A Place in the Country

sebald-place-in-the-country-walser-color-spread

So, it was back to WG Sebald this week and another book, A Place in the Country. You don’t have to have read this blog the very long to know that I’m a big fan of Sebald, so anything new, after his tragic early demise, is a bonus.

Unfortunately, this isn’t a new novel, the but does Sebald even write novels anyway? They describe this book as ‘fusing biography essay, and finding, as ever, inspiration in place.’ In this text Seebaldt reflects on six of the figures who shaped him as a person and as a writer, including Rousseau, Robert Walser and Jan Peter Tripp

Like all good books, this one had me scurrying to the internet to find more about the people I was reading about, and sent me to some bookstores to order more books. I known about Rosseau and his terrible exible, but much of this text especially around Keller and Robert Walser was new to me.

But just as important for me was the way this text opened up new windows and new insight into Sebald’s own work. When talking about Robert Walsler Sebald writes: ‘I slowly learned to grasp how everything is connected across space and time … Walsler’s long walks with my own travels, dates of birth with dates of death, happiness with misfortune, natural history and history about industries…’ Sebald depicts artists, like himself, who have an interest in locality and exile. Sebald is fascinated by those who, like himself, devote their lives to literature, ‘the hapless writers trapped in a web of words’ who, in spite of everything, nevertheless ‘sometime succeed an opening up vistas of such beauty and intensity a life itself is scarcely able to provide’.

Place matters intensely for me too, but also very the ordinary detail of life that appeals to Sebald: the mundane, minute details of beauty and sadness are also here.

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2 thoughts on “A Place in the Country

  1. Hi Warrick. Good to see you still in full electronic voice. If you are about, you might care to come to the next readings in Federation Square, Melbourne, (2pm to 4pm Sat 16 Nov 013 – last reading of the year); I am to be one of three featured poets that day and would love to meet you in person as an old friend and lover of plain language in the early days of the Web. Regards, John Stokes

  2. Hi John; great to hear from you, and great to hear you’re writing and reading too. Cant’ get there this weekend (will be down on the Peninsula) but hope it goes really well.

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