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The Emergence of Memory: Conversations with W.G. Sebald [Kindle Edition]

W.G. Sebald , Lynne Sharon Schwartz
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)

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Book Description

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.

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

LYNNE SHARON SCHWARTZ is the author of fourteen works of fiction, nonfiction, and poetry, as well as the widely acclaimed memoir, Ruined by Reading. Her first novel, Rough Strife (1981), was shortlisted for a National Book Award and a PEN/Hemingway First Novel Award while her Leaving Brooklyn (1989) was nominated for the PEN/Faulkner Award in Fiction. She won the 1991 PEN Renato Pogglioli Award for her translation from the Italian of Smoke Over Birkenau, by Liana Millu. Schwartz is a native and current New Yorker.

Product Details

  • File Size: 238 KB
  • Print Length: 180 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 1583227857
  • Publisher: Seven Stories Press; 1 edition (January 4, 2011)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B003R7KZXA
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #466,549 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
52 of 56 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Read Sebald First, of Course! June 10, 2008
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This is NOT a stand-alone introduction. If you have not read at least two of W.G. Sebald's books, either in German or in English translation, STOP! Don't read this review and certainly don't read Lynne Sharon Scwartz's thin compendium of magazine pieces about Sebald before encountering the man himself!

The first Sebald publication in English was The Emigrants, and I'd strongly recommend it as a starting point for new readers. The translation by Michael Hulse is extremely fine, rendering the nuances of Sebald's deliberately hesitant, gently old-fashioned prose in equally modest yet evocative English. Sebald's longest and most novelistic book, Austerlitz, was his last finished work; I like the translation less, but I'm in awe of the accomplishment, both from a literary and an emotional viewpoint. Read Austerlitz second, and then if you're not similarly awed, you'll scarcely need to look at "the emergence of memory".

Memory is both Sebald's subject and his tool. Memory is the whole person, and yet memory is both partial and selective, so that no one can ever be entirely whole. As long as memory persists, no one is entirely absent, either, since memory is a clouded looking glass between the living and the dead. Sebald's narrative style operates as a kind of rummaging in memory - his own and others - as the author/narrator recounts the efforts of others to recapture the meaning of memories and remembered artifacts. One memory often blunders upon another in Sebald's highly parenthetical style. Coincidences and chances reveal unsuspected channels of memory. Memory is the only wall against final mortality.

Sebald was in his mid forties when he wrote his first book, a prose poem titled After Nature in its English translation.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Recommended, but with a caveat December 15, 2009
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
First, the caveat (and I see that I am repeating the previous reviewer in this respect): If you haven't already read two or three of the prose narratives of W.G. Sebald, this book will be virtually meaningless to you. If, however, you have read three or all four of the major works -- "Vertigo", "The Emigrants", "The Rings of Saturn", and "Austerlitz" -- then it is likely you will find that THE EMERGENCE OF MEMORY provides an instructive gloss on that reading experience.

The book collects five transcribed interviews with Sebald and five (including the introduction) articles about him and his work. The interviews are more interesting and enjoyable than the articles, in large part because we get to hear Sebald himself. He comes across as having been very affable, a bit reserved but certainly not aloof, and all in all decent and thoughtful and articulate, even in his second language of English.

Both in the interviews and the articles, the discussion does not smack too much of academic literary commentary. Thank Goodness! I just finished reading the four major prose narratives for the second time, and I thought that afterwards I would browse in several secondary books of commentary in the hope that they would enrich or broaden my reading experience. With three of them, I could not read more than ten or fifteen pages. (The state and quality of academic literary criticism, at least for the general reader, has not improved appreciably in the 35 years since I was in college.) THE EMERGENCE OF MEMORY and one other ("Searching for Sebald: Photography after W.G. Sebald" -- which I hope to review in the next week or so) were the only worthwhile ones.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Average Collection August 16, 2010
W.G. Sebald was among the most remarkable of European writers to emerge from Europe over the last 20 years, and this brief compendium of articles gives you an idea of his brilliance and talents, which were taken from us all too soon. I cannot say that all of the articles in here are good-Ruth Franklin's critique of Sebald's approach to the Holocaust is embarrassingly immature. However, one does get the full pantheon of Sebald's influences here, as well as a good idea of his creative process. Worth looking at of course, but for the real thing, simply turn to Sebald's books.
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4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Early contender hits the mark September 3, 2012
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
With the growing recognition of W.G. 'Max' Sebald as one of the most important writers of our time, there has been a rush on the part of literary experts to wade in on interpretation of his work. This early collection relies primarily on direct contact with the master, including reviews done with him before his accidental death and essays by those who actually knew him. Unlike much of the material published in the last decade, this book is in English, so is accessible to English-language readers of Sebald. Since he lived, taught, and wrote in England, this book being in English requires no great compromise. In fact, I have found it the single most useful book on Sebald not by Sebald.
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