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A Place in the Country

W.G. Sebald & Jo Catling

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Description

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 beautiful hardcover edition, with a full-cloth case, includes more than 40 pieces of art and 6 full-color gatefolds, all originally selected and laid out by W. G. Sebald.

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 nineteenth-century German 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
 
“Measured, solemn, sardonic . . . hypnotic . . . [W. G. Sebald’s] books, which he made out of classics, remain classics for now.”—Joshua Cohen, The New York Times Book Review

“In Sebald’s writing, everything is connected, everything webbed together by the unseen threads of history, or chance, or fate, or death. The scholarly craft of gathering scattered sources and weaving them into a coherent whole is transformed here into something beautiful and unsettling, elevated into an art of the uncanny—an art that was, in the end, Sebald’s strange and inscrutable gift.”Slate
 
“Magnificent . . . The multiple layers surrounding each essay are seamless to the point of imperceptibility.”—New York Daily News
 
“Sebald’s most tender and jovial book.”—The Nation

“Reading [A Place in the Country is] like going for a walk with a beautifully talented, deeply passionate novelist from Mars.”New York

From the Hardcover edition.

Publishers Weekly Review

Oct 07, 2013 – In this posthumous collection of six essays by Sebald (1944–2001), the last of his major works to be translated into English, the author of Austerlitz, among other works of fiction, nonfiction, and poetry, uses critical appreciations of five writers and one painter to explore the nature of the creative persona. Like his fiction, Sebald’s essays are hybrid constructions, blending literary biography and personal essay, with photos included throughout. Although their careers span some 200 years, his subjects—Johann Peter Hebel, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Eduard Mörike, Gottfried Keller, Robert Walser, and the contemporary painter Jan Peter Tripp—bear certain resemblances, as all are products of the same Alpine landscape. Sebald wants to understand “that peculiar behavioral disturbance” that makes writers write. In an effort to anatomize “the awful tenacity,” he draws upon biography, history, close reading, analogous works in other art forms, and his memories. He turns repeatedly to the “relentless strain of composition” and the circumstances under which authors, especially late in life, grapple with their artistic compulsion. Walser’s entry into a mental hospital in the 1930s echoes Rousseau’s 1765 retreat to Switzerland’s Île Saint-Pierre after he was banished from France. Given Sebald’s small oeuvre, Catling’s translation will be welcomed by his fans. Catling taught with Sebald in the last decade of his life, and her flowing translation pays crucial attention to the prosody and contours of Sebald’s sentences. Illus.
A Place in the Country
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  • $13.99
  • Available on iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, and Mac.
  • Category: Fiction & Literature
  • Published: Feb 18, 2014
  • Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
  • Seller: Random House, LLC
  • Print Length: 240 Pages
  • Language: English
  • Requirements: To view this book, you must have an iOS device with iBooks 1.3.1 or later and iOS 4.3.3 or later, or a Mac with iBooks 1.0 or later and OS X 10.9 or later.

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