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It isn’t your home

Toril Moi: Sarraute gets her due, 10 September 2020

Nathalie Sarraute: A Life Between 
by Ann Jefferson.
Princeton, 425 pp., £34, August 2020, 978 0 691 19787 6
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... Woolf, but knew nothing about the writers who were to bewitch me in the future: writers like W.G. Sebald, Karl Ove Knausgaard, Elena Ferrante and Rachel Cusk, and many others. These writers respond to a new craving for reality in literature, a new demand for emotional identification and for an immersion in the world proposed by a novel. Had I forgotten – or ...

Before I Began

Christopher Tayler: Coetzee Makes a Leap, 4 June 2020

The Death of Jesus 
by J.M. Coetzee.
Harvill Secker, 208 pp., £18.99, January, 978 1 78730 211 2
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... Quixote, and the cryptic allusions to the gospels, there are faint echoes of Robert Walser, W.G. Sebald and others, and nods to Kleist’s essay ‘On the Marionette Theatre’, to Wittgenstein and Heidegger, and to the Spanish poet Rafael Alberti. ‘There is no such thing as a llave universal,’ Simón is told when he gets the Spanish for ‘master ...

On Philip Terry

Colin Burrow, 13 July 2017

... third section, ‘Waterlog’, retraces the journey around the Suffolk coast narrated in W.G. Sebald’s The Rings of Saturn. Here Terry turns the quennet into a thin ribbon of 12 noun-plus-adjective phrases, with an off-centre burst of seven short lines which may contain verbs, followed by a string of four more noun-plus-adjective phrases. The central ...

Everybody’s Joan

Marina Warner, 6 December 2012

... the past in terms that bring its meaning to life; on the other, the writings of someone like W.G. Sebald or the films of a director like Rivette have uncovered the perpetual, productive interplay between fact and fantasy, memory and forgetting, reliable and unreliable witness. Both disciplines – historiography and the arts – have developed a paramount ...

Ways to Be Pretentious

Ian Penman, 5 May 2016

M Train 
by Patti Smith.
Bloomsbury, 253 pp., £18.99, October 2015, 978 1 4088 6768 6
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Collected Lyrics 1970-2015 
by Patti Smith.
Bloomsbury, 303 pp., £20, October 2015, 978 1 4088 6300 8
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... here just a bit? And is it just coincidence that nestling in her book bag are authors such as W.G. Sebald, César Aira, Haruki Murakami, Roberto Bolaño, Enrique Vila-Matas and others, writers who purposively smudge the line between memoir and fiction? M Train, with its dot-dash series of woozy photographs, even looks like a ...

The crematorium is a zoo

Joshua Cohen: H.G. Adler, 3 March 2016

The Wall 
by H.G. Adler, translated by Peter Filkins.
Modern Library, 672 pp., £12.99, September 2015, 978 0 8129 8315 9
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... until now. The revival of interest in him began, in the English-speaking world, in 2001, when W.G. Sebald’s Austerlitz was published. Austerlitz’s protagonist is obsessed with Theresienstadt and regrets that ‘now it is too late for me to seek out Adler, who had lived in London until his death in the summer of 1988.’ In 2002, after ...


Jacqueline Rose, 19 June 2014

The Conflict: How Modern Motherhood Undermines the Status of Women 
by Elisabeth Badinter, translated by Adriana Hunter.
Picador, 224 pp., £10.99, June 2013, 978 1 250 03209 6
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Are You My Mother? 
by Alison Bechdel.
Jonathan Cape, 304 pp., £16.99, May 2012, 978 0 224 09352 1
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A Child of One’s Own: Parental Stories 
by Rachel Bowlby.
Oxford, 256 pp., £20, June 2013, 978 0 19 960794 5
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Mothering and Motherhood in Ancient Greece and Rome 
by Lauren Hackworth Petersen and Patricia Salzman-Mitchell.
Texas, 274 pp., £16.99, April 2013, 978 0 292 75434 8
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Sinners? Scroungers? Saints? Unmarried Motherhood in 20th-Century England 
by Pat Thane and Tanya Evans.
Oxford, 240 pp., £24.99, August 2013, 978 0 19 968198 3
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I Don’t Know Why She Bothers: Guilt-Free Motherhood for Thoroughly Modern Womanhood 
by Daisy Waugh.
Weidenfeld, 240 pp., £12.99, July 2013, 978 0 297 86876 7
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... of the silence that followed the Allied bombing of German cities at the end of the war, W.G. Sebald writes of the ‘well-kept secret of the corpses built into the foundations of our state’. Above all Wolf has turned Medea into the story of what happens when a woman is held responsible for the ills of the world. Medea ‘has no need of our doubt, of ...


Iain Sinclair: In Guy Vaes’s Footsteps, 21 May 2020

... were about getting out of the place, slipstreaming the wake of Van Gogh, Rimbaud and W.G. Sebald.Close to my temporary perch in the respectably decadent afternoon hotel which seemed to be favoured by poets and covert couples, some of whom would slide through the door behind the bar, was the church of Notre-Dame du Finistère, which housed a statue of ...

On Not Going Home

James Wood, 20 February 2014

... half-German psychiatry intern, and which mixes elements of familiar postcoloniality with W.G. Sebald’s flaneurial émigré sensibility.But to Open City could be added Sebald’s work; McGuinness’s Other People’s Countries; the half-Nigerian, half-Ghanaian novelist Taiye Selasi; Joseph O’Neill’s ...

A Family of Acrobats

Adam Mars-Jones: Teju Cole, 3 July 2014

Every Day Is for the Thief 
by Teju Cole.
Faber, 162 pp., £12.99, April 2014, 978 0 571 30792 0
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... footsteps. But it’s hard to imagine Open City without a precedent that isn’t mentioned, W.G. Sebald’s The Rings of Saturn. It’s not just the theme of walking, with New York in place of East Anglia, but the way that in the absence of conventional novelistic elements such as plot, character and situation, secondary and even tertiary elements stand in ...

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