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The Rings of Saturn Paperback – November 8, 2016
"Devoted" by Dean Koontz
For the first time in paperback, from Dean Koontz, the master of suspense, comes an epic thriller about a terrifying killer and the singular compassion it will take to defeat him. | Learn more
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- Roberta Silman, The New York Times Book Review
“Out of exquisitely attuned feeling for the past, Sebald fashioned an entirely new form of literature. I've read his books countless times trying to understand how he did it. In the end, I can only say that he practiced a kind of magic born out of almost supernatural sensitivity.”
- Nicole Krauss
“He is an addiction, and, once button-holed by his books, you have neither the wish nor the will to tear yourself away.”
- Anthony Lane, The New Yorker
“An extraordinary palimpsest of nature, human, and literary history.”
- Merle Rubin, The Wall Street Journal
“In Sebald's writing, everything is connected, everything webbed together by the unseen threads of history, or chance, or fate, or death... beautiful and unsettling, elevated into an art of the uncanny―an art that was, in the end, Sebald's strange and inscrutable gift.”
“Think of W.G. Sebald as memory's Einstein.”
- Richard Eder, Los Angeles Times
“This is very beautiful, and its strangeness is what is beautiful... One of the most mysteriously sublime of contemporary writers. And here, in The Rings of Saturn, is a book more uncanny than The Emigrants.”
- James Wood, The New Republic
- Cynthia Ozick
“The first thing to be said about W. G. Sebald's books is that they always had a posthumous quality to them. He wrote―as was often remarked―like a ghost. He was one of the most innovative writers of the late twentieth century, and yet part of this originality derived from the way his prose felt exhumed from the nineteenth.”
- Geoff Dyer
“Few writers have traveled as quickly from obscurity to the sort of renown that yields an adjective as quickly as German writer W. G. Sebald (1944 - 2001), and now Sebaldian is as evocative as Kafkaesque. Sebald is that rare being: an inimitable stylist who creates extraordinary sentences that, like crystals, simultaneously refract and magnify meaning.”
About the Author
W. G. Sebald was born in Germany in 1944 and died in 2001. He is the author of The Emigrants, The Rings of Saturn, Vertigo, Austerlitz, After Nature, On the Natural History of Destruction, Unrecounted and Campo Santo.
Michael Hulse is an English translator, critic, and poet. Hulse has translated more than sixty books from the German.
- Item Weight : 12 ounces
- Paperback : 304 pages
- ISBN-10 : 0811226158
- ISBN-13 : 978-0811226158
- Product Dimensions : 5.5 x 0.9 x 8 inches
- Publisher : New Directions; Reprint Edition (November 8, 2016)
- Language: : English
- Best Sellers Rank: #36,160 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
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On the front cover of the paperback edition, there is a quote from Robert Silman of the New York Times Book Review: "Stunning and strange...like a dream you want to last forever." For once, I can agree with one of these tags appended to a book--in spirit at least. Despite the fact that Sebald's style does not immediately take me in, I can think of few authors whose works linger with me longer than his. And it lingers with me precisely in the same way that a dream will--not a good dream, nor a nightmare, but the vaguely unsettling sort that seem to signify something very important if only I could unravel it, grasp it, shake it, demand that it explain itself. That, at any rate, was how I found THE EMIGRANTS, and also I felt that I sensed it in his incomplete writings about Corsica, in CAMPO SANTO. AUSTERLITZ was a bit more linear, with more of a central thread holding it together--and VERTIGO was too diffuse--to recreate this same dream effect, so when I finally got to THE RINGS OF SATURN, I was hoping for another experience similar to THE EMIGRANTS, which still lingers with me today.
THE RINGS OF SATURN is very good, compelling at times, anecdotally interesting, and completely worthwhile to someone looking for a change from traditional styles or narratives. I do think Sebald requires more patience than most writers--you are not going to get anywhere fast with Sebald, and the question might be if, by book's end, you gotten anywhere at all. But the journey is introspective rather than physical, a journey that looks to tease out unexpected relationships, and, I feel, designed to pull Sebald--and his readers, by proxy--into communion with his fellows. Despite the friendships he describes between himself and others--some of which sound quite enviable--the sense I get from any book by Sebald is a terrible aloneness, of someone swimming in a void who looks to any point of light for relief, but is resigned to his solitude.
By all accounts, Sebald is not cheery, though I wouldn't call him depressing either. Affecting, I think, is the word I would use. And while I would still consider THE EMIGRANTS to be the best of Sebald, I also know that THE RINGS OF SATURN is on my short list of novels that I'll re-read someday, which, given the fact that the time I have left is limited, and that there are so many books to read the FIRST time still out there, puts RINGS into a very exclusive strata.
I've read it three times now. Each time, I have experienced it more richly, and more of it has become a part of me. Sebald's ability is second to none. Of all his works, this is perhaps the most unconventional. I read it first before reading his other novels, though I'm not sure that's what I would advise someone else to do. I think The Emigrants might be the best place to start with him. But I read this one first.
I won't repeat the premise. I will say that it is a book about metamorphosis, creation and destruction as two sides of the same coin, and the connection between the personal and the historical. For Sebald, the passage of time destroys. Sebald's characters struggle to remember, as the past fades. Yet, the effects of the past are all around us- They literally are the present.
Sebald deals with people who feel they don't belong anywhere, who have no homeland. People who history has left behind, people in exile.
This book has some of the most beautiful, elegiac prose I have read, and has become a part of how I look at and think about the world.
Top reviews from other countries
His constant leaps of consciousness from what he was viewing to what he was remembering from an impressively erudite past became increasingly compelling. I learned much of fascination.