So often, a posthumous collection of relaundered words from a master ends up awkwardly wrong. Thus, I approached this with more than mild anxiety. While in some ways, Sebald's lucid exploration of death rites in Sicily prefigures his own demise, the work as a whole has that fresh, startling observation which characterised his very best work. The familiar theme of German conscience post World War II is explored with even greater subtlety. The essay on Kafka's cinema typically includes a meditation on the problems of obsolescence facing literary scholars; Nabokov, Chatwin and Peter Handke are included; Gunter Grass's recent fall from grace happened after Sebald's death, so that is the one part which reads awkwardly. Anthea Bell's translation is pitch-perfect once again. Someone who has never read Sebald would very probably feel the desire to read his earlier work after reading this.
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