Austerlitz Austerlitz discussion


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Austerlitz By W.G. Sebald

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message 1: by Ayyat (new)

Ayyat saleh Although rich in descriptions and long sentences, Austerlitz by W. G. Sebald takes the reader on a quest of Jacques Austerlitz's story of homecoming and nostalgia. It is the journey of his childhood and how he was brought up. Moving on to discover that during his teenage years, his true identity as Dafydd Elias makes him shift to the searching of the “self” . In the beginning of the novel, his unknown “self” is not clear, and it remains unclear till the end of the novel as James Wood writes in his introduction of Austerlitz “A life has been filled in for us, but not a self. He remains as unknowable at the end as he was at the beginning , indeed seems to quit the book randomly and unexpectedly as he entered it”.
Throughout the quest of Jacques Austerlitz , the reader travels back to the dark ages and the history of Europe , passing by all the beautiful scenes and amazing architecture of buildings and monuments . Jacques passion to his career of architecture can be felt by the reader from his deep-detailed descriptions. The descriptions start in each of the meetings between the narrator and Austerlitz , in the Antwerp Glove Market, Cafe des Esperances in Liege on the old Gallows Hill in Brussels , in billiards room in Terneuzen , and in the Bloomsbury in London. From London to Germany and returning back to the United Kingdom after twenty years , the narrator returns to describe Austerlitz and how he is not changed . From here Austerlitz's story of how he grew up starts , and his true identity is revealed. After telling his story , Austerlitz continues to the point of going to Paris to study architectural history. In each meeting between the narrator and Austerlitz , Austerlitz tells a section of his life story . He continues to tell his childhood memories and his search for his origins till the end, discovering his father Maximilian Auchenwald and his mother Agata Austerlitz . Although the reader gets the origins and the history of Austerlitz , but still the deep “self” remains unclear.
Austerlitz is not only a novel ; but it is also a travel/tour book , guide book, history book, architecture book , or all mixed in one book. It depends on the kind of reader . Although this novel takes its time to begin ; but after finish reading it , one feels that the tour was worth it !


message 2: by Sanskriti (new)

Sanskriti Nagar This book seems to have garnered a lot of praise and acclaim among the readers and reviewers. I, however, feel let down for it seems I'm the only who doesn't think very highly of this book.

I have an issue with certain forms of narrative or writing technique. But this is the first book in my memory where I had trouble with the format; no chapter breaks, no paragraph indentations and undesirably long sentences. I wonder if the problem is because it is a translated work or whether the book was originally intended that way, but when even after struggling through 150 pages I didn't warm up to the book, I abandoned it.

I'm adopting the Rule of 50 as expounded by Nancy Pearl, "Give a book 50 pages and if it still doesn't do it for you, give it up." I've got too many books and too little time to get through them all, and though I feel terrible about abandoning books, I feel I would rather enjoy what I read than trudge through a book.

Perhaps another day, a much older me could come back to this book and appreciate the story. But for now, I don't plan on taking it off the shelf, much less recommend it to someone else for a read.


message 3: by Nan (new) - rated it 5 stars

Nan Cuba I loved this book. I find it so remarkable that I'm afraid I'll diminish its value by trying to talk about it. There is a profound tension that drives the work: the narrator's sacred responsibility to reveal the story of someone no one would know otherwise so he wants to yell it, wave it, push it, but he forces himself to evoke it tenderly, meticulously, in order to honor his subject. Sebald was a thoughtful writer whose work exemplifies beauty and integrity.


message 4: by Michael (last edited Jan 06, 2015 03:04PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Michael A beautiful book that I found difficult to put down. Almost dreamlike the way it ebbs and flows, through time and characters. The lack of paragraphs and chapter breaks lends itself to what, I believe, Sebald was trying to achieve, this very same sense of flowing through time, back and forth, history and present. Definitely a difficult book to describe. I'm sitting here at the keyboard trying to find the right words -- but I'm left with an emotional attachment to the book that's for me, at least now, indescribable. I will delve into more of this man's work. Too bad Austerlitz was his last.


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