When W. G. (Max) Sebald died tragically in a road accident in December in 2001, a unique voice was silenced. Here, however, is a collection of the pieces he left behind, none of them previously published in book form. At the heart of this volume are four lyrical and meditative prose fragments from a great, still incomplete work that he was planning, centring on the island of Corsica. The title piece, discovered only after his death, takes a Corsican graveyard as Sebald's starting-point for his musings on cemeteries, natural history, ghosts, anthropology, and the tenuous barrier between life and death. The literary essays making up the rest of the book touch upon great writers with whom Sebald felt a particular affinity, such as Nabokov, Kafka, Gunter Grass and Bruce Chatwin. As always, Sebald is haunted by the past history of his native Germany. To read the book is, as one American critic has put it, to step into the quirky treasure-house of his mind' and see his perceptive gaze bent on the subjects and writers that fascinated him. It is a fitting memorial to an author who himself studied the shifting nature of memory and time with such sensitivity.
Literature-Fiction, Essays-Correspondence, Essays,