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Across the Land and the Water

Selected Poems, 1964-2001

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Paperback published by Modern Library (Random House Publishing Group)

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About This Book
“A splendid addition to an already extraordinary oeuvre.”—Teju Cole, The New Yorker
 
German-born W. G. Sebald is best known as the innovative author of Austerlitz, the prose classic of World War II culpability and conscience that put its author in the company of Nabokov, Calvino, and Borges. Now comes the first major collection of this literary master’s poems. Skillfully translated by Iain Galbraith, they range from pieces Sebald wrote as a student in the sixties to those completed right before his untimely death in 2001. In nearly one hundred poems—the majority published in English for the first time—Sebald explores his trademark themes, from nature and history, to wandering and wondering, to oblivion and memory. Soaring and searing, the poetry of W. G. Sebald is an indelible addition to his superb body of work, and this collection is bound to become a classic in its own right.
 
“How fortunate we are to have this writer’s startling imagination freshly on display once again, expressed in language honed to a perfect simplicity.”—Billy Collins
 
“A watershed volume . . . nothing less than transcendent.”—BookPage
 
“[Sebald was] a defining writer of his era.”—The New Republic
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“A splendid addition to an already extraordinary oeuvre.”—Teju Cole, The New Yorker
 
German-born W. G. Sebald is best known as the innovative author of Austerlitz, the prose classic of World War II culpability and conscience that put its author in the company of Nabokov, Calvino, and Borges. Now comes the first major collection of this literary master’s poems. Skillfully translated by Iain Galbraith, they range from pieces Sebald wrote as a student in the sixties to those completed right before his untimely death in 2001. In nearly one hundred poems—the majority published in English for the first time—Sebald explores his trademark themes, from nature and history, to wandering and wondering, to oblivion and memory. Soaring and searing, the poetry of W. G. Sebald is an indelible addition to his superb body of work, and this collection is bound to become a classic in its own right.
 
“How fortunate we are to have this writer’s startling imagination freshly on display once again, expressed in language honed to a perfect simplicity.”—Billy Collins
 
“A watershed volume . . . nothing less than transcendent.”—BookPage
 
“[Sebald was] a defining writer of his era.”—The New Republic
Product Details
Paperback (192 pages)
Published: April 9, 2013
Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
Imprint: Modern Library
ISBN: 9780812981100
Other books byW.G. Sebald
  • A Place in the Country

    A Place in the Country
    A Place in the Country is W. G. Sebald’s meditation on the six artists and writers who shaped his creative mind—and the last of this great writer’s major works to be translated into English.   This extraordinary collection of interlinked essays about place, memory, and creativity captures the inner worlds of five authors and one painter. In his masterly and mysterious style—part critical essay, part memoir—Sebald weaves their lives and art with his own migrations and rise in the literary world.   Here are people gifted with talent and courage yet in some cases cursed by fragile and unstable natures, working in countries inhospitable or even hostile to them. Jean-Jacques Rousseau is conjured on the verge of physical and mental exhaustion, hiding from his detractors on the island of St. Pierre, where two centuries later Sebald took rooms adjacent to his. Eighteenth-century author Johann Peter Hebel is remembered for his exquisite and delicate nature writing, expressing the eternal balance of both the outside world and human emotions. Writer Gottfried Keller, best known for his 1850 novel Green Henry, is praised for his prescient insights into a Germany where “the gap between self-interest and the common good was growing ever wider.”   Sebald compassionately re-creates the ordeals of Eduard Mörike, the German Romantic poet beset by mood swings, depression, and fainting spells in an increasingly shallow society, and Robert Walser, the institutionalized author whose nearly indecipherable scrawls seemed an attempt to “duck down below the level of language and obliterate himself” (and whose physical appearance and year of death mirrored those of Sebald’s grandfather). Finally, Sebald spies a cognizance of death’s inevitability in painter Jan Peter Tripp’s lovingly exact reproductions of life.   Featuring the same kinds of suggestive and unexplained illustrations that appear in his masterworks Austerlitz and The Rings of Saturn, and translated by Sebald’s colleague Jo Catling, A Place in the Country is Sebald’s unforgettable self-portrait as seen through the experiences of others, a glimpse of his own ghosts alongside those of the men who influenced him. It is an essential addition to his stunning body of work. Praise for A Place in the Country   “A Place in the Country’s publication in English is something to celebrate.”—W. S. Merwin   “Out of exquisitely attuned feeling for the past, Sebald fashioned an entirely new form of literature. I’ve read his books countless times trying to understand how he did it. In the end, I can only say that he practiced a kind of magic born out of almost supernatural sensitivity. A Place in the Country extends the too-short time we were given in his company.”—Nicole Krauss   “Few writers have traveled as quickly from obscurity to the sort of renown that yields an adjective as quickly as German writer W. G. Sebald (1944–2001), and now Sebaldian is as evocative as Kafkaesque. Sebald is that rare being: an inimitable stylist who creates extraordinary sentences that, like crystals, simultaneously refract and magnify meaning.”—Booklist “An intimate anatomy of the pathos, absurdity and perverse splendour of trying to find patterns in the chaos of the world.”—The Telegraph   “This illuminating collection shows a writer at his most inquisitive, gazing deeply under the surface of things and grappling with the difficulties of personal and collective memory.”—Financial Times

    Austerlitz

    Austerlitz
    This tenth anniversary edition of W. G. Sebald’s celebrated masterpiece includes a new Introduction by acclaimed critic James Wood. Austerlitz is the story of a man’s search for the answer to his life’s central riddle. A small child when he comes to England on a Kindertransport in the summer of 1939, Jacques Austerlitz is told nothing of his real family by the Welsh Methodist minister and his wife who raise him. When he is a much older man, fleeting memories return to him, and obeying an instinct he only dimly understands, Austerlitz follows their trail back to the world he left behind a half century before. There, faced with the void at the heart of twentieth-century Europe, he struggles to rescue his heritage from oblivion.

    After Nature

    After Nature
    After Nature, W. G. Sebald’s first literary work, now translated into English by Michael Hamburger, explores the lives of three men connected by their restless questioning of humankind’s place in the natural world. From the efforts of each, “an order arises, in places beautiful and comforting, though more cruel, too, than the previous state of ignorance.” The first figure is the great German Re-naissance painter Matthias Grünewald. The second is the Enlightenment botanist-explorer Georg Steller, who accompanied Bering to the Arctic. The third is the author himself, who describes his wanderings among landscapes scarred by the wrecked certainties of previous ages. After Nature introduces many of the themes that W. G. Sebald explored in his subsequent books. A haunting vision of the waxing and waning tides of birth and devastation that lie behind and before us, it confirms the author’s position as one of the most profound and original writers of our time. From the Hardcover edition.

    On the Natural History of Destruction

    On the Natural History of Destruction
    During World War Two, 131 German cities and towns were targeted by Allied bombs, a good number almost entirely flattened. Six hundred thousand German civilians died—a figure twice that of all American war casualties. Seven and a half million Germans were left homeless. Given the astonishing scope of the devastation, W. G. Sebald asks, why does the subject occupy so little space in Germany’s cultural memory? On the Natural History of Destruction probes deeply into this ominous silence.

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