“For all its dark contents and burden of undeclared grief, Vertigo is dizzyingly light and transparent.”
Benjamin Kunkel - Village Voice
“[Sebald's writing] is very beautiful, and its strangeness is what is beautiful. This German who has lived in England for thirty years is one of the most exciting, and most mysteriously sublime, of contemporary European writers.”
James Wood - The New Republic
“[A]n intriguing peregrination through time, memory, displacement...provides a first look at the author whose reputation has only continued to grow.”
Bondo Wyszpolski - Redondo Beach News
“One emerges from it shaken, seduced, and deeply impressed.” Anita Brookner
“For all its dark contents and burden of undeclared grief,
Vertigo is dizzyingly light and transparent.” Benjamin Kunkel
“[A] haunting masterpiece from W. G. Sebald.”
“[Sebald's writing] is very beautiful, and its strangeness is what is beautiful. This German who has lived in England for thirty years is one of the most exciting, and most mysteriously sublime, of contemporary European writers.” James Wood
“[A]n intriguing peregrination through time, memory, displacement...provides a first look at the author whose reputation has only continued to grow.” Bondo Wyszpolski
“Think of W. G. Sebald as memory's Einstein.” Richard Eder
“[A]n intensely personal work, showing us Sebald's genesis as a writer, and is constantly stimulating.” Sebastian Shakespeare
“[D]iverts and surprises at every turn, and bears the unmistakable stamp of maturity and erudition.” Philip Landon
Review of Contemporary Fiction
“Sebald is a thrilling, original writer. He makes narration a state of investigative bliss.” W. S. Di Piero
The New York Times Book Review
“[A]n intensely personal work, showing us Sebald's genesis as a writer, and is constantly stimulating.”
Sebastian Shakespeare - Times Literary Review
“[D]iverts and surprises at every turn, and bears the unmistakable stamp of maturity and erudition.”
Philip Landon - Review of Contemporary Fiction
The most exciting, and most mysteriously sublime, of contemporary European writers.
The New Republic
Sebald is a thrilling, original writer. He makes narration a state of investigative bliss.
The New York Times Book Review
Think of W.G. Sebald as memory's Einstein.
The New York Times
[S]o engaging and convincing....Few writers make one more aware of the seductive powers of language.
The New York Review of Books
One emerges from it shaken, seduced, and deeply impressed.
[A]n intensely personal work, showing us Sebald's genesis as a writer, and is constantly stimulating.
Literary Review [London]
[H]is patient attention to the evanescing world is more exhilarating than anything else.
Voice Literary Supplement
[D]iverts and surprises at every turn, and bears the unmistakable stamp of maturity and erudition.
Review of Contemporary Fiction
Sebald's third novel to be translated into English is in fact the German author's first novel, written before the acclaimed travel meditation, The Rings of Saturn, and The Emigrants. This exquisitely composed work also undertakes a disorienting, if less somber, journey through historical and personal memory. The first-person narrator travels through Europe during the 1980s, spurred on by history's ghosts and his own melancholic yearning for adventure. Having left his base in England to explore Vienna, Venice and Verona, he concludes with a bittersweet pilgrimage to his hometown in southwestern Germany. In four nonlinear chapters, the narrator sustains himself along his journey by establishing parallels with places and personages throughout history-e.g., the romantic novelist Stendhal, who led a peripatetic life as a Napoleonic soldier ("Beyle, or Love Is a Madness Most Discreet"), and the ailing and sexually repressed Franz Kafka, who made mournful trips to Italy ("Dr. K Takes the Waters at Riva"). Black-and-white illustrations (a detail from a Pisanello fresco, a postcard of the smoking peak of Vesuvius) provide the ironic relief. "What relation was there," the narrator asks himself in a typical moment of self-befuddlement, "between the so-called monuments of the past" and our own "vague longing" to try to connect to the future? Sebald writes elliptically, refusing to explain the intersection of seemingly irrelevant events: the narrator is fond of combing old newspapers for bits "that might well be worth retelling some time," but he is unable to resolve the purpose of his aimless quest, and allows his serenely seductive prose to lead where it will. In the last chapter, "Il ritorno in patria" (readers had better know some Italian and German, because phrases are not translated), Sebald attains a particularly fluid synthesis of intellect and sensation as the writer revisits the stunning scenery and complicated memories of his youth. In the Alpine village of W., where he has not returned for three decades, he realizes that places "which had meant so much to me in my memory... meant nothing to me now." Back in London, he has a vision of the "vertiginous depths" of the past, and hears "an echo that had almost faded away." Again translator Hulse successfully conveys Sebald's shimmering prose. (May) Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.|
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Is literary greatness still possible?...One of the few answers available to English-language readers is the work of W.G. Sebald...Where has one heard in English a voice of such confidence and precision, so direct in its expression of feeling, yet so respectfully devoted to recording "the real"?
Times Literary Supplement
The predecessor to Sebald's two acclaimed novels of history, memory, and melancholyThe Rings of Saturn (1998) and The Emigrants (1996)is a lesser, more autobiographical work, yet it moves in elegant, unanticipated ways across time, the landscapes of Europe, and into the depths of human experience. Starting with images of a young Stendhal in northern Italy, on the march with Napoleon as a teenager and later in the throes of a romance that was to fire his literary imagination, the narrator shifts abruptly to 1980 and a disconcerting trip to Vienna, Venice, and Verona, where his persistent unease gives way to full-fledged terror that sends him scrambling home to England. Determined to repeat the trip, in 1987, he has Kafka in mind as he nears Verona: K. had arrived there in 1913 in a state of mental distress and taken a cure at nearby Riva. Bypassing Verona to follow in K.'s footsteps, the narrator is sidetracked and winds up at a hotel, writing obsessivelywhereupon his passport is stolen, he's nearly mugged, and he's in such a state that he no longer remembers where he is. When he does, he finally returns to Verona to complete his research, then decides to visit the Alpine village in southern Germany where he lived as a boy just after WWII and which he has not seen since. Awash in a flood of memories, anchored only by an old man who knew him well, he remembers the man's family, the blond barmaid he was fond of, the forester who died in a suspicious fall, and his bout with diphtheria. As winter comes he returns to England, bringing along the ghosts of his past. For all its mystery and profundity, there's also much self-absorption in this traveler's tale, and its tonemustbe overcome occasionally to appreciate where the story is going.
“Think of W.G. Sebald as memory's Einstein.”
Richard Eder - The New York Times
“Sebald is a thrilling, original writer. He makes narration a state of investigative
bliss. His narrative doesn't just tell stories; it offers itself as a model of consciousness, demonstrating that to be fully aware of oneself in time is to suffer incurable vertigo. In his droll way, Sebald possesses the world-covering ambition of a magus: he wants a book to be like his old childhood atlas, made to hold... all conceivable mysteries.”
W. S. Di Piero - The New York Times Book Review
“One of contemporary literature’s most transformative figures: utterly unique.”
“An intensely personal work, showing us Sebald's genesis as a writer, and it is constantly stimulating.”
Sebastian Shakespeare - TLS
“Few writers make one more aware of the seductive powers of language.”
Tim Parks - The New York Review of Books
“Is literary greatness still possible? What would a noble literary enterprise look like now? One of the few answers available to English-language readers is the work of W.G. Sebald.”
Susan Sontag - The Times Literary Supplement
“A haunting masterpiece from W.G. Sebald.”
“Few writers have traveled as quickly from obscurity to the sort of renown that yields an adjective as quickly as German writer W. G. Sebald (1944 - 2001), and nowSebaldianis as evocative asKafkaesque. Sebald is that rare being: an inimitable stylist who creates extraordinary sentences that, like crystals, simultaneously refract and magnifymeaning.”
“In Sebald's writing, everything is connected, everything webbed together by the unseen threads of history, or chance, or fate, or death... beautiful and unsettling, elevated into an art of the uncanny - an art that was, in the end, Sebald's strange and inscrutablegift.”
“Tragic, stunningly beautiful, strange and haunting. The secret of Sebald's appeal is that he saw himself in what now seems almost an old-fashioned way as a voice of conscience, someone who remembers injustice, who speaks for those who can no longerspeak.”
The New York Review of Books
“Sebald stands with Primo Levi as the prime speaker of the Holocaust and, with him, the prime contradiction of Adorno's dictum that after it, there can be noart.”
Richard Eder - The New York Times Book Review
“Sebald has done what every writer dreams ofdoing.”
Roberta Silman - The New York Times Book Review
“The books are fascinating for the way they inhabit their own self-determined genre, but that's not ultimately why they are essential reading. There is a moral magnitude and a weary, melancholy wisdom in Sebald's writing that transcends the literary and attains something like an oracular register. Reading him feels like being spoken to in a dream. He does away with the normal proceedings of narrative fiction - plot, characterization, events leading to other events - so that what we get is the unmediated expression of a pure and seemingly disembodied voice. That voice is an extraordinary presence in contemporary literature, and it may be another decade before the magnitude - and the precise nature - of utterances are fullyrealized.”
“For all its dark contents and burden of undeclared grief,Vertigois dizzyingly light andtransparent.”
Benjamin Kunkel - The Village Voice