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Across the Land and the Water: Selected Poems, 1964-2001 (Modern Library) Hardcover – Deckle Edge, March 27, 2012

4.7 out of 5 stars 3 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


Praise for W. G. Sebald
“How fortunate we are to have this writer’s startling imagination freshly on display once again, and now in poetry.  ACROSS THE LAND AND THE WATER is a rich collection full of little mysteries, unnerving insights, and odd reflections, all expressed in language honed to a perfect simplicity.  ‘The Three Wise Men/Are walking the earth,’ his lines go, and at least one of them is W.G. Sebald.” -- Billy Collins, former United States Poet Laureate

"A significant addition to Sebald's main achievement – full of things that are beautiful and fascinating in themselves, and which cast a revealing light on the evolution and content of his prose . . . . an important book." -- The Guardian UK
"Now with the publication of Across the Land and the Water: Selected Poems 1962-2001 , thanks to the translation and scholarship of Iain Galbraith, Sebald readers can hear the master’s voice again and see in distilled form the Sebald landscape, as if for the first time...Sebald reminds me of the humanist tradition of Günter Grass or Heinrich Böll, company he unquestionably belongs to as poet, essayist and prose writer, one of the great artists of our time." -- The Irish Times
"This selection of W G (Max) Sebald’s poems will be treasure trove to his admirers. Brilliantly translated by Iain Galbraith . . . it includes works from the whole length of his creative life, cut short far too early in December 2001... In fact, read them all, and more than once. I would suggest reading the poems straight through first, then again side by side with Galbraith’s notes – seldom is a set of notes to a text so entertaining in itself – and then for a third time. Three readings, I can assure anyone, will be no hardship." -- Literary Review UK
"As in his prose, the poems invest every landscape with an archaeologist's sense of the pain, toil and loss secreted in each layer of soil. Always an inveterate 'Border Crosser' – between lands, ages, moods, poetry and prose, history and fiction – he seeks 'to register/ what we have forgotten' . . . the wonderful alchemy via which Sebald transmuted the found material of actual biography and history into fiction that kept faith with truth explains much of his appeal." -- The Independent UK
"Preoccupied with memory, desire and the ghostliness of objects, Sebald can evoke in one poem the faded glamour of 'a forgotten era/of fountains and chandeliers' or a 'turn-of-the-century/frock-coat and taffeta bow' while in another he will speak of an 'ugly/tower block' or 'moribund supermarkets'. This shift between differing eras could seem forced or artificial. And yet Sebald manages such movement with a lightness of touch...Even in a seemingly simple six-line poem, the sudden weight of historical events can be felt." -- The Economist UK
“Is literary greatness still possible? What would a noble literary enterprise look like? One of the few answers available to English-speaking readers is the work of W. G. Sebald.”—Susan Sontag
“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 no art.”—Richard Eder, The New York Times Book Review
“Sebald is a rare and elusive species . . . but still, he is an easy read, just as Kafka is. . . . He is an addiction, and once buttonholed by his books, you have neither the wish nor the will to tear yourself away.”—Anthony Lane, The New Yorker
“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 longer speak.”—Charles Simic, The New York Review of Books

About the Author

W. G. Sebald was born in Wertach im Allgäu, Germany, in 1944. He studied German language and literature in Freiburg, Switzerland, and Manchester. He taught at the University of East Anglia in Norwich, England, for thirty years, becoming professor of European literature in 1987, and from 1989 to 1994 was the first director of the British Centre for Literary Translation. His previously translated books—The Rings of Saturn, The Emigrants, Vertigo, and Austerlitz—have won a number of international awards, including the National Book Critics Circle Award, the Los Angeles Times Book Award, the Berlin Literature Prize, and the LiteraTour Nord Prize. He died in December 2001.
Iain Galbraith was born in Glasgow in 1956 and studied modern languages and comparative literature at the universities of Cambridge, Freiburg, and Mainz, where he taught for several years. He has edited works by Stevenson, Hogg, Scott, Boswell, and Conrad, and contributed essays to many books and journals in the U.K., France, and Germany. He is a widely published translator of German-language writing, especially poetry, into English, winning the John Dryden Prize for Literary Translation in 2004.

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Product Details

  • Series: Modern Library
  • Hardcover: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Random House; 1st US ed, 1st ptg edition (March 27, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1400068908
  • ISBN-13: 978-1400068906
  • Product Dimensions: 5.9 x 0.9 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,285,343 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Top Customer Reviews

By Shalom Freedman HALL OF FAME on July 12, 2012
Format: Hardcover
If a writer produces mysteries and lines of suggestion which move one to thoughts and feelings one did not know one had then perhaps that writer is worth rereading and trying to understand again. The mysterious enigmatic Sebald with his endless journeys and varied memories and misperceptions provides always hints which the mind strives to read into 'sense' but most often is less puzzled by. Why write a memoir as a travelogue or a fiction as a set of imaginary recollections in which characters well- documented appear and disappear most strangely and incredibly?
Sebald is a writer one can be disturbed by truly. For he always gives the sense that he intends far more , knows far more than you as a reader can possibly understand.
Still just as in his more esteemed prose there radiates from his poetry a feeling that what has been dreamed by him in his creation is something the human imagination is enhanced by.
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Format: Hardcover
Unlike a lot of people whose introduction to the writing of W.G. Sebald was through books such as Rings of Saturn, Austerlitz, or Vertigo, mine was through the Micropoems in Unrecounted, a slim volume of thirty three poems, with accompanying lithographs by Jan Peter Tripp. So when I saw this Selected poems at NetGalley my curiosity was piqued and I requested it wondering whether without the pictures the poetry featured would be as hermetic or whether the act of trying to match the image with the poem was the lock that forbade admittance.

Published a decade after his death, this anthology pulls together poetry from various periods of his life. Stretching over 37 years it contains poems from two early collections Poemtrees and School Latin, these are followed by his later writing Across the Land and the Water and The Year Before Last ending with the appendix containing two poems Sebald wrote in English, making this a wonderful addition to any Sebald completist's library.

If, on the rare occasion, I get to interview someone who writes novels & poetry, one of my default questions is how they perceive themselves, a poet who turned to fiction, or as a novelist first. This question seems to me relevant when dealing with the work of this writer & better still seems to have been answered by Iain Galbraith (translator notes), who writes - Sebald once stated that "My medium is prose", a statement that is easily misconstrued, if it wasn't for the subtle distinction added by this writer "Not the Novel", in fact Galbraith goes on to say that " far from disavowing his fondness for the poetic form, it is through it that we can begin to sense the poetic consistency that permeates his literary prose and also of his writing as a whole.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Sebald has been wowing us for years with his brand of postmodern fiction written as if by a 19th century polymath, but few are aware he was also a great, understated poet. This book collects a range of poems from throughout Sebald's writing life, many of them haunted by Germany's dark past; a fact which the poet wrestles with in concise, haunted language. The translation is excellent. Sebald's first book, After Nature, was written in the form of a long poem. There's nothing approaching that length here, mainly short lyric poems, but they are of a stellar quality and highly recommended.
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