A Catalogue of W.G. Sebald’s Photographic Materials
Eds. Clive Scott & Nick Warr
Due Winter, 2020; ISBN: 9781911343660; RRP £75
For the first time ever, this volume presents a fully-illustrated catalogue of W. G. Sebald’s photographs: an extraordinary combination of film negatives, prints and slides from the University of East Anglia's photographic collection, the Deutsches Literaturarchiv Marbach, and the Sebald Estate.
This thrillingly comprehensive book covers every element of Sebald’s published work and includes a substantial amount of material that has not been made public before. It is a ground-breaking publication and complements the exhibition, Lines of Sight: W.G. Sebald’s East Anglia at Norwich Castle Museum & Art Gallery (10 May, 2019 – 5 January, 2020).
Introduced by Nick Warr, Curator of Photographic Collections, University of East Anglia, who has compiled this compendium of Sebald’s images and who offers an intriguing overview of the author’s critical relationship to photography, this book also incorporates an illuminating interview with Michael Brandon-Jones, the photographer who collaborated with Sebald on all of his publications. It further contains a collection of extracts, principally on the subject of 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.
Every care has been given to the quality of reproduction, layout, annotation and overall design to ensure maximum clarity for researchers and to make vivid Sebald’s working methods to the delight of enthusiasts across the globe. While many of the photographs discussed relate directly to a remarkable literary achievement, the book presents a lively sense too of those photographs that never made it to the printed page. How they acted, taken from a very wide, very mixed variety of sources, as constant aide-mémoires and triggers in Sebald’s creative consciousness, constituting a kind of biography of his spiritual life.
This extraordinary visual record not only documents one of the most famous journeys in Modern European literature but also further maps out Sebald’s creative process as it meanders its way around the places, people and events that shaped his writing. It is difficult to over-emphasize the importance of this collection for anyone interested in Sebald’s creative processes or the ways in which photography might serve fiction. It promises an inexhaustible treasure-trove of new discoveries and is a book unique in what it can newly reveal about this cherished, international author.
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