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The Resource The rings of Saturn, W.G. Sebald ; translated from the German by Michael Hulse

The rings of Saturn, W.G. Sebald ; translated from the German by Michael Hulse

Label
The rings of Saturn
Title
The rings of Saturn
Statement of responsibility
W.G. Sebald ; translated from the German by Michael Hulse
Creator
Contributor
Author
Translator
Subject
Genre
Language
  • eng
  • ger
  • eng
Summary
A fictional account of a walking tour through England's East Anglia whose sights and sounds conjure up images of Britain's imperial past. They range from the slave trade to the Battle of Britain. By the author of The Emigrants
Member of
Tone
Writing style
Award
  • Los Angeles Times Book Prize for Fiction, 1998.
  • New York Times Notable Book, 1998
Review
  • Magill Book Review: THE RINGS OF SATURN seems less a novel than a travelogue, but it still holds the reader's attention with its examples of decomposition, a taste for which it shares with W.G. Sebald's first novel, THE EMIGRANTS (1996). Sebald himself is the main character, as well as the narrator, of THE RINGS OF SATURN, and his walking tour of East Anglia in England in 1992 provides the setting for his research along the way. What he finds so dispirits him that, in 1993, he ends up in the hospital, where the book begins and where he reflects on the seventeenth century English antiquarian Sir Thomas Browne's interest in the artifacts of death. The "Rings" in the title refer to the debris the chapters are formed by, like the rings of the planet Saturn. Towns like Lowestoft and Southwold that Sebald journeys to have all but dissolved because the fishing industry they depended on has failed; the town of Dunwich is gone altogether because the cliff it was on eroded so far inland that the town fell into the sea. The mansions and estates that Sebald visits on his tour, such as Somerleyton Hall in Lowestoft, are themselves remnants of splendor. The Ashbury house in Ireland, which Sebald recalls his visit to, is like this, and the Ashbury's themselves have nothing left to do but save dead flowers and build a boat that would sink were it launched. The other eccentrics marked by futility whom Sebald considers include his namesake St. Sebolt, who performed such miracles as crossing the Danube on his cloak; the Victorian poet Algernon Charles Swinburne, who spent his life in horror of stimulation; and the English farmer Thomas Abrams, who spent twenty years building a model of the Temple of Jerusalem without knowing what it actually looked like. Much of Sebald's focus is on the large scale dissolution caused by greed or arrogance. The decimation of the people of the Congo by King Leopold of Belgium, and the conquest of Imperial China by the British, exemplify this. Sebald ends his book with the history of silkworms. The Dowager Empress of China T'su-hsi liked them because they worked, multiplied, and died for her without question, and the economies of the West liked them because they produced riches without much expense. They show, in Sebald's mind, how human projects fail from an excess of ambition and a misuse of nature. Though Sebald finds despair in decomposition, he also finds enchantment in its details. -- Essay by Mark McCloskey.
  • /* Starred Review */ Like his much praised novel The Emigrants (1996), this new work by Sebald is steeped in melancholy. It's also highly idiosyncratic, beginning as the record of a fictional walking tour along the coast of Suffolk in southeast England before turning into a broad, rich meditation on Britain's past and the power of history. Observations en route link with psychological and historical elements to form a kind of dreamscape, the boundaries of which become increasingly hard to define, though the 17th-century naturalist and physician Thomas Browne acts as fixed point of reference. The walk starts at the remains of the fairy-tale palace known as Somerleyton Hall, once a Victorian railway king's monument to extravagance. On the nearby coastline are other ruins, from the recently foundered town of Lowestoft (where Joseph Conrad first made landfall in England), a wreck after the Thatcherite bubble burst, to the more spectacular ghost of the once-mighty port of Dunwich, which over several centuries toppled inexorably into the North Sea. Each of the sites prompts stories of Britain's past. A railway bridge, for instance, leads to the story of the odd train that once ran over it and of the train's unlikely connection with the Emperor of China and the silk trade. Turning inland, the trail leads to writer Michael Hamburger (a number of writers, most long dead, figure in the journey), whose story of flight from the Nazis in 1933 resonates with the narrator's own more recent history, and on to a disorienting sandstorm among the remains of a forest uprooted by the freak hurricane of 1987 before turning back to the history of Britain's colonial involvement in the silk trade, which binds many threads of this trek together. Erudition of this sort is too rare in American fiction, but the hypnotic appeal here has as much to do with Sebald's deft portrait of the subtle, complex relations between individual experience and the rich human firmament that gives it meaning as it does with his remarkable mastery of history. (Kirkus Reviews, April 1, 1998)
Biography type
autobiography
http://library.link/vocab/ext/novelist/bookUI
054709
Cataloging source
DLC
http://library.link/vocab/creatorDate
1944-2001
http://library.link/vocab/creatorName
Sebald, W. G.
Dewey number
833/.914
Illustrations
  • illustrations
  • maps
Index
no index present
LC call number
PT2681.E18
LC item number
R56 1998
Literary form
non fiction
http://library.link/vocab/relatedWorkOrContributorDate
1955-
http://library.link/vocab/relatedWorkOrContributorName
Hulse, Michael
http://library.link/vocab/resourcePreferred
True
http://library.link/vocab/subjectName
  • Sebald, W. G.
  • Authors, German
  • England
Target audience
adult
Label
The rings of Saturn, W.G. Sebald ; translated from the German by Michael Hulse
Instantiates
Publication
Carrier category
volume
Carrier category code
  • nc
Carrier MARC source
rdacarrier
Content category
text
Content type code
  • txt
Content type MARC source
rdacontent
Dimensions
22 cm
Extent
296 pages
Isbn
9780811213783
Lccn
97047578
Media category
unmediated
Media MARC source
rdamedia
Media type code
  • n
Other physical details
illustrations, map
System control number
  • 38132607
  • (OCoLC)38132607
Label
The rings of Saturn, W.G. Sebald ; translated from the German by Michael Hulse
Publication
Carrier category
volume
Carrier category code
  • nc
Carrier MARC source
rdacarrier
Content category
text
Content type code
  • txt
Content type MARC source
rdacontent
Dimensions
22 cm
Extent
296 pages
Isbn
9780811213783
Lccn
97047578
Media category
unmediated
Media MARC source
rdamedia
Media type code
  • n
Other physical details
illustrations, map
System control number
  • 38132607
  • (OCoLC)38132607

Library Locations

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      515 Scotland Street, Williamsburg, VA, 23185, US
      37.377573 -76.770995
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