The Rings of Saturn
- New Directions
- 2016ISBN 9780811226158
- 304 pages
Translated from the German by Michael Hulse
The Rings of Saturn, with its curious archive of photographs, records a walking tour of the eastern coast of England. A few of the things that cross the path and mind of its narrator (who both is and is not Sebald) are lonely eccentrics. Rembrandt’s “Anatomy Lesson”, the natural history of the herring, Borges, a matchstick model of the Temple of Jerusalem, Sir Thomas Browne’s skull, recession-hit seaside towns, Joseph Conrad, the once-thriving silk industry of Norwich, Swinburne, the dowager Empress Tzu Hsi, and the massive bombings of WWII.Mesmerized by the mutability of all things, the narrator catalogs the transmigration of whole worlds: “On every new thing, there lies already the shadow of annihilation.”
W. G. Sebald was born Winfried George Maximillian Sebald in Wertach im Allgäu, in the Bavarian Alps in 1944. From 1975 he taught at the University of East Anglia, became Professor of German in 1986, and was the first director of the British Centre for Translation. He won the Berlin Literature, Literatur Nord, and Mörike Prizes, as well as the Johannes Bobrowski medal, plus the Los Angeles Times Book Award for Fiction (The Rings of Saturn). New Directions was the first to publish his book here: The Rings of Saturn, The Emigrants, and Vertigo. He died in an automobile accident in Norfolk, England, near his home in Norwich in East Anglia, England, on December 14, 2001.