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The Rings of Saturn

4.25  ·  Rating details ·  10,144 ratings  ·  1,069 reviews
The Rings of Saturn — with its curious archive of photographs — records a walking tour along the east coast of England. A few of the things which cross the path and mind of its narrator (who both is and is not Sebald) are lonely eccentrics, Sir Thomas Browne's skull, a matchstick model of the Temple of Jerusalem, recession-hit seaside towns, wooded hills, Joseph Conrad, Re ...more
Mass Market Paperback, NDP881, 296 pages
Published April 17th 1999 by New Directions (first published 1995)
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Paul Bryant
Oct 11, 2011 rated it liked it
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
May 05, 2011 rated it it was amazing
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
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
Vit Babenco
Feb 11, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
W.G. Sebald resides in the intellectual world so any event in his life brings up some literary, cultural or historical reminiscences…
Several times during the day I felt a desire to assure myself of a reality I feared had vanished forever by looking out of that hospital window, which, for some strange reason, was draped with black netting, and as dusk fell the wish became so strong that, contriving to slip over the edge of the bed to the floor, half on my belly and half sideways, and then to reac
Apr 11, 2009 rated it really liked it
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
Shelves: tedeschi, favorites, owned
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
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
Roman Clodia
Jun 07, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Now, as I write, and think once more of our history, which is but a long account of calamities...

Is it presumptuous, I wonder, to declare Sebald a favourite writer when this is the first book of his I've read? Possibly - but there's that feeling, that he might himself possibly endorse, of feeling at home with a writer from the very first page. Which is ironic, since one of the themes of this book is precisely that sense of homelessness that confronts the many exiles nested here.

I'd also say
Apr 08, 2016 rated it it was amazing
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
Nora Barnacle
Jan 15, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Kad bih ja bila neka važna ličnost za kosmička pitanja i kad bi se od mene tražilo da odaberem nešto po čemu će gospoda Svemirci najbolje i najtačnije razumeti šta na ljudskom jeziku znači biti pisac, ja bih, shodno ozbiljnosti zadatka, potisnula svu silinu svojih emocija prema Džojsu, Selinu i Muzilu, i lepo im zapakovala Zebaldove "Saturnove prstenove".

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
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
I haven't read any of Sebald's novels. In fact that's what I had thought I was doing by picking up The Rings of Saturn, which Goodreads has incorrectly categorised as "fiction". The book is in fact a sort of digressional memoir and travel journal, whose meanderings include accounts of history, nature, art and literature, as well as the occasional smattering of philosophy. The subjects reach far and wide geographically and thematically, and range from the mundane to the utterly fascinating (a res ...more
Mar 16, 2009 rated it it was amazing
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 an ...more
"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:

Nov 07, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: psychogeography
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
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
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 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
Justin Evans
May 23, 2015 rated it liked it
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
Peter Boyle
Jul 29, 2018 rated it liked it
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
Adam Dalva
Jul 09, 2014 rated it it was amazing
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
Domenico Fina
May 19, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Ecco due passaggi memorabili tratti da "Gli anelli di Saturno":

Che si sorvoli Terranova, oppure al calar della notte, il brulichio di luci senza soluzione di continuità tra Boston e Filadelfia, si ha sempre l'impressione che gli uomini siano assenti, che ci siano soltanto le loro creazioni, al cui interno essi si nascondono. E tuttavia sono presenti ovunque sulla faccia della Terra, e di ora in ora si moltiplicano, si muovono attraverso gli alveoli di torri svettanti contro il cielo, e si ritrov
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-
Oct 04, 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
Apr 23, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: deutschland
Die Ringe des Saturn zählt wohl zu den außergewöhnlichsten Romanen, die ich je gelesen habe, soweit man überhaupt von einem Roman sprechen kann. Eher ist es Reisebericht, Essay, Monographie und Roman in einem, wobei die Grenze zwischen Fiktion und Realität ganz bewusst verschwimmt.

Das Buch ist durchgehend mit Fotografien bebildert, wobei der Objektivitätsanspruch des Fotos durch die gewollt schlechte Reproduktionsqualität im schwarz/weißen Buchdruck auf rauhem Papier konsequent untergraben wird.
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Apr 25, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book irreversibly changed my views of what fiction is and can be. It is utterly moving, beautiful, hypnotic and haunting.
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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

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