On the Natural History of Destruction

On the Natural History of Destruction

By Winfried Georg Sebald; W. G. Sebald; Anthea Bell (Translator)

Modern Library, Paperback, 9780375756573, 224pp.

Publication Date: February 17, 2004

Description
During World War Two, 131 German cities and towns were targeted by Allied bombs, a good number almost entirely flattened. Six hundred thousand German civilians died a figure twice that of all American war casualties. Seven and a half million Germans were left homeless. Given the astonishing scope of the devastation, W. G. Sebald asks, why does the subject occupy so little space in Germany's cultural memory? On the Natural History of Destruction probes deeply into this ominous silence.


About the Author
W. G. Sebald was born in Wertach im Allgau, Germany, in 1944. He studied German language and literature in Freiburg, Switzerland, and Manchester. He taught at the University of East Anglia in Norwich, England, for thirty years, becoming professor of European literature in 1987, and from 1989 to 1994 was the first director of the British Centre for Literary Translation. His previously translated books--"The Rings of Saturn," "The Emigrants," "Vertigo," and "Austerlitz"--have won a number of international awards, including the National Book Critics Circle Award, the "Los Angeles Times" Book Award, the Berlin Literature Prize, and the Literatur Nord Prize. He died in December 2001.

"From the Hardcover edition."



W. G. Sebald was born in Wertach im Allgau, Germany, in 1944. He studied German language and literature in Freiburg, Switzerland, and Manchester. He taught at the University of East Anglia in Norwich, England, for thirty years, becoming professor of European literature in 1987, and from 1989 to 1994 was the first director of the British Centre for Literary Translation. His previously translated books--"The Rings of Saturn," "The Emigrants," "Vertigo," and "Austerlitz"--have won a number of international awards, including the National Book Critics Circle Award, the "Los Angeles Times" Book Award, the Berlin Literature Prize, and the Literatur Nord Prize. He died in December 2001.

"From the Hardcover edition."



Anthea Bell is the recipient of the Schlegel Tieck Prize for translation from German, the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize, and the Helen and Kurt Wolff Prize in 2002 for the translation of W. G. Sebald s Austerlitz, and the 2003 Austrian State Prize for Literary Translation. She lives in Cambridge, England.


Praise For On the Natural History of Destruction

“Most writers, even good ones, write of what can be written. . . . The very greatest write of what cannot be written. . . . I think of Akhmatova and Primo Levi, for example, and of W. G. Sebald.”
—The New York Times


“[Sebald] is writing about what he regards as a disquieting refusal to face facts—not only about what was done to the nation, but by implication, by the nation. . . . No better future for humankind is possible if we do less than look upon the crimes of our past, and their catastrophic results, with ‘a steadfast gaze.’”
The Boston Sunday Globe


“This may well be the last of Sebald’s writing we’ll ever have, so how amazing—and fitting—it is that it seems, in a fashion as uncanny as his prose and perceptions could often be, to close the circle of the ruminations that preoccupied his writing life.”
The Washington Post


“Sebald approaches his subject with sensitivity, yet avoids neither descriptions of horrible carnage nor criticism of writers too preoccupied with absolving themselves of blame to faithfully portray a destroyed Germany. The result is a balanced explication of devastation and denial, and a beautiful coda for Sebald.”
—Booklist


“The secret of Sebald’s appeal is that he saw himself in what now seems almost an old-fashioned way as a voice of conscience, someone who remembers injustice, who speaks for those who can no longer speak.”
—The New York Review of Books