Sebald, W. G.

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W. G. Sebald: (Winfried Georg Maximillian Sebald), 1944–2001, German novelist, grad. Freiburg Univ. (1965). Sebald's novels are dense, elegiac, and meditative. They mingle fiction with history and thinly veiled autobiography, and explore the complexities of memory, often as it relates to the Holocaust. Serious and sardonic, his four novels, Schwindel, Gefühle (1990, tr. Vertigo, 1999), Die Ausgewanderten (1992, tr. The Emigrants, 1996), Die Ringe des Saturn (1995, tr. The Rings of Saturn, 1998), and Austerlitz (2001, tr. 2001), place him high among contemporary writers. They mainly concern Jewish families and characters and are set in various European cities as well as on Long Island. He also wrote scholarly works, poetry, and essays. His books often include uncaptioned photographs whose relation to the text is not always clear. Sebald died in an automobile accident, cutting short a distinguished career. His posthumously published works include On the Natural History of Destruction (tr. 2003), which discusses German literature's general lack of response to the Allied bombing of World War II, gathered from his lectures; Campo Santo (tr. 2005), travel essays; Unrecounted (tr. 2004), late poems; and A Place in the Country (1998, tr. 2014), biographical essays on five writers and a painter. He taught at the Univ. of East Anglia, Norwich, England, from 1970 until his death.

See L. S. Schwartz, The Emergence of Memory: Conversations with W. G. Sebald (2007); studies by R. Görner, ed. (2003), M. R. McCulloh (2003), J. J. Long and A. Whitehead, ed. (2004), S. Denham and M. R. McCulloh, ed. (2006), D. Blackler (2007), and R. Crownshaw et al. (2007).