Patrick ffrench Sebald on Chatwin and Flaubert The melancholic turn of W.G. Sebaldâs prose has been a recurrent feature of critical commentary on his work: an early critical volume names Sebald the âAnatomist of Melancholyâ (GÃ¶rner), as if to suggest that Sebald is pursuing the legacy of Robert Burton; through its title alone The Rings of Saturn consecrates the melancholic temperament as the dominant mood of the writing; Dora Osborne remarks of The Emigrants that the nomadic tendencies of Sebaldâs protagonists are âresisted by the overwhelmingly melancholic force of traumatic history, which ultimately determines the course of Sebaldâs narrativesâ (Osborne 106); Greg Bond notes Sebaldâs confessed affinity with the seventeenth-Â entury English writer Thomas Browne, who, in The Rings of Saturn is accredited by Sebald with the view that âOn every new thing there lies already the shadow of annihilationâ (23â4, cited in Bond 39); Eric Santner, in the extraordinarily rich study On Creaturely Life: Rilke, Benjamin, Sebald, sees in melancholy the driving force of Sebaldâs work, and explores the deep ramifications of this insight, extending from the affective tonality of melancholy in the writing itself, into the politics and sexuality of the âcreature,â whose subjectivity, and whose
The Comparatist – University of North Carolina Press
Published: Nov 1, 2017
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