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When German author W. G. Sebald died in a car accident at the age of fifty-seven, the literary world mourned the loss of a writer whose oeuvre it was just beginning to appreciate. Through published interviews with and essays on Sebald, award-winning translator and author Lynne Sharon Schwartz offers a profound portrait of the writer, who has been praised posthumously for his unflinching explorations of historical cruelty, memory, and dislocation.
With contributions from poet, essayist, and translator Charles Simic, New Republic editor Ruth Franklin, Bookworm radio host Michael Silverblatt, and more, The Emergence of Memory offers Sebald’s own voice in interviews between 1997 up to a month before his death in 2001. Also included are cogent accounts of almost all of Sebald’s books, thematically linked to events in the contributors’ own lives.
Contributors include Carole Angier, Joseph Cuomo, Ruth Franklin, Michael Hofmann, Arthur Lubow, Tim Parks, Michael Silverblatt, Charles Simic, and Eleanor Wachtel.
Published: Random House Publishing Group on
ISBN: 9781609800611
List price: $14.99
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I received a copy of The Emergence of Memory: Conversations with W. G. Sebald, edited by Lynne Sharon Schwartz, through LibraryThing's Early Reviewers program. Many thanks to the publisher, Seven Stories Press, and to LibraryThing, for the chance to obtain and review this book.When I found out I'd won this book through the ER program, I felt guilty for requesting it, because I've never read anything by W. G. Sebald. However, now that I've read the book, I'm so glad I requested and won it. Sebald's work sounds difficult, experimental, hard to define, but very fascinating.The collection contains several interviews with the writer, as the subtitle states, but also several essays and reviews, and a solid introduction by the editor, Lynne Sharon Schwartz. The interviews introduce a very intelligent, humane, and likeable writer. He was serious about his work and the topics he explored, but the interviews show that Sebald had a sense of humor as well. I also found the essays to be interesting and thought-provoking: not mere book reviews, nor academic criticism heavy with literary theory, but engaging essays for serious readers.One of the essays, by Michael Hofmann, is not complimentary, and that's a good piece for Schwartz to include. Because Sebald's themes were complex, his methods unusual and experimental, his books are not for everyone. Moreover, any artist who explores the rough edges of the canvas, who tries to stretch the boundaries of what is expected and accepted, is likely to stumble at times. As Schwartz says in the introduction, the "vulnerabilities" in Sebald's work that Hofmann discusses "are real and should be taken into account in any assessment of his work."Having been introduced to Sebald before being introduced to his writing, in a sense, I hope to read one or two of his books for myself before too long, with The Emergence of Memory near at hand to redirect me if I start to get lost. Fans of Sebald's books will certainly want to read this collection and likely enjoy it. In my case, I think I'll understand and appreciate Sebald's works a good deal more because I read this book first.more
A series of short interviews and essays on the German writer W. S. Sebald--which lend much insight into his thinking and the creative process behind his work. The more recognizable names being the British novelist/Italian translator Tim Parks and the Yugolslavian born American poet Charles Simic. Sebald, of courses, died abruptly in December 2001 in an automobile accident. In a rather short space of time before he had rocketed upward from obscurity to a kind of international fame with a series of books many of which related back to World World and specifically the holocaust. If anything the essays and interviews make clear it's Sebald's alienation from his own German culture--one that in his mind preferred to forget rather than to confront its past. This disenfranchisement the reason behind his voluntary exile in England a place to which he admits he is out of place. FWIW his voice is always lucid, his reasoning is open and very often quite humorous. Whether or not this book edited by Lynne Sharon Schwartz gets to the essence of what Sebald's work was about I at least feel a lot closer. It is a good read and for Sebald fans I think it would be a must.more
This the next best thing I've found to reading Sebald himself. It is especially gratifying to find so many others excited about this author. There is something about the way he writes, mysteriously but beautifully. Lynne Sharon Schwartz's collection helps me understand Sebald but does not take away any of his beauty or mystery.more
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Reviews

I received a copy of The Emergence of Memory: Conversations with W. G. Sebald, edited by Lynne Sharon Schwartz, through LibraryThing's Early Reviewers program. Many thanks to the publisher, Seven Stories Press, and to LibraryThing, for the chance to obtain and review this book.When I found out I'd won this book through the ER program, I felt guilty for requesting it, because I've never read anything by W. G. Sebald. However, now that I've read the book, I'm so glad I requested and won it. Sebald's work sounds difficult, experimental, hard to define, but very fascinating.The collection contains several interviews with the writer, as the subtitle states, but also several essays and reviews, and a solid introduction by the editor, Lynne Sharon Schwartz. The interviews introduce a very intelligent, humane, and likeable writer. He was serious about his work and the topics he explored, but the interviews show that Sebald had a sense of humor as well. I also found the essays to be interesting and thought-provoking: not mere book reviews, nor academic criticism heavy with literary theory, but engaging essays for serious readers.One of the essays, by Michael Hofmann, is not complimentary, and that's a good piece for Schwartz to include. Because Sebald's themes were complex, his methods unusual and experimental, his books are not for everyone. Moreover, any artist who explores the rough edges of the canvas, who tries to stretch the boundaries of what is expected and accepted, is likely to stumble at times. As Schwartz says in the introduction, the "vulnerabilities" in Sebald's work that Hofmann discusses "are real and should be taken into account in any assessment of his work."Having been introduced to Sebald before being introduced to his writing, in a sense, I hope to read one or two of his books for myself before too long, with The Emergence of Memory near at hand to redirect me if I start to get lost. Fans of Sebald's books will certainly want to read this collection and likely enjoy it. In my case, I think I'll understand and appreciate Sebald's works a good deal more because I read this book first.more
A series of short interviews and essays on the German writer W. S. Sebald--which lend much insight into his thinking and the creative process behind his work. The more recognizable names being the British novelist/Italian translator Tim Parks and the Yugolslavian born American poet Charles Simic. Sebald, of courses, died abruptly in December 2001 in an automobile accident. In a rather short space of time before he had rocketed upward from obscurity to a kind of international fame with a series of books many of which related back to World World and specifically the holocaust. If anything the essays and interviews make clear it's Sebald's alienation from his own German culture--one that in his mind preferred to forget rather than to confront its past. This disenfranchisement the reason behind his voluntary exile in England a place to which he admits he is out of place. FWIW his voice is always lucid, his reasoning is open and very often quite humorous. Whether or not this book edited by Lynne Sharon Schwartz gets to the essence of what Sebald's work was about I at least feel a lot closer. It is a good read and for Sebald fans I think it would be a must.more
This the next best thing I've found to reading Sebald himself. It is especially gratifying to find so many others excited about this author. There is something about the way he writes, mysteriously but beautifully. Lynne Sharon Schwartz's collection helps me understand Sebald but does not take away any of his beauty or mystery.more
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