Sunday, 12 August 2007


AUTHOR: W G Sebald


DATE READ: August 2007

NOTES: In 1939 a five year old is sent from Prague to Wales to escape the imminent disaster. He soon forgets all of his previous life and grows up knowing nothing of his past. However in adulthood he comes he is haunted by his unknown identity and by his absence of memories. The loveless Welsh household and the harsh private school are superbly described.

The book is narrated by someone who meets Austerlitz in Belgium. Their friendship continues and they meet up occasionally and Austerlitz continues to tell of the progress he has made. The writing is atmospheric and haunting – goes off into reveries on architecture, fortifications, moths, museum exhibits, maps, etc etc. I have to confess I found some of these quite irritating – and some of the vocabulary seemed deliberately esoteric…….

Austerlitz took photographs continually and the book is liberally illustrated by these. Many are very badly reproduced (deliberately?) and I am not sure how much they finally contributed to the overall narrative.

The reviews were glowing but this book is not one I would want to return to.

1 comment:

Wynne said...

I found that images from this book came back to haunt me days after I had finished it..... perhaps it was better than I gave it credit for!