Just finished reading Austerlitz,

and everything the reviews

say is true. Sebald

really did manage to come up with a whole new genre of book, neither

memoir nor novel nor concatenation of postmodern digressions. Austerlitz

is a great and haunting work, but I shall leave the superlatives and

the exegesis to the professionals. I would just like to point out

a parallel which seems obvious to me but which I haven’t seen drawn

elsewhere: to the post-war German artist Anselm Kiefer. Both Germans

reinvented their artforms in order to deal with WWII and its aftermath,

the guilt-ridden silence into which much of Germany fell. Austerlitz

was written by an expatriate German and centers on an Anglified Jew

who never sets foot in Germany or learns about the Holocaust until

well into middle age. It is hard not to see Austerlitz’s inability

to face up to his past – something which accounts for his neurasthenia

and eventual nervous breakdown – as an allegory for Germany as

a whole.

Austerlitz had another effect on me, too: I intend to go out

later today and purchase a small pocket camera which I can load with

black and white film and carry around with me at all times, in much

the same way as Sebald did. My little Canon APS camera is better for

snapshots, and my 35mm compact is too slow, what with all its autofocus

nonsense and tendency to turn itself on by mistake, dirtying the lens.

I’m thinking of getting an old-fashioned rangefinder. There’s a Japanese

one I’ve got my eye on: I think I’ll check it out before my Spanish

class this afternoon.

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One Response to Austerlitz

  1. Mary says:

    Austerlitz seems very interesting. I will give some other time to open the link of that book. It really got my interest.

    Mary from Épilation intégrale 

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