Review: W.G. Sebald’s “The Rings of Saturn”
MOD can’t speak highly enough of this author, and, based on her recommendation, this was the second of his writings that I have snaffled up in some bibliophilic byway (don’t ask me what the other one was, it’s returned to the mists whence it came). Ostensibly a travelogue of Sebald’s walking tour through Anglia (south-eastern England), but more accurately it is a sequence historical and philosophical rhapsodies on places, people and objects somehow related to destinations on Sebald’s journey. The topics are so wide-ranging – e.g., train carriages made for Chinese emperors, silk policies in Europe in the 17th century, Joseph Conrad’s maritime history leading to his authorship of Heart of Darkness – their exploration so well researched and erudite, the writing so fluid and lyrical (*excellent* translation), that I often lost my sense of where and when and what on earth I was reading, and had to do some assiduous page-flicking. The text is beautiful, strange, informed and poetic, accompanied by (sometimes loosely) related photos and images, a mindstream of historical anecdotes thematically linked in that they explore decay, decadence, (self)destruction. The passing away that is life. Recommended for the contemplative.
Where it came from: Market bookstall
Time and manner of reading: Various couchy, beddy, waity reads, normally only a chapter at a time
Where it went: HG
Reminds me of/that: Wanderlust: A History of Walking by Rebecca Solnit; Herzog’s long walks (Berlin to Paris, etc.)
Who I’d recommend it to: MOD
Also reading: Rabbit #4; How to Read a Poem by Edward Hirsch; The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay by Michael Chabon; Being Alive edited by Neil Astley; The Light between Oceans by M.L. Stedman