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APS TOGETHER

The Emigrants by W. G. Sebald Day 9

June 18, 2021 | Max Ferber ("so much in the shade and dark in recent years"), p. 160-191

On p. 176 of the New Directions paperback, at least, there is no break between Max Ferber’s monologue (“what a true work of art looks like”) and the return to the narrator’s voice (“I had been in Manchester for the best part of three years”).

A jarring shift in time and perspective. I’m unsure if this is a typographical error or an intentional confusion. Sebald was also known as Max.



The Ferber article unlocks “a sort of gaol or oubliette.” Once again I am reminded of Maxwell, how the seed of So Long, See You Tomorrow is a moment of perceived moral failure, however small, a source of lifelong guilt.

“This loss of language, this oblivion”—Ferber’s break with his first language creates a break in continuity with the past. He can hardly picture his parents, a selective aphantasia. His exile is yet more complete.



The scene at the Oberwiesenfeld airport, and the ensuing flight, are so tragic. The boy doesn’t know the future, but the man does. Once we know the future, the past is changed.


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