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After Nature Paperback – 26 Jun 2003

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Product details

  • Paperback: 128 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin; New Ed edition (26 Jun 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0141003367
  • ISBN-13: 978-0141003368
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 0.9 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 204,082 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

W. G. Sebald was born in Wertach im Allgäu, in the Bavarian Alps, in 1944. He studied German language and literature in Freiburg, Switzerland and Manchester. In 1966 he took up a position as an assistant lecturer at the University of Manchester, settling permanently in England in 1970. He was professor of Modern German Literature at the University of East Anglia, and is the author of The Emigrants which won the Berlin Literature Prize, the Literatur Nord Prize and the Johannes Bobrowski Medal, The Rings of Saturn and Austerlitz. W. G. Sebald died in 2001.

Product Description


'A deeply intelligent book, but also a marvellously warm and intelligent one' Andrew Motion

About the Author

W.G. Sebald was born in Germany in 1944 and died in December 2001. Until his death he was Professor of European Literature at the University of East Anglia. He is the author of four works of fiction: THE EMIGRANTS, THE RINGS OF SATURN, VERTIGO andAUSTERLITZ. Hamish Hamilton is publishing ON THE NATURAL HISTORY OF DESTRUCTION in February 2003.

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First Sentence
Whoever closes the wings of the altar in the Lindenhardt parish church, and locks up the carved figures in their casing, on the left-hand panel will be met by St George. Read the first page
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Back Cover
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Dix on 21 Aug 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I read this for a book group, otherwise I probably wouldn't have picked it up; really glad I did though! It is subtly written and fascinating. I had to look up lots of the references, as I didn't know the artist or botanist who are 'characters' in this long poem. The translation seems excellent. What most surprised me, I think, was that it was funny! What a clever, clever man Sebald was!
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A pity we lost such a great writer so soon... his way of looking at the world is unique and intense
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2 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Miriana Ponte on 13 Feb 2013
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Three prose poems concerning themes which Sebald has inquired into before and before his untimely death in a car crash. These are not easy to read and a second reading yields up greater insights. Great for Sebald fans
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0 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Mr. B. Mead on 1 Sep 2013
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A book that, at times, I was going to put down but because I had read others by him, I continued to read it. It was well written, but not one of the best for me.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 7 reviews
31 of 32 people found the following review helpful
A Remarkable Epitaph 8 Sep 2002
By Grady Harp - Published on
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The literary world stil mourns the too early passing of W.G. Sebald, who died just as his fertile mind was being shared with us through his four novels. Few people who experienced the power of his talent in reading 'The Emmigrants', 'Vertigo', 'The Rings of Saturn", and his final 'Austerlitz' have been able to reconcile the loss of a man so gifted having his career so shortened. Sebald is a writer's writer but his book, while dense in content and style, spoke so clearly to our generation beseiged by media madness, global wars, terrorism, starvation, and mutilation of the environment that turning to his unique form of writing provided a great solace. He asked us to explore the mysteries of birth, of death, of aging, of remembering and honoring our personal and cultural past. Now, after his death, we are gifted by this amazingly beautiful volume of three poems he wrote at the inception of his writing career. Knowing that these elegant and brilliant poems have been available all these years - just not translated - brings the circle of life round in a way I feel certain Sebald would have enjoyed.
The poems are in free verse and read easily; the content is typical of Sebald, in that he relates detailed histories of painter Matthias Gruenwald, botanist Georg Stellar, and himself - each man being described as one who explores life from his passion to understand his past and future and find meaning and peace at its core. Rarely has language appeared so fluid, elegant, informative and lovely as in Sebald's informed hands. This is a book to savour and to share........a magnificent volume.
17 of 19 people found the following review helpful
Profound 30 Sep 2003
By Emma Kate - Published on
Format: Hardcover
I really don't feel I can do this beautiful book justice but I loved it so much I feel compelled to try.
"After Nature" is written even less conventionally than are Sebald's other books. "After Nature" is a rather longish prose poem that details the unique relationship between three very different men and nature, herself. The three men are Matthias Grunewald, the German Renaissance painter, Georg Steller, the scientist and Arctic explorer and Sebald, himself.
Each one of the men named above begins life with a vision of Nature that is placid and benevolent but come to realize that Nature can often be cruel and can even destroy her own creations. Each man was changed by his experience with Nature; whether for better or worse is something each reader will have to judge for himself.
Sebald was an enormously creative and original writer and he defined himself as a "writer" rather than a novelist. While "After Nature" certainly isn't conventionally plotted there are remnants of stories contained within the poetry. Sebald, however, makes the reader work a little in order to obtain a full understanding of "After Nature." The book may look "easy" but believe me, it's not.
"After Nature" is a beautiful book and, like the ones that followed, its beauty is melacholic. If you need a conventionally plotted work or a page turning storyline, however, "After Nature" wouldn't be the right choice for you. This is a very introspective work and the more you read, the more inward looking the book becomes.
I loved "After Nature." I think I loved it even more than Sebald's other books. "After Nature" made me think more and reflect more and it stayed with me far longer.
If a very reflective, introspective and melancholic prose poem is something you think you'd enjoy, I don't think you could find anything lovlier than "After Nature."
17 of 19 people found the following review helpful
DNA for Sebald's Prose Works 8 Jan 2003
By "50cent-haircut" - Published on
Format: Hardcover
This triptych prose poem actually was published before Sebald's prose books. The word 'poem' is a loose word here, as words like 'fiction' and 'novel' were in "Austerlitz", "Vertigo", "Rings of Saturn" and "The Emigrants". This poem is a progenitor of the later work, and has much of the same agenda as the books.
"After Nature" follows three characters: Grunewald, a Renaissance painter, Steller, an 18th century botanist-explorer, and finally the author himself. The book is preoccupied and troubled by the slow devastation of nature and innocence by history and man, and the book's end, as Sebald himself imagines looking onto the virgin continent of Africa in the times of Alexander the Great, is eloquent and beautifully melancholy as only a Sebald work can be.
This is as luminous and hypnotic as writing can be, and literature will sorely miss the genius of W.G. Sebald, who passed away far too early, at the height of his literary powers, in December of 2001.
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
Poetry by the last great novelist of the 20th century 23 Aug 2006
By Brian A. Oard - Published on
Format: Paperback
This triptych of three long poems by W.G. Sebald is a jewel-like ornament to his four major prose works, "Vertigo," "The Emigrants," "The Rings of Saturn" and "Austerlitz." I found the first and third poems, dealing with the shadowy German Renaissance painter Matthias Grunewald and with Sebald himself, superior to the second section, on Arctic exploration, but I fully expect other readers to judge for themselves and judge differently. The burning power of what is best in all of Sebald's works is encapsulated in a few lines from the third poem here, describing Sebald's reaction after viewing a painting of the destruction of Sodom in the Kunsthistorisches Museum:

When for the first time I saw

this picture the year before last,

I had the strange feeling

of having seen all of it

before, and a little later,

crossing to Floridsdorf

on the Bridge of Peace,

I nearly went out of my mind.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
Thought provoking 27 Jun 2004
By M. J. Smith - Published on
Format: Paperback
This is not a book to be skimmed lightly. The middle poem on the botanist Georg Steller is the most transparent. It provides not only a biography of Steller's explorations with Bering, but insight into the nature-man relationship. The first poem on the 16th century painter Matthias Grunewald is less transparent - less biographical information is available. Sebald again explores the nature-man relationship. The reader, however, must glean their understanding of Grunewald's painting through Sebald's description and from this understanding move towards Sebald's interpretation. The third poem is on Sebald himself, exploring the same nature-man relationship. At times it becomes a "cat and mouse" game as Sebald exhibits both reserve and openess.
If you enjoy Sebald's prose, this is a must-read. If you enjoy less traditional literary presentation, consider this a must-read. For the rest, read the various reviews to determine your interest level - it would never be a mistake to choose this volume. But there is so much wonderful literature and so little time to read, that you may wish to invest your time elsewhere.
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