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The Rings of Saturn by W. G. Sebald

The Rings of Saturn (1995)

by W. G. Sebald

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
1,923473,552 (4.21)105
Recently added bydorothean, ShawIslandLibrary, private library, rrhys, kferrand, bethanysea, vbradford, mkimarnold, EmmyC
Legacy LibrariesLeslie Scalapino
  1. 10
    Lights out for the territory: 9 excursions in the secret history of London by Iain Sinclair (TMrozewski)
    TMrozewski: Books about walking, history, and reflection. Similar narrative tropes.
  2. 00
    Danube by Claudio Magris (defaults)
  3. 00
    Findings by Kathleen Jamie (chrisharpe)
  4. 00
    Suspended Sentences by Patrick Modiano (Lori_Eshleman)
  5. 00
    Wildwood: A Journey Through Trees by Roger Deakin (chrisharpe)
  6. 01
    Wittgenstein's Mistress by David Markson (michaeljohn)
    michaeljohn: Both novels—each nontraditional and singular in form—feature a narrator wandering in a desolate landscape. Both narrators also show a similar propensity for historical digression.
  7. 02
    Death in Holy Orders by P. D. James (thorold)
    thorold: You can't get much more conventional than an English murder mystery, or much more experimental than Sebald's unclassifiable prose works, but these two books do seem to have a bit more in common than their setting on the Suffolk coast. An odd mixture of gloom and playfulness, a refusal quite to reveal what's in the writer's mind...… (more)

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» See also 105 mentions

English (43)  Dutch (3)  German (1)  All languages (47)
Showing 1-5 of 43 (next | show all)
This is a very peculiar book with grainy black-and-white photos, and precise recollections of memories of uncertain origin, mixed in with extraordinary historical artifacts. It is also self-referential in that it is written in the first-person and reviews itself: "entangled in contradictions in such a way that few readers -- very few readers -- would be able to grasp the hidden, horrific, yet at the same time quite meaningless point of the narrative." [End of section III] Highly recommended, when you are in the mood for beautiful and melancholic passages. ( )
  rsvp | Apr 7, 2016 |
I agree with so many of the reviews here that I won't add another one, but I will suggest that having read it that you watch the film 'Patience (following Sebald), which is a beautiful accompaniment. ( )
  Colin531 | Feb 9, 2016 |
That it was genreless was interesting. I did like the weaving together of histories and peoples, and it was true that everything seemed like a dream. But listening to other people's dreams is dull. Rambling nonsense. I suspect a correlation between people who like this, people who like Moby Dick, and people who are happy to let confused and incoherent babblers waste their time! Your time is precious - how can you stand this! ( )
  jculkin | Feb 1, 2016 |
Um livro diferente. Não há uma história. O autor faz uma viagem pela costa da Inglaterra, apenas como motivo para uma série de pensamentos, como que associações de idéias, cujo objetivo não fica imediatamente claro ao leitor. Um livro com uma ação (a viagem) datada, mas que é, ao mesmo tempo, atemporal, com uma ação localizada, mas que é, também, deslocalizado. Ao fim, não quis vê-lo terminado. ( )
1 vote Ursula.Wetzel | Jan 13, 2015 |
Showing 1-5 of 43 (next | show all)
The Rings of Saturn, perplexing, turgid, and unreadable book that it so frequently is, is saddled with a problem it cannot resolve or even address: that of the dislodged identity.
added by jburlinson | editNew York Review of Books, André Aciman (pay site) (Dec 3, 1998)

» Add other authors (16 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
W. G. Sebaldprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Charvát, RadovanTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Hulse, MichaelTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Il faut surtout pardonner a ces ames malheureuses qui ont elu de faire le pelerinage a pied, qui cotoient le rivage et regardent sans comprendre l'horreur de la lutte, la joie de vaincre ni le profond desespoir des vaincus.
Joseph Conrad
The rings of Saturn consist of ice crystals and probably meteorite particles describing circular orbits around the planet's equator. In all likelihood these are the fragments of a former moon that was too close to the planet and was destroyed by its tidal effect ( -> Roche limit).
Brockhaus Encyclopaedia
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In August 1992, when the dog days were drawing to an end, I set off to walk the county of Suffolk, in the hope of dispelling the emptiness that takes hold of me whenever I have completed a long stint of work.
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0811214133, Paperback)

In August 1992, W.G. Sebald set off on a walking tour of Suffolk, one of England's least populated and most striking counties. A long project--presumably The Emigrants, his great anatomy of exile, loss, and identity--had left him spent. Initially his tour was a carefree one. Soon, however, Sebald was to happen upon "traces of destruction, reaching far back into the past," in a series of encounters so intense that a year later he found himself in a state of collapse in a Norwich hospital.

The Rings of Saturn is his record of these travels, a phantasmagoria of fragments and memories, fraught with dizzying knowledge and desperation and shadowed by mortality. As in The Emigrants, past and present intermingle: the living come to seem like supernatural apparitions while the dead are vividly present. Exemplary sufferers such as Joseph Conrad and Roger Casement people the author's solitude along with various eccentrics and even an occasional friend. Indeed, one of the most moving chapters concerns his fellow German exile--the writer Michael Hamburger.

"How is it that one perceives oneself in another human being, or, if not oneself, then one's own precursor?" Sebald asks. "The fact that I first passed through British customs thirty-three years after Michael, that I am now thinking of giving up teaching as he did, that I am bent over my writing in Norfolk and he in Suffolk, that we both are distrustful of our work and both suffer from an allergy to alcohol--none of these things are particularly strange. But why it was that on my first visit to Michael's house I instantly felt as if I lived or had once lived there, in every respect precisely as he does, I cannot explain. All I know is that I stood spellbound in his high-ceilinged studio room with its north-facing windows in front of the heavy mahogany bureau at which Michael said he no longer worked because the room was so cold, even in midsummer..."

Sebald seems most struck by those who lived or live quietly in adversity, "the shadow of annihilation" always hanging over them. The appropriately surnamed George Wyndham Le Strange, for example, remained on his vast property in increasing isolation, his life turning into a series of colorful anecdotes. He was "reputed to have been surrounded, in later years, by all manner of feathered creatures: by guinea fowl, pheasants, pigeons and quail, and various kinds of garden and song birds, strutting about him on the floor or flying around in the air. Some said that one summer Le Strange dug a cave in his garden and sat in it day and night like St. Jerome in the desert."

In Sebald's eyes, even the everyday comes to seem extraterrestrial--a vision intensified in Michael Hulse's beautiful rendition. His complex, allusive sentences are encased in several-pages-long paragraphs--style and subject making for painful, exquisite reading. Though most often hypersensitive to human (and animal) suffering and making few concessions to obligatory cheeriness, Sebald is not without humor. At one point, paralyzed by the presence of the past, he admits: "I bought a carton of chips at McDonald's, where I felt like a criminal wanted worldwide as I stood at the brightly lit counter, and ate them as I walked back to my hotel." The Rings of Saturn is a challenging nocturne, and the second of Sebald's four books to appear in English. The excellent news is that his novel Vertigo is already slated for translation. --Kerry Fried

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:24:20 -0400)

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.

Legacy Library: W. G. Sebald

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