This was the first time I’ve attempted W.G. Sebald and I have to admit I was disappointed.
At first I was amazed at this book. Within the first fifty pages or so you get a whole diatribe about the architectural teats of Antwerp’s train station then then further on in the novel there are further discussions about moths, Wittgenstein and other famous buildings around the world. More importantly though is the theme of memory which runs throughout the book.
The unnamed narrator bumps into a person called Jacques Austerlitz. Whenever they meet they indulge in intellectual discussions. As Austerlitz’s confidence in the narrator grows he starts to expose bits and pieces of his childhood. His past under Welsh parents, his discovery of his real parents – victims of Nazism, his mental breakdown and other bits and pieces of his past start to crop up. By the end of the novel we get a scattered but full biography of Austerlitz. Add that to the pictures strewn all over the novel, which give us more clues and you’ve got a first class book in your hands.
Probably it is so. After all there are tons of people who loved this novel but one thing made my reading of this book weary and that it is one long 415 page paragraph. Although i’ve been exposed to many literary techniques, this one exhausted me completely and, at times irritated me highly, which is a pity cause this is one hell of a plot.
What else can I say? I think there are other Sebald novels in this 1001 reading challenge so I hope I fare better next time.