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Sebald begins with Marie Henri Beyle (better known as Stendhal), cruising through the French author's painful and unreliable recollections of his military career. Then he splices in his own voyage through Italy, allowing these historical and personal perspectives to intersect when we least expect them to. As the book develops, it returns to the same locations: Milan, Verona, Venice, and the Alps. And in the course of this fractured meandering, the reader cohabits with a haunted Franz Kafka, admires the serene beauty of the stars above Lake Garda, and ultimately returns to Sebald's home in Bavaria, where the author confronts his childhood memories.
For Sebald, a straight line is never the shortest distance between two points: he more often travels in concentric circles, or cuts wild capers from past to present. Yet the stumbling journey in Vertigo seeks to replicate the distorted and unfathomable workings of memory itself. And it succeeds to an astonishing extent, so that the acts of traveling, recalling, and writing are impossible to tell apart:
On this occasion in the midst of the holiday season, the night train from Vienna to Venice, on which in the late October of 1980 I had seen nobody except a pale-faced schoolmistress from New Zealand, was so overcrowded that I had to stand in the corridor all the way or crouch uncomfortably among suitcases and rucksacks, so that instead of drifting into sleep I slid into my memories. Or rather, the memories (at least so it seemed to me) rose higher and higher in some space outside of myself, until, having reached a certain level, they overflowed from that space into me, like water over the top of a weir.Thus is the writer inundated. And so, happily, are his readers--those lucky enough to take the plunge. --Toby Green --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
This was one of the most painful books I've ever forced myself to read. Not because it's poorly written, but because I felt that it was going right over my head, and I just... Read morePublished 4 months ago by KathLDK Literogo
The novel is extremely well written and translated. Having said that, a clear plot or message is difficult to find, at least it was for this humble reader. Read morePublished 7 months ago by Rayfinder
A very odd little book that winds around the theme of memory and vertiginous feelings. The main character is un-named and tells the story of various persons and two sections are... Read morePublished 10 months ago by K.N.R.
Meandering, strange, and disassociative. Vertigo is a book about travel, the impossibility of travel, the meaning and meaningless of Place and Time, and the memorial mechanics of... Read morePublished 12 months ago by Micah Martin
Vertigo is the first of the four novel-memoirs written by WG Sebald, and also the first I have read. It is divided into four sections:
1. Read more
The first of Sebald's journeys into memory, history and so so much more. I recommend all of his books, especially this one.Published 22 months ago by A. Barnes
Sebald is a superb writer, a remarkably innovative stylist. All four of his "novels" are mesmerizing, underwhelming, profound. This, his first, is one to read and reread.Published 23 months ago by jeffrey vincent
Vertigo is a multi-threaded work that weaves a tapestry of images and sensations, a direct mind-to-mind transfusion, an extraordinary accomplishment for what are after all merely... Read morePublished on August 15, 2013 by Tom Lichtenberg