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Austerlitz

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4.04  ·  Rating details ·  10,150 Ratings  ·  860 Reviews
Austerlitz, the internationally acclaimed masterpiece by “one of the most gripping writers imaginable” (The New York Review of Books), 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, one Jacques Aus-terlitz is told nothing of his real family by the Welsh Methodist ...more
Paperback, 298 pages
Published September 3rd 2002 by Modern Library (first published November 6th 2001)
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Tom Well, there is one 9-page-sentence, but I reckon most native speakers have to re-read that one several times as well ;-)
But if need be, be kind on…more
Well, there is one 9-page-sentence, but I reckon most native speakers have to re-read that one several times as well ;-)
But if need be, be kind on yourself and be patient. Take your time with this novel. It's an absolute gem.(less)

Community Reviews

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David
Apr 10, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Of all the kinds of reviews to write, the ecstatically enthusiastic ones are the worst, I think. No matter how much you try to pepper your review with big words and thoughtful commentary, you inevitably end up sounding like a gum-chomping tween girl squealing the paint off the walls about some boy band that looks like it should be directed to a hormone therapy ward.

Being openly enthusiastic about virtually anything can be tough—because it makes you vulnerable. It's like this: in a moment of wea
...more
Violet wells
Feb 18, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: holocaust
There’s something reminiscent of an archaeological dig about Austerlitz – the quest to piece back together a missing life by sifting through layers of the past. The finds often appearing random and impenetrable until eventually a cypher is discovered.

Austerlitz reads like the autobiography of an academic, recounted in instalments to the stranger he repeatedly meets in various locations, who has lived a hermetic and fruitless life. You’re never quite sure if you’re reading biography or fiction,
...more
orsodimondo
Sep 13, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: tedesca
TOUTE LA MÉMOIRE DU MONDE
Di fronte a pagine monolitiche, prive di interruzioni e a capo, con periodi lunghi, ricerca del dettaglio e frequenti digressioni, ci si può perdere: ma non qui.
Le fotografie, bellissime, spezzano la lettura: e più ci si avvicina alla fine e più sembra che aumentino e compaiano anche le prime interruzioni, i primi spazi bianchi: proprio quando il libro sta per finire, e io non lo volevo affatto lasciare, volevo che continuasse, senza sosta.
C’è ancora tanta memoria del
...more
Geoff
Dec 13, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
”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… 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?”

I have trouble writing about Sebald. I read Th
...more
Michael Finocchiaro
W. G. Sebald's Austerlitz is an austere but beautiful narrative within a narrative about identity and loss with the Holocaust as a looming backdrop. The narrator (unnamed) records conversations with Joseph (Jacques) Austerlitz whom he meets a few times by chance and later at the whim of Austerlitz. This secondary narrator talks about his life before discovering his origins and the incredible quest across the Czech Republic, Germany, and France to find memories of his mother and father. There wer ...more
Pantelis
Sep 04, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
W.G Sebald was a master psychogeographer (I refer you to my future reviews of Vertigo and The Rings of Saturn).... But Max will also be remembered as an historian of amnesia, of individual and collective amnesia towards individual and collective history. Austerlitz is a narrative about the end of this amnesia, a narrative about discovering the past, about acquiring a memory. Sebald recorded the end of his generation's amnesia, a condition that lasted at least until the late Nineties. The Cold Wa ...more
Warwick
Austerlitz fascinated me, but I couldn't say I loved it. Reading this book gave me the feeling of being jet-lagged somewhere in a strange city at three o'clock in the morning, having strange revelations that would seem bizarre in the daylight. Not a feeling I dislike, by any means. Sebald's attempts to find a prose style to match his explorations of memory and loss are beautiful and haunting, but for me at least the effect was more soporific than exhilarating. Maybe ‘hypnotic’ is a better word. ...more
Το Άσχημο Ρύζι Καρολίνα
Διάβασα σε αυτό το μυθιστόρημα, την τρίτη πιο συναισθηματικά φορτισμένη φράση, που έχω συναντήσει ποτέ σε λογοτεχνικό έργο. Η πρώτη είναι η αρχή του θρήνου της Αντιγόνης: «Ω, τάφε μου, ω, νυφιάτικό μου, ω αιώνια, βαθιά στη γη, σκαμμένη κατοικιά μου». Η δεύτερη είναι τα λόγια του γιατρού Πασκάλ, στην «Περιουσία των Ρουγκόν», στο πεδίο της μάχης: «Elle est morte». Και η τρίτη υπάρχει σε αυτό το βιβλίο είναι κραυγή της ηλικιωμένης Βέρας που αναφωνεί: «Jacquot, dis, est-ce que c'est vraiment toi?» Κ ...more
Roger Brunyate
Apr 29, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: holocaust, history
After the Holocaust

This extraordinary book is the inner narrative of an elderly adopted Englishman trying to recapture a childhood shattered by the Holocaust, and to come to grips with the resultant sickness of postwar Europe. But this Freudian search is firmly rooted in the detail of everyday things: a childhood in Wales, curiosities of natural history, old photographs, the architecture of railroad stations. Its multi-layered narrative style, almost devoid of paragraphs, keeps you at a distance
...more
Grazia
Oct 08, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
"Salle des pas perdus"

"Tra le persone in attesa nella Salle des pas perdus c’era Austerlitz, un uomo che allora, nel ’67, aveva un aspetto quasi giovanile, con i capelli biondi singolarmente ondulati, come li ho visti soltanto all’eroe germanico Siegfried nel film di Lang sui Nibelunghi"

Non è un caso che il narratore (forse Sebald stesso) incontri Austerlitz in una stazione, e non è un caso che l'incontro avvenga nella Stanza dei passi perduti.
Austerlitz è un viaggiatore spartano, coltissimo, u
...more
K.D. Absolutely
Nov 03, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Tata J, Joseph
Recommended to K.D. by: 501, 1001, The Millions
The saddest book that I've read so far.

Imagine that you, at the age of 4, were separated from your parents during the war and you were raised by people who you thought were your real parents. Then towards your midlife, you knew that your biological parents were tortured and killed mercilessly but you did not have any concrete information about them except some vague assumptions? And that there were these scenes from that period that reside in the recesses of your mind but could not fully figure
...more
John David
Oct 22, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Many reviewers have cited the difficulty of the prose in “Austeritz,” but I find this difficult to comprehend. Have they never read Proust? Joyce? Faulkner? Once one has survived these trials by fire, Sebald’s prose is comparatively accessible. Still others have claimed that this is a “Holocaust novel,” and I find this equally perplexing. Certainly, while Austerlitz’s childhood experience of being sent to England via Kindertransport away from his parents forms a locus for what little narrative d ...more
Stephen P
Sep 01, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: re-read, interiority
Sacred: veneration revered, hallowed, is some of the ways the dictionary defines it, defines Sebald’s writing stretched in its own subconscious of the connections of words and letters.

Connections deemed necessary. Without them the altar of memories crumble. The disconnection of memory, dammed in its own painful fear leaves Austerlitz in a search for himself.

In the meetings over the years, unplanned, coincidental, the narrator let’s Austerlitz speaking his words of polished melancholia, as Sebal
...more
·Karen·
Apr 23, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: in-german, favourites
Not so much a narrative as a book length meditation on memory in all its forms, personal, cultural, collective. Sentences that are like whole landscapes, images that linger and resonate, a main character that will haunt me for weeks to come. This is one that lives up to all the praise it has garnered. Idiosyncratic, impressive and deeply unsettling.
piperitapitta
Disse Austerlitz, disse Sebald.

Austerlitz è un viaggio doloroso e immaginifico nei meandri della memoria - claustrofobico, agorafobico, labirintico - ma è anche un viaggio attraverso l'Europa, da Anversa a Londra, da Parigi a Praga, un viaggio fisico e spirituale apparentemente senza meta. È il vagabondare della mente alla ricerca del proprio corpo e delle proprie radici, perché Austerlitz quelle radici le ha perse e non sa chi sia.
Sebald incontra Jacques Austerlitz, un professore di Storia dell
...more
Jill
Oct 27, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: translations
This book is a hauntingly beautiful work of art. The unnamed narrator shares the story of his acquaintance slowly and vaguely, almost like watching fog rolling in. It’s incredibly moving to read how Austerlitz gradually unravels how he came to be the man he is and what his true history is.

I would be fascinated to learn more about how this was written, what parts are based on the author’s life and where the pictures came from. I’ve never read anything like it before, and I’m convinced it needs t
...more
Chrissie
NO SPOILERS!!!

I have read 160 pages of 414. I am giving this book up. It is not to my taste. Just as as in the last book I read, Far to Go, this is about those children who escaped Nazi cpntrolled countries through Kindertransport during WW2. In both books the child was transported away from Czechoslovakia. Both children were about 5-6 years of age. Both books are about those children who never again are united with thêir parents, about children who only at an adult age realize they were born in
...more
Luís C.
Lisbon Book-Fair 2017.
Marc
At first sight, this book seems like an endless succession of distant observations, a long chain of purely visual descriptions by the author himself (at least if we assume the narrator is Sebald) and especially by his somewhat mysterious friend Jacques Austerlitz. I know this does not seem very attractive, and it is also strengthened by the monotonous and slow narrative style that is sustained throughout the story. I can understand that many people slam this book after a number of pages.
But at t
...more
João Carlos
Feb 24, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: l2014, favorites, 2014best
Vou começar pelo fim. O fim trágico de W. G. Sebald, escritor alemão nascido em 1944 e falecido em 14 de Dezembro de 2001, vítima de um acidente de automóvel, quando se despistou colidindo com um camião, em Norfolk, Reino Unido, onde vivia. A sua filha Anna, a outra ocupante da viatura, de apenas quatro anos sobreviveu a este dramático acidente rodoviário. Seis meses mais tarde a autópsia revela que Sebald sofrera um aneurisma cerebral como causa da sua morte.
“Austerlitz” fora publicado em 6 de
...more
Jeremy
Feb 14, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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 th ...more
Teresa
Mar 10, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Quem: um homem à procura da sua identidade
Quando: Segunda Guerra Mundial e anos posteriores
Onde (Quem): a Europa e os lugares, onde as recordações ficaram cativas à espera que a memória as liberte
A forma: monólogo ilustrado por fotografias
O conteúdo: a Memória o Tempo

O quê: uma obra-prima!

Há mais de uma semana que ando a tentar dizer algo sobre este livro, e qualquer texto que escrevo me parece oco e tolo. Quanto mais penso, mais grandioso me parece e mais me inibe. Por isso, fica aquela "coisa"
...more
Hadrian
Aug 05, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Why the hell did I decide to read Holocaust fiction on Christmas Eve? Granted, this was a breathtaking book, but still.

Page long sentences, reflections on memory, the past, architecture, ruins, history, atrocity, etc., etc. It's really good. Don't take my word for it with this review and just read it. Although preferably in a time when you can afford to be melancholy and brooding.
Friederike Knabe
Feb 16, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: german-lit
This has been a totally absorbing reread of this extraordinary and deeply reflective story on identity, memory and the loss of roots and family. It is without doubt one of those books that should be read more than once. Brilliantly translated by Anthea Bell, it is an intellectual feat and an emotional journey in either language. I have worked with it in both. Enriched by black/white photos, we find ourselves constantly moving between fact and fiction, at times in both at the same time.
Nelson Zagalo
Tinha talvez demasiadas expetativas, tinha lido algumas notas sobre o modo como Sebald trabalha as memórias, as fronteiras entre o real e o imaginado, entre a ficção e não ficção, e ao entrar em “Austerlitz”, apesar de ver tudo isso, não o senti. O discurso apesar de erudito e fluído, cria uma sessão de prisão, de repetição, sem movimento, como se nunca saísse do mesmo lugar...

[Sugiro ler o resto com imagens em: http://virtual-illusion.blogspot.cz/2...]

Reconheço que o trabalho é original, que ex
...more
M. Sarki
http://msarki.tumblr.com/post/7290891...

I love the way Max Sebald writes. His language is rich and warm, quite sophisticated, but still accessible. I religiously claim W.G. Sebald as the master of all dream-state authorship. I have never read anyone so gifted at lulling one to sleep and slowly, unhurriedly, in some leisurely way, unsuspectingly knocking our heads off at the very same time. My problem with Austerlitz is that it just never happened for me. And this is the first time Sebald ever fa
...more
André
May 28, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
O tema que perpassa todo o livro Austerlitz é a memória. Ou, mais precisamente, a reconstrução da mesma. Memória que, por forças desconhecidas, o tempo encerra e enceta e, juntamente com a imaginação, torna o homem naquilo que ele é. Numa digressão melancólica, reflexiva e analítica vamos à descoberta da vida de um homem. Nós somos o narrador, essa figura fantasmagórica, que se senta com Jacques Austerlitz e fica a ouvir a sua história. Uma história que o próprio tenta ainda compreender.

Austerl
...more
Ingrid
Aug 26, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Scelto quasi per caso, si è rivelata una lettura ostica, nella prima parte, incantevole dalla metà in poi, eccezionale il ricordo e il sapore che ne rimane. Quando ho chiuso il libro mi sono resa conto di aver letto un piccolo grande capolavoro, non so se conosciuto ai più. Avevo letto da qualche parte che Sebald è "scrittore autunnale", un po' umbratile, e in effetti è un romanzo che mi ha letteralmente spiazzato per cotanta profondità.
La storia è molto semplice e lineare: Jacques Austerlitz è
...more
MJ Nicholls
More meandering and glorious Sebaldian prose, with sentences callipered from 18thC German texts and respooled into post-war Wales, France and Germany, with one man’s attempt to comprehend the horrors of the Theresienstadt workcamp and—obliquely—the Holocaust. This novel is a longer, more distancing work than The Emigrants or Vertigo, both chopped into four chapters and separate narrative threads.

The framing device here is unusual, with the narrator (Sebald?) quoting long screeds of dialogue fro
...more
Robert Ronsson
Jun 03, 2009 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
When I told a mate, who is a fine man and whose opinion I respect, that I found Sebald's The Rings of Saturn difficult, he said, 'Read Austerlitz, you cantankerous old git. It's even better than Rings. Austerlitz is his Meisterwerk.' So I paid good money and started to read.

I reached page 218 before giving up. (I joked to my mate that this was halfway through the first paragraph but actually there may have been a few paragraph breaks up to this point.) Here is the sentence that did it for me. I
...more
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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
More about W.G. Sebald...
“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.” 94 likes
“We take almost all the decisive steps in our lives as a result of slight inner adjustments of which we are barely conscious.” 48 likes
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