Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
W. G. Sebald
W. G. (Winfred Georg Maximilian) Sebald (May 18, 1944, Wertach im Allgäu –December 14, 2001, Norfolk, United Kingdom) was a writer and academic. Towards the end of his life he was being cited by many literary critics as one of the greatest living authors. He preferred to be called 'Max', from one of his middle names, by family and friends.
Sebald grew up in a Bavarian village, one of four children of Rosa and Georg Sebald. His father joined the German army in 1929 and remained in the army under the Nazis. His father remained a detached figure, a prisoner-of-war until 1947; a grandfather was the most important male presence in his early years. He was shown images of the Holocaust whilst at school in Obersdorf and recalled that no one knew how to explain what they had just seen. The Holocaust and post-war Germany loomed large in Sebald's work.
Sebald studied literature in Freiburg University, Switzerland and Manchester. He became an assistant lecturer at the University of Manchester in 1966 and settled in England permanently in 1970, joining the University of East Anglia. In 1987, he was appointed to a chair of German literature at UEA and, in 1989, became the founding director of the British Centre for Literary Translation. He lived at Wymondham whilst at the UEA.
Sebald died in a car crash in 2001. He was driving together with his daughter, Anna, who survived the crash. He had married Ute in 1967.
Sebald's works are largely concerned with the theme of memory, both personal and collective. They were in particular attempts to reconcile himself with, and deal in literary terms with, the trauma of the Second World War and its effect on the German people. In On the Natural History of Destruction he wrote a major essay on the wartime bombing of German cities, and the absence in German writing of any real response. His concern with the Holocaust is expressed in several books delicately tracing his own biographical connections with Jews.
His distinctive and innovative novels were written in German, but are well-known in English translations which he supervised closely. They include Austerlitz , The Rings of Saturn, The Emigrants, and Vertigo.
In both German and English, as compiled on this page:
- Unerzählt. Zusammen mit Jan Peter Tripp. 33 Texte und 33 Radierungen. München, Wien: Hanser, 2003.
- Außer Land. Drei Romane und ein Elementargedicht: Die Ausgewanderten, Die Ringe des Saturn, Schwindel. Gefühle, Nach der Natur . Frankfurt am Main: Eicborn, 2001.
- On the Natural History of Destruction: With Essays on Alfred Andersch, Jean Amery, and Peter Weiss. Translated by Anthea Bell. New York: Random House, 2003.
- After nature. Translated by Michael Hamburger. London: Hamish Hamilton, 2001.
- For years now: poems. Images by Tess Jaray. London: Short Books, 2001.
- Austerlitz . Translated by Anthea Bell. New York : Random House, 2001.
- Austerlitz. München: C. Hanser, 2001.
- Vertigo. Translated by Michael Hulse. New York: New Directions, 1999.
- Vertigo. Translated by Michael Hulse. London: Harvill Press, 1999.
- Rings of Saturn. Translated by Michael Hulse. New York: New Directions, 1999.
- Luftkrieg und Literatur: mit einem Essay zu Alfred Andersch. München: C. Hanser, 1999.
- Logis in einem Landhaus: über Gottfried Keller, Johann Peter Hebel, Robert Walser und andere. München: Hanser, 1998.
- The Emigrants. Translated by Michael Hulse. London : Harvill Press, 1996.
- The Emigrants. Translated by Michael Hulse. New York : New Directions, 1996.
- Die Ringe des Saturn: eine englische Wallfahrt. Frankfurt am Main: Eichborn, 1995.
- Die Ausgewanderten: vier lange Erzählungen. Frankfurt am Main: Eichborn, 1992.
- Unheimliche Heimat : Essays zur österreichischen Literatur. Salzburg: Residenz Verlag, 1991.
- Schwindel, Gefühle. Frankfurt am Main: Eichborn, 1990.
- Nach der Natur: ein Elementargedicht. Photographien von Thomas Becker. Nördlingen: Greno, 1988.
- A Radical stage: Theatre in Germany in the 1970s and 1980s. Edited by W.G. Sebald. Oxford; New York: Berg; New York: St. Martin's, 1988.
- Die Beschreibung des Unglücks: zur österreichischen Literatur von Stifter bis Handke. Salzburg: Residenz Verlag, 1985.
- Der Mythus der Zerstörung im Werk Döblins. Stuttgart: Klett, 1980.
- Carl Sternheim; Kritiker und Opfer der Wilhelminischen Ära. Stuttgart: W. Kohlhammer .
- Davidson Symposium on W.G. Sebald
- Sebald author page at Guardian Unlimited
- Other Sebald resources at Guardian Unlimited
- Clive Scott remembers W.G. Sebald
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