Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Austerlitz” as Want to Read:
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview


4.04  ·  Rating details ·  14,003 ratings  ·  1,287 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 Austerlitz is told nothing of his real family by the Welsh Methodist ...more
Paperback, Penguin Essentials, 415 pages
Published July 4th 2002 by Penguin Books Ltd (first published November 6th 2001)
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Austerlitz, please sign up.
Popular Answered Questions
Renate most people can remember events after age 3. before the age of speech, there is no verbal memory. Trauma causes dissociation or blockage of memory whi…moremost people can remember events after age 3. before the age of speech, there is no verbal memory. Trauma causes dissociation or blockage of memory which is what happened to Austerlitz. if the trauma is dealt with, the memory can return.(less)
Jaap I guess I just got to the 9-page sentence... and am still waiting for it to end with "mit" :)

It's not the easiest thing to read, but as Tom said, not …more
I guess I just got to the 9-page sentence... and am still waiting for it to end with "mit" :)

It's not the easiest thing to read, but as Tom said, not impossible. It does take a bit of intellectual effort in that it uses fragments of other languages too, but they are clear enough from the context.(less)

Community Reviews

Showing 1-59
Average rating 4.04  · 
Rating details
 ·  14,003 ratings  ·  1,287 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of Austerlitz
Apr 10, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Sep 13, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: tedesca

Il film “Austerlitz” è del 2015, con Denis Lavant nel ruolo del protagonista (l’attore feticcio di Leos Carax), diretto dal praghese Stan Neumann. Il film non ha circolato se non per qualche festival, il suo pubblico (ristretto) è stato confinato alla critica che lo ha definito U.M.O., nel senso di Unidentified Movie Object (gli U.F.O. sono unindentified Flying Object).

Di fronte a pagine monolitiche, prive di interruzioni e a capo, con periodi lunghi, ricerca del dettagl
Glenn Russell
Nov 20, 2017 rated it it was amazing

“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

Turning the pages of the novel Austerlitz makes for one powerful, emotionally wrenching experience. Here's what esteemed critic Michiko Kakutani wrote as part of her New York Times review: "We are transported to a memoryscape - a twilight, fogbound world of half-remembered images and ghosts that is reminiscent at once of Ingmar Bergman's
Violet wells
Feb 18, 2014 rated it really liked it
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,
Steven Godin
Sep 26, 2018 rated it really liked it
I first came across the writings of W.G. Sebald by complete accident, wandering in a bookstore I accidentally caught the edge of a table and sent three or four books hurtling to the floor, one was Sebald's 'Vertgo' a book that was unfamiliar to me, but one that caught my attention. Although it didn't set the world on fire for me in ways I had hoped for, it was no doubt the work of a true ingenious writer who pushed the boundaries of fiction into new territory. Within just three pages of reading ...more
Dec 13, 2013 rated it it was amazing
”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
Michael Finocchiaro
Nov 27, 2016 rated it really liked it
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
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 Άθχημο γατί του θενιόρ Γκουαναμίρου
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
Apr 22, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: germania, 1001, favorites

Tempo e memoria

Un lento viaggio a ritroso nella memoria. Un viaggio nel tempo, nei ricordi sbiaditi, nelle fotografie consumate, in vecchi documenti. Parole e immagini scorrono davanti a noi anche se spesso non correlate. Il flusso dei pensieri vaga e ci porta in strane direzioni apparentemente senza ragione; ma c'è sempre una ragione, che improvvisamente prende forma.

Tempo e memoria.

Ogni costruzione, ogni edificio, ogni chiesa ogni castello trova la sua giustificazione d'essere nel passato, nel
Emilio Berra
Oct 13, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: letto
Un'animata solitudine
Può contenere spoiler
Sebald è considerato forse il miglior scrittore tedesco degli ultimi decenni.
Dopo aver letto il piacevole breve testo "Il passeggiatore solitario", belle pagine sulle tracce di un altro grande, R. Walser, m'attendevo qualcosa di diverso da questo libro, "Austerlitz", salutato dai critici come autentico capolavoro, il cui protagonista è un docente di Storia dell'Architettura, studioso solitario spesso in viaggio per l'Europa, visitatore di luoghi partico
Roger Brunyate
Apr 29, 2016 rated it it was amazing
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
Jun 18, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Altissimo livello sotto tutti i punti di vista: la prosa, la costruzione narrativa, la cultura dell'autore; ma la dose di digressioni su cui si basa tutto l'impianto è molto massiccia, forse un po' più di quel che il mio povero stomaco è in grado di digerire e assimilare. E' una lettura cupa e anche un filo lugubre e angosciosa: questo, per quanto possibile, è da intendersi in un'accezione positiva, è il raggiungimento di un obiettivo, credo fosse esattamente questa la sensazione che l'autore vo ...more
Oct 14, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: germany, 2018-read
How do we (re-)construct the past, and how does memory shape us? In this novel, Sebald discusses many aspects of personal memory and the re-telling of history as a cultural and culturally shaped technique, themes that are also central in the scientific works of Jan and Aleida Assmann who just yesterday received the Peace Prize of the German Book Trade. I think it's very telling that experts on cultural memory receive a PEACE prize, as the way we face, frame and remember our personal and the hist ...more
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
Great Napoleonic victory. How many people can boast of having this surname not banal?
People with extraordinary destiny probably. It would be not easy to understand that such people remain in the shadows.
Jacques Austerlitz, the main character of this WG Sebald book is one of those, scholar, a passionate, a philosopher, a man in search of his past, that of his family ... What was his life before the age of 4 and a half? .... Has he always called Austerlitz? Has he still lived in Wales,
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.
K.D. Absolutely
Nov 03, 2009 rated it really liked it
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
Oct 03, 2016 rated it really liked it
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
John David
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
Jul 13, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Bitirdiğimde ne okudum ben diye düşündüm. Okuduğum hiçbir şeye benzemiyordu. Başlangıçta çok kafam karıştı, ama ritmine alıştıkça aldı götürdü.

"Yalnız yolculuk edenler, bazen günlerce süren kesintisiz sessizlikten sonra konuşacak birini bulunca pek sevinirler. Hatta bu gibi durumlarda tamamen yabancı bir insana hiç sakınmadan açıldıklarına bile tanık olmuşumdur."

Aug 12, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: letto
Come nell’epos un ruolo determinante assolve la stratificazione di racconti derivati dal mito e tramandati oralmente, così questo romanzo incentra la sua riflessione sulla stratificazione operata dagli uomini negli spazi da loro abitati, vissuti e ideati per le più diverse necessità. La riflessione su di essi è dunque uno dei fili conduttori di questa scrittura che, cavalcando la professione del suo protagonista, Jacques Austerlitz è un professore di storia dell’architettura, conduce ad una pres ...more
Cláudia Azevedo
Apr 18, 2019 rated it liked it
Austerlitz é um livro duro, difícil, em que cada palavra parece impregnada de uma tristeza existencial impossível de ultrapassar perante a confrontação com os horrores da política nazi.
Como conta o narrador, Austerlitz, tendo embora sido enviado para o País de Gales a tempo de ver salva a sua vida, não deixa de ser vítima desse regime macabro que lhe roubou a família e a identidade.
O livro conta parte do percurso de recuperação dolorosa de uma memória individual e coletiva.

"Fiquei como cego di
Lucas Vargas Sierra
Ayer en la noche terminé de leer Austerlitz, novela a la que llegué por recomendación de un profesor de literatura comparada y en cuyas primeras cuarenta páginas no encontraba, realmente, algo a lo cuál aferrar un entusiasmo cualquiera. Estaba bien escrita, sí, pero el tono de ensayo solemne no conseguía convencerme. Por suerte, cuando leer no es la búsqueda del divertimento se nos permiten encuentros valiosos como recompensa al empeño de insistir, y esta lectura es, sin duda, un valiosísimo enc ...more
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

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
Stephen P
Sep 01, 2017 rated it it was amazing
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
Buğra Aydoğan
Apr 08, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Sebald'a ilgi duymamın başlıca nedeni adının sık sık Thomas Bernhard ile birlikte anılmasıydı. Daha ilk sayfalarda Sebald'ın Thomas Bernhard'dan çok farklı, çok daha kırılgan bir yazar olduğu belli oluyor. Kendisini okumaya devam etmek için bir çok nedenim var artık.

Austerlitz fazlasıyla kasvetli ve karmaşık bir kitap. 1940'lı yıllarda Galler'de Calvinist bir aile tarafından yetiştirilmiş, mimarlık tarihçisi Jacques Austerlitz'in kendi köklerinin izini sürmesini okuyoruz. Sebald, kasvetli ve pür
Feb 16, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2015, war-books
Чим більше поринаєш у текст Зебальда, тим більше розумієш його унікальність. Мабуть, найглибинніша книга, яку я коли-небудь читала, про пошуки ідентичності та власне себе. А з іншого боку майже відсутність сюжету, довжелезні речення, які повільно, майже непомітно починають зливатися із зображеннями. У першій сотні сторінок у мене виникла саме така асоціація із цим текстом - він наче фото, наче зображення. Його треба не лише читати, прочитувати, а ще й роздивлятися та вдивлятися. Маст рід не те с ...more
rated it really liked it
Feb 11, 2007
rated it really liked it
Feb 14, 2007
rated it it was amazing
Feb 28, 2007
rated it it was amazing
Mar 02, 2007
rated it it was amazing
Mar 13, 2007
rated it it was amazing
Mar 13, 2007
rated it it was amazing
Mar 13, 2007
Mar 14, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: everyone
Shelves: germanliterature
I recommend this book all the time. Reading this book was like breathing in fresh air. The most creative and intriguing work of fiction I have delved into in a very long time.
Jean L
rated it really liked it
Mar 14, 2007
rated it liked it
Mar 17, 2007
marked it as to-read
Mar 17, 2007
marked it as to-read
Mar 22, 2007
marked it as to-read
Mar 25, 2007
rated it really liked it
Mar 28, 2007
rated it really liked it
Apr 02, 2007
rated it it was amazing
Apr 03, 2007
rated it really liked it
Apr 03, 2007
rated it it was amazing
Apr 05, 2007
rated it it was amazing
Apr 05, 2007
marked it as to-read
Apr 09, 2007
alan brake
rated it it was amazing
Apr 09, 2007
rated it liked it
Apr 15, 2007
Apr 26, 2007 rated it really liked it
Sebald has perfected the art of writing about everything through the smallest prism. Austerlitz is the story of a man searching for his lost childhood in pre-World War 2 Prague. His search takes him through 20th Century history's greatest tragedies and many of it's darkest forgotten corners. Much more so than in previous works Sebald becomes obsessed with architecture (abandoned fortresses, disused train stations, Prague itself), and also recovering and remembering his youth.
rated it it was amazing
Apr 27, 2007
marked it as to-read
Apr 29, 2007
rated it it was ok
May 01, 2007
blythe hill
rated it really liked it
May 07, 2007
Antonia Scholz
rated it really liked it
May 09, 2007
rated it it was amazing
May 16, 2007
rated it really liked it
May 17, 2007
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »

Readers also enjoyed

  • El país de la dama eléctrica
  • El Dock
  • Montano's Malady
  • Амадока
  • The Radetzky March
  • Wittgenstein's Nephew
  • The Loser
  • Extinction
  • Sensini
  • Open City
  • Trzy opowieści
  • Poufne
  • Correction
  • Yes
  • Frost
  • Das Ornament Der Masse: Essays: Weimar Essays
  • Woodcutters
  • De wasbeer
See similar books…
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

Related Articles

Punk rock legend, Rock & Roll Hall of Fame inductee, award-winning writer, photographer, activist, and all-around Renaissance woman Patti Smith is...
175 likes · 24 comments
“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.” 119 likes
“We take almost all the decisive steps in our lives as a result of slight inner adjustments of which we are barely conscious.” 52 likes
More quotes…