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Shadows of Reality

A Catalogue of W.G. Sebald's Photographic Materials
Eds. Clive Scott & Nick Warr
ISBN: 9781911343660


This is the first-ever volume of the photographs of W.G. Sebald, exquisitely designed to shed new light on his creative process, as it chronicles the places, people, and events that shaped his writing life.


W.G. Sebald (1944–2001) is one of the most highly esteemed authors of the late twentieth century. His evocative and unclassifiable prose works – Vertigo (1990), The Emigrants (1992), The Rings of Saturn (1995) and Austerlitz (2001) – combine text and image in ways that continue to challenge and beguile readers, writers and critics alike. His images were all made in collaboration with the photographer Michael Brandon-Jones, who assisted the writer in transforming various photographs, found images and objects into unsettling visual encounters that interweave with his prose to haunt the reader.


This groundbreaking volume presents, for the first time, a comprehensive and fully illustrated catalogue of Sebald’s photographic materials: an extraordinary combination of film negatives, prints and slides from the University of East Anglia’s photographic collections, the Deutsches Literaturarchiv Marbach and the Sebald Estate. It reveals, in a compelling and visually innovative way, the story behind each of the images and their often surprising origins. Accompanying the photographic materials are a sequence of new essays, an interview with Brandon-Jones and other photographic pieces, which all offer different and revealing insights into Sebald’s life-long preoccupation with photographs – with their versatility, expressivity and their multiple narrative and poetic powers.


Edited by literary scholar Clive Scott and photography curator Nick Warr, this wonderfully comprehensive book covers every element of Sebald's published work and includes a substantial amount of material that has not been made public before.


Introduced by Nick Warr, who offers an intriguing overview of the author's critical relationship to photography, Shadows of Reality also incorporates an illuminating interview with Michael Brandon-Jones, who collaborated with Sebald on all of his publications. It further contains a collection of extracts, principally on photography, from interviews with Sebald himself, held in the library of recordings in the possession of his close friend, Gordon Turner, who also provides a memoir. Accompanying these are inspired essays by Clive Scott and Angela Breidbach on Sebald's writing-with-photographs and the complex and mercurial interactions of those photographs with narrative design and fascinating insights from Francisco Cantú and Glen Jamieson who both re-photograph Sebald’s work, the latter in a diagnosis of the kind of illumination the camera flash imparts to Sebald's subjects.


A deeply important collection for anyone interested in Sebald's creative processes or the ways in which photography might serve fiction, Shadows of Reality is an inexhaustible treasure-trove of new discoveries and revelations about the cherished international author.




Clive Scott is Emeritus Professor of Drama and Creative Writing at the University of East Anglia. Among his many roles and honors, he was President of the Modern Humanities Research Association, Acting Director of the British Centre for Literary Translation, and Head of the School of Literature and Creative Writing, and received the R.H. Gapper Book Prize, in 2004, for Channel Crossings: French and English poetry in Dialogue 1550-2000.


Nick Warr is Lecturer in Art History and Curation in the School of Art, Media, and American Studies at the University of East Anglia. He is also Curator of Photographic Collections, Course Director of Art History and World Art Studies, and Academic Director of the East Anglian Film Archive.

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W.G. SEBALD: Shadows of Reality

SKU: 978-1-911343-66-0
£49.95 Regular Price
£45.00Sale Price
  • 978-1-911343-66-0

  • 297mm x 245mm x 35mm; pp. 468

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