S̶e̶a̶n̶'s Reviews > The Rings of Saturn

The Rings of Saturn by W.G. Sebald
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it was amazing
bookshelves: 2017, nonfiction-narrative, somewhere-else, travel


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 check). His points regarding the slipperiness of memory, the significance of dreams, and the strangeness of 'chance happenings' and 'the ghosts of repetition' were also not lost on me. Yes, indeed, the man can write like no other.
No matter how often I tell myself that chance happenings of this kind occur far more often than we suspect, since we all move, one after the other, along the same roads mapped out for us by our origins and our hopes, my rational mind is nonetheless unable to lay the ghosts of repetition that haunt me with ever greater frequency. Scarcely am I in company but it seems as if I had already heard the same opinions expressed by the same people somewhere or other, in the same way, with the same words, turns of phrase and gestures. The physical sensation closest to this feeling of repetition, which sometimes lasts for several minutes and can be quite disconcerting, is that of the peculiar numbness brought on by a heavy loss of blood, often resulting in a temporary inability to think, to speak or to move one's limbs, as though without being aware of it, one had suffered a stroke. Perhaps there is in this as yet unexplained phenomenon of apparent duplication some kind of anticipation of the end, a venture into the void, a sort of disengagement, which, like a gramophone repeatedly playing the same sequence of notes, has less to do with damage to the machine itself than with an irreparable defect in its programme.
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Reading Progress

October 5, 2017 – Started Reading
October 5, 2017 – Shelved
October 6, 2017 –
page 53
17.91% "I do not believe that these men sit by the sea all day and all night so as not to miss the time when the whiting pass, the flounder rise or the cod come in to the shallower waters, as they claim. They just want to be in a place where they have the world behind them, and before them nothing but emptiness."
October 7, 2017 –
page 80
27.03% "I suppose it is submerged memories that give to dreams their curious air of hyper-reality. But perhaps there is something else as well, something nebulous, gauze-like, through which everything one sees in a dream seems, paradoxically, much clearer. [...] What manner of theatre is it, in which we are at once playwright, actor, stage manager, scene painter and audience?"
October 11, 2017 –
page 186
62.84% "I recall now how he once said to me that one of the chief difficulties of writing consisted in thinking, with the tip of the pen, solely of the word to be written, whilst banishing from one's mind the reality of what one intends to describe."
October 13, 2017 – Shelved as: 2017
October 13, 2017 – Shelved as: nonfiction-narrative
October 13, 2017 – Shelved as: somewhere-else
October 13, 2017 – Shelved as: travel
October 13, 2017 – Finished Reading

Comments Showing 1-2 of 2 (2 new)

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message 1: by Joseph (new) - added it

Joseph Schreiber I have to go back to this one, for some reason I did not get far with this one. The Emigrants is my favourite. I think about it often.


S̶e̶a̶n̶ Thanks--perhaps I'll read that one next then.


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