W. G. Sebald  

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

W. G. (Winfred Georg Maximilian) Sebald (May 18, 1944, Wertach im AllgäuDecember 14, 2001, Norfolk, United Kingdom) was a German writer and academic.


Sebald's works are largely concerned with the theme of memory, both personal and collective. They are in particular attempts to reconcile himself with, and deal in literary terms with, the trauma of the Second World War and its effect on the German people. In On the Natural History of Destruction he wrote a major essay on the wartime bombing of German cities, and the absence in German writing of any real response. His concern with the Holocaust is expressed in several books delicately tracing his own biographical connections with Jews.

His distinctive and innovative novels were written in German, but are well-known in excellent English translations, principally by Anthea Bell and Michael Hulse, which he supervised closely. They include Austerlitz, The Rings of Saturn, The Emigrants, and Vertigo. They are notable for their curious and wide-ranging mixture of fact (or apparent fact), recollection and fiction, often punctuated by indistinct black-and-white photographs, which are set in evocative counterpoint to the narrative rather than illustrating it directly. All of his novels are presented as observations and recollections made by Sebald while travelling around parts of Europe. They include a dry, mischievous sense of humour.

Sebald is also the author of three books of poetry: For Years Now (2001), After Nature (1998), and Unrecounted (2004).


The works of Jorge Luis Borges were one of Sebald's influences, especially "The Garden of Forking Paths" and "Tlön, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius". Sebald references Tlön in The Rings of Saturn.

Other influences included contemporary scientific writing and the following authors and books:

Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "W. G. Sebald" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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