Austerlitz by W.G. Sebald & James Wood

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Synopsis

Over the course of a thirty-year conversation unfolding in train stations and travelers’ stops across England and Europe, W.G. Sebald’s unnamed narrator and Jacques Austerlitz discuss Austerlitz’s ongoing efforts to understand who he is. An orphan who came to England alone in the summer of 1939 and was raised by a Welsh Methodist minister and his wife as their own, Austerlitz grew up with no conscious memory of where he came from.

W.G. Sebald embodies in Austerlitz the universal human search for identity, the struggle to impose coherence on memory, a struggle complicated by the mind’s defenses against trauma. Along the way, this novel of many riches dwells magically on a variety of subjects–railway architecture, military fortifications; insets, plants, and animals; the constellations; works of art; the strange contents of the museum of a veterinary school; a small circus; and the three capital cities that loom over the book, London, Paris, and Prague–in the service of its astounding vision.
 

About W.G. Sebald & James Wood

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W. G. Sebald was born in Wertach im Allgäu, Germany, in 1944. He studied German language and literature in Freiburg, Switzerland, and Manchester. He taught at the University of East Anglia in Norwich, England, for thirty years, becoming professor of European literature in 1987, and from 1989 to 1994 was the first director of the British Centre for Literary Translation. His previously translated books-The Rings of Saturn, The Emigrants, Vertigo, and Austerlitz-have won a number of international awards, including the National Book Critics Circle Award, the Los Angeles Times Book Award, the Berlin Literature Prize, and the LiteraTour Nord Prize. He died in December 2001.Iain Galbraith was born in Glasgow in 1956 and studied modern languages and comparative literature at the universities of Cambridge, Freiburg, and Mainz, where he taught for several years. He has edited works by Stevenson, Hogg, Scott, Boswell, and Conrad, and contributed essays to many books and journals in the U.K., France, and Germany. He is a widely published translator of German-language writing, especially poetry, into English, winning the John Dryden Prize for Literary Translation in 2004.
 
Published October 2, 2001 by Random House. 300 pages
Genres: History, Education & Reference, Literature & Fiction. Fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for Austerlitz

Kirkus Reviews

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Another haunting mixture of history, memoir, and photo album from the author of The Rings of Saturn (1998) and Vertigo (2000).

May 20 2010 | Read Full Review of Austerlitz

Publishers Weekly

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The ghost of what historian Peter Gay calls "the bourgeois experience," molded in the liberalism and neurasthenia of the 19th century and destroyed in the wars and concentration camps of th

Aug 13 2001 | Read Full Review of Austerlitz

The New York Times

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The title character of W. G. Sebald's novel journeys into the past in an effort to discover his identity.

Oct 28 2001 | Read Full Review of Austerlitz

The Guardian

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They meet, coincidentally, in London years later, and this time Austerlitz tells him his story, in which his memories begin first with being brought up by a Welsh minister and his wife, but which, through random chance he then realises predate that: his true origins are in Prague, where at five y...

Jul 13 2002 | Read Full Review of Austerlitz

The Guardian

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Austerlitz W G Sebald 415pp, Hamish Hamilton, £16.99 In W G Sebald's The Rings of Saturn, which helped him acquire a large British reputation, one of the more memorable scenes - intentionally or otherwise - involved a fogeyish narrator, staying at an empty seaside hotel in Suffolk, a...

Sep 29 2001 | Read Full Review of Austerlitz

The Guardian

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I was browsing the shelves of the Travel Bookshop in north Kensington, looking for books that might help me plan a walk on the north coast of Norfolk with my nine-year-old son, when I came across a book, The Rings of Saturn, whose typography and quality of production so intrigued me that, altho...

Sep 30 2001 | Read Full Review of Austerlitz

Publishers Weekly

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When they accidentally run into each other in 1996, Austerlitz tells the story that occupies the rest of the book—the story of Austerlitz's life.

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Star Tribune

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Review: Mixing images and text, this gently meandering novel explores the process of recollection as an unnamed narrator crosses paths with a man who fled Nazi terror in childhood.

Dec 01 2001 | Read Full Review of Austerlitz

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