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After Nature, W. G. Sebald’s first literary work, now translated into English by Michael Hamburger, explores the lives of three men connected by their restless questioning of humankind’s place in the natural world. From the efforts of each, “an order arises, in places beautiful and comforting, though more cruel, too, than the previous state of ignorance.” The first figure is the great German Re-naissance painter Matthias Grünewald. The second is the Enlightenment botanist-explorer Georg Steller, who accompanied Bering to the Arctic. The third is the author himself, who describes his wanderings among landscapes scarred by the wrecked certainties of previous ages.

After Nature introduces many of the themes that W. G. Sebald explored in his subsequent books. A haunting vision of the waxing and waning tides of birth and devastation that lie behind and before us, it confirms the author’s position as one of the most profound and original writers of our time.


From the Hardcover edition.
Published: Random House Publishing Group an imprint of Random House Publishing Group on Sep 16, 1999
ISBN: 9780307813657
List price: $11.99
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This book is the english translation of the first literary work of Sebald, Nach der Natur. Ein Elementargedicht. It is an extended prose poem divided into three parts. The first is about the German Renaissance painter Matthias Grünewald, opening with his triptych on the alter of Lindenhardt parish church. The second part centers on the German naturalist Georg Wilhem Steller, a member of the Vitus Bering second Kamchatka expedition that landed in Alaska in the summer of 1741. The last part is centered on Sebald himself. The common theme that seems to run through the three parts of the book is that of human suffering, but also of the efforts of people in their quest for meaning, from which an order arises, in places beautiful and comforting, though more cruel, too, than the previous state of ignorance. A difficult book. Beautiful.read more
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
The book consists of three long poems that are thematically related. The strongest is the first, an extended ekphrastic poem on a German artist named Matthew Grunewald. The third section takes up themes of wandering that are familiar from Sebald's novels. Though the poems have some striking images, you can tell that his real interests are in narrative and character. The novels of his that I have read are much stronger than this poetry collection.read more
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.

Reviews

This book is the english translation of the first literary work of Sebald, Nach der Natur. Ein Elementargedicht. It is an extended prose poem divided into three parts. The first is about the German Renaissance painter Matthias Grünewald, opening with his triptych on the alter of Lindenhardt parish church. The second part centers on the German naturalist Georg Wilhem Steller, a member of the Vitus Bering second Kamchatka expedition that landed in Alaska in the summer of 1741. The last part is centered on Sebald himself. The common theme that seems to run through the three parts of the book is that of human suffering, but also of the efforts of people in their quest for meaning, from which an order arises, in places beautiful and comforting, though more cruel, too, than the previous state of ignorance. A difficult book. Beautiful.
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
The book consists of three long poems that are thematically related. The strongest is the first, an extended ekphrastic poem on a German artist named Matthew Grunewald. The third section takes up themes of wandering that are familiar from Sebald's novels. Though the poems have some striking images, you can tell that his real interests are in narrative and character. The novels of his that I have read are much stronger than this poetry collection.
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
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