The Rings of Saturn: An English Pilgrimage - W. G. Sebald
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 ...... more
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 Mi chael 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 33 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 colourful 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 humour. At one point, paralysed 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. - -Kerry Fried
Advantages: Good location and value Disadvantages: Some things to be improved!
...flight and had to wait about an hour for our room but by the time we had grabbed a quick bite of lunch the room was ready. Never having stayed in a Wyndham property I was pleasantly surprised by our room which was large with two double beds, a separate seating area, international TV, coffee machine, work desk and ergonomically designed chair. There was plenty of wardrobe space and a new iron...
Advantages: A lovely looking location Disadvantages: Poorly run and inconsistant
...My family consisting of myself, my wife (Sue), step-daughter, daughter, step-son and his partner stayed at Port Orleans (French Quarter) for 2 weeks and returned only a week ago.
This was part of a package that we put together through Virgin which consisted of 2 weeks access to Disney parks, Kennedy Space Station and Sea World / Universal Studios and one we could never hope to do again.
Advantages: Friendly people, relaxed atmosphere. Be prepared to party, and party hard! Disadvantages: Keep away from the tacky and overpriced tourist area.
...My visit to New Orleans was pretty atypical, myself and a friend hired an aircraft and flew ourselves there from Georgia. For any pilots reading this, the trip was a good one, flying IFR and using Houston Centre for Flight Following and a Radar Service. being typically American aviation, the service was excellent and efficient, and despite being two semi-lost Brits in a single engined aircraft we...
02.12.2000 18:08 ·Read review
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