Campo Santo

by W. G. Sebald

Hardcover, 2005




New York : Random House, c2005.


"In this final collection of sixteen essays by W.G. Sebald, one of the most elegant and incisive authors of our time, all of his trademark themes are contained - the power of memory and personal history, the connections between images in the arts and life, the presence of ghosts in places and artifacts." "Four pieces pay tribute to the Mediterranean island of Corsica, weaving elegiacally between past and present. In "A Little Excursion to Ajaccio," Sebald visits the birthplace of Napoleon and muses on the hints in his childhood home of a great man's future. Inspired by an Italian ceremony, "Campo Santo" is a reverie on death, ranging from the ambiguity of inscriptions to the size of gravestones to the blood-soaked legend of Saint Julien. Sebald also examines how the works of Gunter Grass and Heinrich Boll reveal "the grave and lasting deformities in the emotional lives" of postwar Germans, how Kafka echoes Sebald's own interest in spirit presences among mortal beings, and how literature can be an attempt at restitution for the injustices of the real world."--BOOK JACKET.… (more)

User reviews

LibraryThing member MSarki
I liked what I read and skipped over what did not interest me. His speech at the end was cool as were his essays regarding Kafka.
LibraryThing member MSarki
I have totally changed my opinion of this book after reading it the second (this time in full) and after reading much other Sebald work and related material. By all means one of my very favorite writers now. This is an important collection of Sebald's and one I believe will get more legs as his respect is sure to grow.
LibraryThing member jonfaith
Rounding upwards, we should all push that direction towards the mute heavens. Yet our hearts remain shipwrecked.

There’s a lazy longing. This work is part meditation on Corsica but larded with essays on the German Miracle and the stewardship of postwar literature. There are pieces on Kafka and Nabokov. Sebald plunges deep into memory, pocketing chance discoveries for our benefit. I realized just now I’ve been reading Sebald for twenty years. I don’t believe I’ve traveled with him. Reading earlier today about the wildfires around Berlin and the consequent explosion of buried munitions, I thought about Thomas Browne and WG Sebald.… (more)
LibraryThing member thorold
...for my father, who came home only at weekends, had a particular fondness for this kind of traditional Bavarian folk music, which to me has taken on in retrospect the character of something terrible which I know will pursue me to my grave.

A posthumous collection of essays and reviews by the least German of post-war German writers, which when combined form a slightly uncomfortable mix in which you're never quite sure whether it's the writer of literature or the professional academic who is addressing you, but singly are all little gems that we need to keep and treasure.

There are four chapters intended for a projected but sadly unfinished book about Corsica, there are a couple of essays about post-war German writing that formed the germ for his book On the natural history of destruction, there are book reviews, notes on Kafka, Nabokov, and Bruce Chatwin, there's an essay on the mackerel (riffing off a couple of paintings by his former classmate Jan Peter Tripp) and there are a few pieces of more or less autobiographical character. Lovely, clear thinking expressed in lovely, clear writing: something to dip into with pleasure even if you're only vaguely interested in the subjects he's writing about.
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LibraryThing member stillatim
Many good fiction writers, including some of my all time favorites, come across as fools when they can't hide their opinions and ideas behind the irony of literature. That is also the case of WGS. That said, some of the pieces here will be helpful for those seeking to understand his work, or who are just addicted to it.


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