Customer Review

5.0 out of 5 stars Silken weavings, 9 Feb 2014
This review is from: The Rings Of Saturn (Paperback)
Although I disagree with the one and two-star critics here I can understand where they are coming from. Sebald's work is not a conventional story with characters (what we expect from a 'novel'), certainly isn't light reading (he was a formidable academic with a poet's sensibility) and, to be fair, TROS lacks humour, as do all his books. On the plus side, for those so-minded, he uses a walk through the eerie, horizon-haunted landscape of Suffolk to meditate on human suffering (and what barbarism we are capable of), the nature of time, and the tendency of all things (including us) to decay and dissolve in the eternal flux, yet leave pervasive traces of that dissolution. You'll have to look for laughs in other barrels than these but the inspired nature of his thinking and the justness of his conclusions, the beautiful English prose courtesy of Michael Hulse, and the telling use of photographs combine to give us something extraordinary, just as the silkworm (to which the final chapter is dedicated) gives us its extraordinary product. A silk carpet is referenced on p23, the ruthless Chinese dowager empress Tz'u-hsi used to love listerning to them eat mulberry leaves (in Sebald's novelistic imagination at any rate), and a visitor to the poet Swinburne's house in Putney compared him to an "ashy silkworm". Sebald too gives us literary silk, of the finest quality imaginable.
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