From to , he lived in Sonthofen. His father remained a detached figure, a prisoner of war until ; a grandfather was the most important male presence in his early years. Sebald was shown images of the Holocaust while at school in Oberstdorf and recalled that no one knew how to explain what they had just seen. The Holocaust and post-war Germany are central themes in his work. Sebald studied German and English literature first at the University of Freiburg and then at the University of Fribourg in Switzerland, where he received a degree in He returned to St.
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It was like a giant cheese wedge. The moral of the story is that I have a difficult time focusing my attention on airplanes. Sebald, however, overpowered my situational A. Again, I want to emphasize that Sebald earned my devoted attention against all odds. On the Phoenix-to-Chicago portion of my sojourn, I was delighted but leery that the plane seemed ready for take-off, but my neighbor had not arrived.
My fate for the next three hours or so had been thereby telegraphed. And -- yes! But you know what? I still think most people will probably not like this book. I totally "get" this book, but the rabble should just stick with their Robert Ludlum. You know how people talk about soul mates, and you inevitably roll your eyes because I understand the cynicism very well. Take your pick. The sketches which are neither fictional or non-fictional in the rigorous sense of the terms are suffused with a fuzzy melancholy Although the narratives are fairly direct, the mood is not.
Where does it come from? Despite the extensive narrative detail in these sketches, they are anything but narrative-driven. Not at all. And this is why I think Sebald is intended for a very particular not necessarily better audience: one which seeks the expression of its quiet desperation -- but quietly.
The words on the pages, collected, do not amass into an ostentatious gloom or self-indulgence, but like the most perfect melancholy, merely allude to something that will never be understood in absolute clarity.
W. G. Sebald and the Emigrants
Save Story Save this story for later. I met Martin Ostwald in , shortly after I became friends with his son David, whose son was in the same kindergarten class as mine. By then, Martin had retired from his position as a classics professor at Swarthmore, where he had taught for many years. On holidays and long weekends, he and his wife, Lore, would sometimes drive from Pennsylvania to see their son and his family in New York, and it was on one of these visits that David arranged for us to meet over dinner. I immediately took a liking to this elderly gentleman with a thick German accent who wore a jacket and tie, always with a tie clip, David said, even to rake leaves or shovel snow, and whose Old World tact and bonhomie made him so beloved of his former students that many had emulated their mentor, becoming university professors themselves. In the evening, Lore listened to classical music on headphones so as not to disturb him.
W. G. Sebald
Selwyn fought in the First World War and has an interest in gardening and tending to animals. He commits suicide by inserting a gun in his mouth. A quarter Jewish , he found employment difficult in the period leading up to the Second World War , although he eventually served in the Wehrmacht. Teaching in the small school after the war, Bereyter found a passion for his students while living a lonely, quiet life.