then, I wasn’t. The book didn’t take I turn: I did. Perhaps unfair prejudice and resentment overwhelmed me and I went over to the ‘dark side’.

I will confess to being an ignoramus: I didn’t know the fir

Well, I'm quite pleased to finally know what all the fuss is about over Sebald. I will be reading more of him for certain. His perambulatory narrative, couched in an irresistibly digressive style, captivated me immediately. Gladly I followed him down an ever-extending prosaic warren peopled with delightfully eccentric historical figures and chock full of anecdotes that he may or may not properly recall all the details of but are fascinating nonetheless (and did not particularly compel me to fact
Indeed, in historiography, the indisputable advantage of a fictitious past have become apparent: secondary or tertiary worlds as imagined in Tlön, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius manifest themselves from the ideas and representations of the world onto the physical world itself. In the final analysis, says a voice in The Rings of Saturn, our entire work is based upon nothing but ideas. Yet these ideas – or representations – are flimsy as film, and they change over the years and which time and time again cau ...more
What a strange yet sublime work.

Limpid, lucid, uncategorizable, learned, lovely, reverent, informative, dreamlike, dark, deep, addictive, poetic, Meaningful, unique, seductive....

Here's a part of a small paper I did on this book for a class a couple of years ago. I've been meaning to add this, since I really loved and was provoked by this book...


I intended to write this essay about Waiting For The Barbarians and how the Magistrate’s story is tied in to the desire to become an authentic self. The Magistrate, after a life
M.D. Curzon
Jan 14, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
'The Rings of Saturn' is a book that stays with you. The fact that I find myself thinking so much about it, long after reading, seems ironic, given that Sebald's focus is on 'impermanence'. In taking what seems to be a meandering walking holiday in East Anglia, the author describes places and people that have now faded into obscurity, but held great importance in their day. From the town that literally fell into the sea, to the great dreams and schemes that have been lost to history, Sebald desc ...more
Adam Dalva
Jul 09, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It's an accumulative work - the associative connections grow as you read and the novel (or is it a novel?) only reveals itself structurally late in the game. I went through it slowly at first, but it is oddly exciting for something that is essentially a combination of linked essays, long walks, and landscape descriptions. But: great essays, great walks, and great landscape descriptions. The use of photographs really help. There are a few sections - Holderlin, the dilapidated Irish manor, Conrad ...more
Despoina Despoina
Το πρώτο βιβλίο του Sebald που διάβασα, η γνωριμία μου μαζί του, ήταν σαν να άνοιξε μια πόρτα και μπήκα σέναν άλλο κόσμο. Πώς υπήρχαν τόσα χρόνια τα βιβλία του στα ελληνικά και δεν τον ήξερα; Τον βάζω στους 5 πιο αγαπημένους μου συγγραφείς για τον τρόπο που σκέφτεται και τον τρόπο που γράφει. ...more
Dhanaraj Rajan
Reason for Five Stars

This book gave me a different literary experience. I began the book expecting something and ended up with many surprises. I began the book thinking of it as a piece of literature related to travel. But the book had much in store for me - history, biography, literary criticism, art criticism, science, photography, natural history, etc.

Later I found that this book is normally defined as: Combining the details of a walking tour with meditations prompted by places and people enc
Nov 01, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Ambling along England’s eastern Suffolk coast, Sebald wanders from inward reverie through outward reverie exploring any and all directions connected to the landscape traversed. I can honestly say I have never encountered a book quite like this. Part travelogue, part historical meditation, part (non?-) fictional memoir. The carefully researched historical vignettes interweave with eloquent reflections of a personal nature. Dreams, war, history and disappointment all bleed into each other, paintin ...more
Aug 27, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: uk
Anelli concentrici sull’acqua
Quale lettura migliore, dopo Le lune di Giove (potrei continuare con Il delta di Venere e Sotto i venti di Nettuno: La luna e i falò l’ho già letto). Accompagniamo Sebald nel suo viaggio a piedi lungo la costa del Suffolk, attraversando brughiere e località balneari sul mare del Nord spazzate dai venti. Winfried intanto ci racconta paesaggi, persone ed eventi, come una battaglia navale che si svolse nella baia alla quale siamo arrivati, la flotta olandese che esce in
Jul 27, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
sebald bütün dünyayı, dünyadaki her şeyi anlatmak için yazmış sanki. doğa, tarih, insanlık, her şey. her şeyi olabilecek en kısa ve en hızlı biçimde ortaya koymanın yollarını aramış. bunun için edebiyatın imkanlarını zorlamış, geçmişle geleceği, gerçekle kurmacayı iç içe geçirmiş, metinler arasında, disiplinler arasında gidip gelmiş. nihayetinde hatırlayıp hatırlatarak, bilgilendirerek ve hayal ederek ortaya koyduğu karışımın/toplamın "roman" çatısında toplanması, roman için yeni bir tanım ve an ...more
"Gli anelli di Saturno" di W. G. Sebald è un libro particolare dalla difficile collocazione in una determinata categoria in quanto è più un'avventura intellettuale che un vero e proprio romanzo. Sebald in questo libro del 1995 racconta di un suo viaggio (o pellegrinaggio in Inghilterra, come lo chiama nel sottotitolo) nel Suffolk, Inghilterra orientale fatto alcuni anni prima e ogni pagine, ogni frase è ricca di ricordi, assonanze, rimandi ad una serie di notizie concetti culturali e sociali che ...more
Sentimental Surrealist
Above all, the Rings of Saturn is very good at being itself and forcing us readers, or at least this reader, to judge it on its own terms and its own terms only - the conventional talk of character arc, &c. doesn't apply here. That doesn't necessarily have to be praise, depending on the type of reader you are, but for me it certainly is. The conflict here doesn't so much escalate in the classic way of things, the character walks and observes and narrates and doesn't really change, and yet th ...more
Apr 23, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2014
Probably his most known work, Sebald’s The Ring of Saturn shows a mixture of scholarly writing and descriptive photography with a lexicon of words that may seem a bit verbose or may be described as loquacious in nature and is not for the most casual reader; it takes an amount of focus on what is being said and how our nameless narrator’s portrayal of history of past and present in reference to its corresponding areas as he travels by foot mostly (except on certain occasions by truck or bus), on ...more
Ben Winch
Sep 07, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
About 100 pages into The Rings of Saturn, in speaking of human rights activist and Irish martyr Roger Casement and his involvement in the Belgian Congo, W. G. Sebald writes:
In order to pre-empt any petitions for pardon that might have been made by persons of influence, excerpts from what was known as the Black Diary, a kind of chronicle of the accused’s homosexual relations found when Casement’s home was searched, were forwarded to the King of England, the President of the United States, and the
Adam Floridia
Robert Silman of The New York Times writes “Stunning and strange…like a dream you want to last forever.” Change “dream” to “nightmare,” and I think he’s got a point. The book is teeming with “scenes of destruction, mutilation, desecration, starvation, conflagration, and freezing cold” (94). Despite this, I would still describe it as a pleasant read.

It’s probably best suited for those interested in history, trivia, or just beautiful writing. While ostensibly recounting a long country stroll taken
Nov 05, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 1995
The first W.G. Sebald book I heard of was The Rings of Saturn (tr. by Michael Hulse). Something in the tone of the recommendation and the title of the book made me start to imagine how the book would feel and how I would feel about it — you’ve been there too. I tried to avoid such imaginings, but with all of its positive criticism it was hard to hold back my expectations.

When I began reading The Rings of Saturn I knew next to nothing about the book. Sure, I knew that it was structured as as wal
Dragos C Butuzea
Mar 16, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
sebald, un autor de cărți cult

am decis să recitesc câteva cărți ale autorilor contemporani favoriți - așa că, după 2 ani de la apariție, am recitit a doua carte tradusă din opera autorului german winfried georg sebald - autor cult pentru conaisseuri livrești.
asta după citisem prin 2010 - ȘOCAT! - capodopera sa, austerlitz, despre care am scris imediat entuziast aici.

sebald atrage cititorul în pânza de păianjen a poveștii autobiografice. apoi începe să te înfășoare cu alte povești enciclopedice,
In het Vlaamse tv-programma Alleen Elvis blijft bestaan wordt een diepgaand gesprek opgebouwd aan de hand van beeldfragmenten die de gast van die avond geselecteerd heeft. De uitzending gisteren eindigde met de opmerking van zanger-tekstschrijver Frank Vander linden dat de fragmenten die hij had uitgekozen allen bleken te gaan over het vastleggen van iets. Vastleggen om te bewaren. En hoezeer dat archiveren met de tijdsgeest verbonden blijkt.

Wanneer ik besprekingen lees over Sebalds ringen van
Jul 29, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Here as my review is a blogpost I wrote about the Sebald book in a blog devoted to writings about my book-in-progress, A Certain Gesture: Evnine's Batman Meme Project and Its Parerga!:

Other voices

I have previously indicated that the spirit of W.G. Sebald’s The Rings of Saturn hovers over my own efforts in A Certain Gesture: Evnine’s Batman Meme Project and Its Parerga!. I first read the Sebald six or seven years ago. In the course of his loosely connected, almost free associative, wanderings fro
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All About Books: The Rings of Saturn by W.G. Sebald (Dhanaraj & Jenny) 72 52 Jul 05, 2014 11:53AM  
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Winfried Georg Maximilian Sebald was a German writer and academic. His works are largely concerned with the themes of memory, loss of memory, and identity (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 G ...more
“But the fact is that writing is the only way in which I am able to cope with the memories which overwhelm me so frequently and so unexpectedly. If they remained locked away, they would become heavier and heavier as time went on, so that in the end I would succumb under their mounting weight. Memories lie slumbering within us for months and years, quietly proliferating, until they are woken by some trifle and in some strange way blind us to life. How often this has caused me to feel that my memories, and the labours expended in writing them down are all part of the same humiliating and, at bottom, contemptible business! And yet, what would we be without memory? We would not be capable of ordering even the simplest thoughts, the most sensitive heart would lose the ability to show affection, our existence would be a mere neverending chain of meaningless moments, and there would not be the faintest trace of a past. How wretched this life of ours is!--so full of false conceits, so futile, that it is little more than the shadow of the chimeras loosed by memory. My sense of estrangement is becoming more and more dreadful.” 78 likes
“Perhaps we all lose our sense of reality to the precise degree to which we are engrossed in our own work, and perhaps that is why we see in the increasing complexity of our mental constructs a means for greater understanding, even while intuitively we know that we shall never be able to fathom the imponderables that govern our course through life.” 45 likes
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