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Jennifer SchuesslerThis magnificent writer may have left abruptly, but his own shadow lingers.
— The New York Times
From the Trade Paperback edition.
Posted May 13, 2005
WG Sebald whose too early accidental death in 2001 is a much-lamented loss to the literary world he so quietly entered briefly before his demise. He is a unique writer, one whose style includes ramblings and crude snapshots of incidental places that support his strange tales. For many he is an acquired taste and only time will tell whether his honored books will withstand the test of immortality. And that fact is very much in keeping with the worldview of this enormously gifted observer of the human condition and the plight of the individual played against the backdrop of history and melancholy.CAMPO SANTO is not a completely successful book in the manner of this highly praised novels. But the very fact that his early departure from the writing stream impacted readers to the point of wanting more justifies this aggregation of four chapters of a novel based on Corsica and multiple lectures and essays and addresses. The book opens with a fine essay by editor Sven Meyer, a timetable that introduces Sebald to readers unfamiliar with his odd life. The subsequent works are translated from the German by Sebald's longtime translator Anthea Bell. And that fact introduces one of the many odd quirks in Sebald's career: why should a man who spent the better part of his expatriation from his native Germany teaching in England write in German instead of his adopted language English?Perhaps one reason lies in the focus of each of Sebald's works. His stories are travels and meanderings through various locations that serve as his platform for posing the question of history as memory, the unresolved restitution of Germany after WW II (a period he only knew from seeing the disastrous postwar results and reading the reflective works of other writers coping with the crossfire of guilt and sadness/remorse and anger - he was born in 1944), an the driving need to understand the role of mankind in the flux of a globe at unrest.Reading the first four chapters of CAMPO SANTO makes us wish he had completed this novel about Corsica and the fascination with the life of Napoleon who was born there. But the saved fragments of this novel interrupted by his award-winning AUSTERLITZ are savory and contain many eloquent passages to assuage the reader longing for more.The remaining essays and lectures are dense and more cerebral but for those Sebald addicts there is much to digest about his thoughts and philosophy. And for those readers especially this final book is a must for the library. Highly recommended. Grady HarpWas this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.