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4.1 out of 5 stars77
4.1 out of 5 stars
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on 11 May 2014
As I have seen other say, this is like nothing ever read before. It is tricky to read as Sebald is not too keen on punctuation but very worthwhile in persevering. It is wise, witty and you know that Sebald's heart is in the right place. And it describes beautifully the East Anglia I recognise.
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on 25 March 2009
This book is unique. It's like a breath of fresh air blowing through your mind. It's like rich piece of chocolate cake. Take it in small delicious bites because it won't last long.

Rings of Saturn reads like an extended essay structured around a walk taken by Sebald along the Suffolk coast. His thoughts wander over an eclectic range of fascinating subjects. Sebald's style is simple and full of beautiful images. Quite often with books I just want to finish them and read something else. Rings of Saturn was different, I never wanted it to end.

The only writer I have come across with a similar style is de Botton. Though Sebald is far superior. I'm definitely going to be reading the rest of Sebald's books.

The Emigrants is up next for me.
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on 3 January 2014
Sebald's utterly compelling and melancholy book reads like a travel monologue - the world-weary-sounding fictive alter ego of the author wending a lonely path through the haunting landscape of Suffolk at the end of summer. Sebald's journey is interwoven with fascinating digressions into the history of the silk trade, Longfellow, Fitzgerald, Browne, Imperial China and the history of Suffolk along with musings on the passage of time, the nature of history and the sense of place and landscape.

A deeply moving and stirring work shot through with introspection and a mournful tone which all lovers of history and evocative landscapes should read.
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on 15 September 2013
I can quite see why Seebald has been compared to James Joyce. The book documents the author's walk in Suffolk which sounds a fairly ordinary and perhaps banal subject to write about. But this provides the anchor throughout the book to which the writer constantly returns, after allow his thoughts and memories to take him and us the reader, on an odyssey which is both fascinating, informative and engrossing. I found myself stopping to re-read passages that were so well written. A cleverly, meticulously and beautifully written book.
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on 28 January 2011
I first encountered Sebald when I read 'Austerlitz' and I was utterly overwhelmed by the strange beauty of that novel - every sentence seemed to carry a hint of mortality in the manner of poetry. 'The Rings of Saturn' has many of the same qualities - beautifully written (and brilliantly translated) - but with even less of an obvious narrative framework as 'Austerlitz'. The novel (?) works in ways that remind me of Italo Calvino - enigmatic, allusive and trusting the reader to engage with and become central to the act of interpretation / understanding. So many writers - many of them critically lauded - tell you everything you need to know in order to make sense of the text, and end up - paradoxically - rendering it dull and predictable. Sebald trusts you to work as a reader and the effort is fully rewarded. It is a novel (of sorts) you can return to many times and it will continue to give up new and beautiful - if sometimes devastating - meanings. The comparison to Proust, mentioned in another review, is not an overstatement.
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on 14 April 2012
This is a truly wonderful book. I thought it would take me days and days to read it, but I couldn't put it down. The quality of Sebald's writing and Hulse's translation is stunning, and the unfamiliar references are simply not a problem - I found everything I needed on the internet in a matter of seconds. I loved it. I've only just discovered his writing, and will definitely be reading everything else he wrote.
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on 15 May 2014
A very interesting story, which goes off down several literary sidelines throughout the book. The literary journey (and the journey down the east Anglian coast) is a great read, particularly as I have walked along parts of this route myself. The air of a depressing down-at-heel town in the description of Lowestoft is particularly descriptive!
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on 1 January 2015
This book was recommended to me and I read it whilst travelling in Europe. The writer takes a walk in England along the east coast. Because of his immense knowledge he is able to weave a rich narrative of stories and characters, seemingly handpicked with an almost obsessive attention to detail, resulting in a utterly unique book.
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on 4 June 1999
Difficult to categorize; part travelog, part memoir, part fantasy, part history. A sad, but not depressing, read by a sensitive observer writing about a walk around East Anglia. It is about the transitory nature of individuals, things, and places. I would recommend reading it in one or two sittings, and the writing (and superb translation) is a joy throughout.
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on 19 July 2014
A great deal more like an Alain de Botton book than I expected, which is not a criticism. Historical anecdotes galore. Empty East Anglian Landscape in spades. The accreted significance of places in decay and on the point of vanishing.
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