Austerlitz

Austerlitz

Book - 2001
Average Rating:
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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.
Publisher: New York : Random House, c2001
Edition: 1st ed
ISBN: 9780375504839
0375504834
9780375756566
0375756566
Characteristics: 298 p. : ill., maps ; 25 cm

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Waluconis
Feb 01, 2018

fter Rings of Saturn, I immediately got a hold of another book by Sebald. This had that same quality of moving through a realistic world, but somehow making it feel like a dream, and exploring memory. I have not read a comparison, but I think he treats memory as Proust does. This book is different in that that focus is a friend, who at times narrates. Takes Sebald's unique writing to another new place.

h
hughmahoney
Apr 16, 2016

Sebald's novels are beyond comparison. Superb.

multcolib_central Jul 19, 2014

It's been so long that I road this intriguing novel that I'll probably check it out if you don't.
This a good introduction to a novelist's work that was cat shout, tragically.

z
zackhaslam
May 30, 2013

As one of the defining events of the 20th century, the Holocaust has reverberated and echoed in peculiar ways all throughout the world.

It's no exaggeration to say that Austerlitz captures this truth more perfectly than any other 'holocaust novel,' by presenting itself as a rambling jazz novel, filled with long sections of stream-of-consciousness digressions and diversions related by a man constantly collecting his thoughts and explaining himself to another.

Jacques Austerlitz has lived unaware of history, but in the trundling wheel of his thoughts - reflections on architecture, art, travel, memories, dreams, relationships and experiences - there are shadows and spectres lurking in the corners. Austerlitz determines to find out these ghosts, if only to give name to a feeling looming over him his whole life.

(The only time I stopped reading was when I was within view of the end, and not wanting it to end, knowing the only end could be unsatisfactory anyway, I hid the book from myself.)

Devin_Library Aug 06, 2009

A diaphanous book of memory, containing the whole weight of 20th century Europe. It's amazing how Sebald does this stuff -- there are glimpses of horror seething under the surface, but the narrative itself is as calm as a pond on a windless day. His books are a kind of talking cure for unspeakable terror. Makes you think humanity might have a chance after all.

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