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APS TOGETHER

The Emigrants by W. G. Sebald Day 4

June 13, 2021 | Ambros Adelwarth (through "and life up in the dizzy heights came to an end")

Emigrants “tend to seek out their own kind.” (As we read in the previous section, Paul “belonged to the exiles.”) Emigrants are citizens of their own country, a nowhere that is not utopian.


Sebald can be surprisingly hilarious—see the passage about Theres’s constant weeping. “There were times when one really did not know whether she was in tears because she was at home at long last or because she was already dreading having to leave.”


Sebald’s eschewing of quotation marks creates interesting ambiguities. In The Rings of Saturn, it is difficult to know when he is quoting from a text vs. paraphrasing. Here, remarks in the first person often seem to be shared sentiments—it’s easy to imagine that Adelwarth’s “extremely dignified German” astounds both Fini and the narrator.


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