The problem has got so bad that even Frank Skinner has noted it in his autobiography, saying something to the effect that when one reads a sentence such as: This is not a problem with Sebald, and particularly with this novel, which may say "fiction" on the back by the barcode, but which has such an unimpugnable tang of veracity that when I called up Penguin to check on the publication date, and was asked whether I wanted to speak to someone in the fiction or non-fiction department, I was stumped, and only decided on "fiction, I suppose" after being prompted by the increasingly suspicious receptionist. This is an achievement, not, emphatically not, a failure of tone or technique. For a start, it is written in that very central-European, Thomas Bernhard-ish headlong rush, as if the whole work were itself one single train of thought - the book contains no paragraph breaks, but as it is set in fairly big type, with generous margins, this is something you hardly notice.
Plot[ edit ] Jacques Austerlitz, the main character in the book, is an architectural historian who encounters and befriends the solitary narrator in Antwerp during the s.
Gradually we come to understand his life history. He arrived in Britain during the summer of as an infant refugee on a kindertransport from a Czechoslovakia threatened by Hitler's Nazis. He was adopted by an elderly Welsh Nonconformist preacher and his sickly wife, and spent his childhood near Bala, Gwynedd before attending a minor public school.
His foster parents died, and Austerlitz learned something of his background. After school he attended Oriel College, Oxford and became an academic who is drawn to, and began his research in, the study of European architecture.
After a nervous breakdown, Austerlitz visited Praguewhere he met a close friend of his lost parents, Vera, who often took care of "Jacquot" when his parents were away.
As he speaks with her, memories return, including French and Czech expressions she taught him. The elderly lady tells him the fate of his mother, an actress and opera singer who was deported to Theresienstadt concentration camp.
From Prague, Austerlitz travels to Theriesenstadtand after returning to England via train, with an emotionally difficult journey through Germany, manages to obtain a minute video compilation of highlights from Theresienstadt.
Vera, however, dismisses the woman from the documentary. Instead, she confirms the identity of Austerlitz's mother in a photograph of an anonymous actress which Austerlitz found in the Prague theatrical archives.
The novel shifts to contemporary Paris as Austerlitz seeks out any remaining evidence about the fate of his father. He meets up with the narrator and tells him of his first sojourn in Paris, inwhen he suffered his first nervous breakdown and was hospitalized; Marie de Verneuil, a young Frenchwoman with whom he became acquainted in the library, helps nurse him back to health.
During the novel the reader is taken on a guided tour of a lost European civilization: Adopted by a childless Welsh minister and his wife, they were given a new identity to erase all traces of their previous existence.
The discovery of her real identity propels Susi on a painful and courageous quest in search of her past and the surviving members of her natural family.
In the course of her search, she confronts dark secrets from her own past and urgently needs to reappraise her life. InSusi published a memoir, Rosa's Child: The Orthodox rabbi Heshel Melamed's sudden death in had provided an opportunity for his widow and nine children to leave Lithuania for South Africa, which, in light of events two decades later, had been a gift of life.
One such sentence runs to seven and a half pages and combines the history and description of Theresienstadt. It is prompted by Austerlitz's having read the major study of the ghetto, Theresienstadt Das Antlitz einer Zwangsgemeinschaft by H. Adlerand recounting it to the narrator as they are walking around London, from St Clement's Hospital where Austerlitz had been admitted in after his arrival at Liverpool Street on his return from Prague.
Mysterious and evocative photographs are also scattered throughout the book, enhancing the melancholy message of the text. Austerlitz tells his story to the narrator between and They first meet in Antwerp, and then in a few other places in Belgium they take a ferry together back to England from Terneuzenin the Netherlands.
Between andthey meet regularly in BloomsburyLondon, where Austerlitz works as an art historian and teacher; the narrator studies in England and travels to London by train. They lose touch after the narrator returns to Germany: They meet again in Decemberin the Great Eastern Hotel, London ; the narrator has returned to England and has traveled to London to visit an eye doctor, running into Austerlitz by chance.
They talk until late, then meet the next day in Greenwich. Themes[ edit ] A broad and pervasive theme of the novel is the metaphor of water as time, a metaphor which helps explain two arguably three appearances of Noah's Ark in the novel: Translated by Anthea Bell.In what ways can Sebald's work be said to create a new genre?
Do we know whether to take Austerlitz as fact or fiction?; Why do you suppose Sebald incorporates photographs into his work? Buy a cheap copy of Austerlitz book by W.G.
Sebald. 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 Free shipping over $Format: Paperback.
“Only in the books written in earlier times did she sometimes think she found some faint idea of what it might be like to be alive.” ― W.G.
Sebald, Austerlitz. W. G. Sebald’s Austerlitz (Vintage Canada) is a serious European novel. This translation (by Anthea Bell) still bears more than just a trace of the heaviness and denseness of the German language, which may discourage some readers.
Austerlitz by WG Sebald trs Anthea Bell Penguin £ For some reason, plausibility in fiction is becoming harder to sustain, or even achieve.
The Top 50 greatest fiction books of all time determined by lists and articles from various critics, authors and experts.