WG Sebald: Bibliography of Secondary Literature

In the next few days I’ll draw to a close my present immersion into Sebald’s work, leaving The Natural History of Destruction, Campo Santo, Across the Land and the Water, Unrecounted and For Years Now for another day.It’ll prolong the moment when I can only reread Sebald, and also give me the chance to take a breather from his unique atmosphere of mourning and ghosts.  Sebald’s work induces in me a particular sensation of vulnerability and melancholy; splashing about in the deep end is luxurious in its own peculiar way, but immersion can become overwhelming. (Though I’m considering reading some Woolf next so simply substituting another flavour of haunting and reflecting on the work of memory.)

Previously I’ve compiled bibliographies of worthwhile secondary literature of writers whose work I hold in affection, Beckett and Kafka in particular. In Sebald’s case, Terry Pitt’s Vertigo should be the first stop for English-speaking Sebald obsessives, followed by Christian Wirth’s Sebald site for German speakers.

I’m sure the list below isn’t definitive. It represents those publications that caught my attention, which I plan to get around to reading sometime. If you think I’ve missed any that are worthwhile please let me know in comments.

  1. Saturn’s Moons: WG Sebald – A Handbook. Legenda, 2001. If you only buy a single piece of secondary material, this is the one to get. Jo Catling and Richard Hibbit have compiled an extraordinarily rich resource, including a huge secondary bibliography. The chapter on WG Sebald’s library alone makes this book worthwhile.
  2. Searching for Sebald: Photography After WG Sebald. Institute of Cultural Enquiry, 2007. There are some fancy editions of this book, but I have a softcover version. I have barely dipped into this beautifully produced book. Photographs in Sebald’s books constitute a parallel narrative, so I’m looking forward to studying this closely at some point.
  3. The Emergence of Memory: Conversations with WG Sebald. Seven Stories Press, 2007. I’ve read and enjoyed the Tim Parks essay, and will finish the other essays and interviews before moving on from Sebald.
  4. WG Sebald: History – Memory – Trauma. Walter de Gruyter, 2006. Looks like an interesting collection of essays, including Sebald’s Amateurs by Ruth Franklin.
  5. Reading WG Sebald: Adventure and Disobedience – Deane Blackler. Camden House, 2007. In his thoughts on the book, Terry Pitts said, “I will say that I found myself feeling that Blackler was often articulating how I feel as I struggle to understand why reading Sebald is unlike reading just about anyone else.”
  6. WG Sebald: Image, Archive, Modernity – JJ Long. Columbia University Press, 2007. Sebald’s work in context with the ‘problem of modernity’ looks right up my street.
  7. WG Sebald: A Critical Companion. Edinburgh University Press, 2004. Essays and poems include those by JJ Long and Anne Whitehead and George Szirtes.
  8. The Undiscover’d Country: WG Sebald and the Poetics of Travel. Camden House, 2010. Terry Pitt’s posts on this publication.
  9. After Sebald: Essays and Illuminations. Full Circle Editions, 2014. I picked this book up at its London Review Bookshop launch. Intriguing collection of essays by artists and writers as diverse as Coetzee, Tacita Dean, Robert Macfarlane and Ali Smith.
  10. Sebald’s Bachelors: Queer Resistance and the Unconforming Life – Helen Finch. Legends, 2013. I enjoy Helen Finch’s blog and Twitter account, and am very interested to read a book that Terry Pitts calls, “one of the most important books on Sebald to date”.

11 thoughts on “WG Sebald: Bibliography of Secondary Literature

  1. Thank you for this, Anthony. May I put in a request? In some of your earlier posts you mentioned reading some of the books that Sebald wrote about IN his books or that you believed had inspired them. I’d love to see that list if you feel so inclined.

    • My pleasure, Caille. Request noted – it’ll be a good project when I return to Sebald later in the year (hopefully) to read those titles I haven’t read, but also to reread Austerlitz.

  2. Excellent list! Thank you for collecting this, it already has me taking advantage of the newly revamped online provincial library search system here in Alberta (Canada).

  3. It is a very thorough list! I would only suggest two more titles, an essay by Amir Eshel called “Against the power of time: the poetics of suspension in W.G. Sebalds Austerlitz”, and also Anne Whitehead’s Trauma Fiction.

    • Thank you, Aline, for those suggestions. I’ve found the Amir Eshel essay [PDF], and look forward to reading it later. The Anne Whitehead book is very interesting, especially as it also includes a chapter on Anne Michael’s Fugitive Pieces, a novel for which I have some affection. I’ll add both when I post a ‘conclusive’ list.

      I very much like the look of your blog, which I plan to explore.

  4. I’m glad you liked the suggestions. I find Eshel’s essay to be good as a global introduction to Austerlitz, because it contextualises the novel with other Sebald’s works and writers dealing with the same topic of NS past, and manages to argue convincingly of a distinctive sebaldian melancholic reflection.

    I look forward to reading more posts about Sebald.
    Thank you for visiting my blog, it is in a sort of a hiatus though.

  5. This is indeed a fine list. I have managed to procure most of them as Sebald comes in my research interests. Would you also give some ideas about Sebald’s idea of the ‘ archives’ or rather the ‘ archival material’ he has used. Some ideas are there in Saturn’s Moons. Ed by Jo Catling and others

    • It is a fascinating question, one that I’m not, at this stage, much in a position to comment on. Perhaps I’ll have more to say after more closely reading Jonathan James Long’s W.G. Sebald: Image, Archive, Modernity. Long deals at length with the use of archives in Seabed’s work.

      • James Long’s work is with me and I had gone through. Good one indeed. But I was fundamentally looking at the archival material that spans Sebald’s oeuvre of travelling, collections and other things. Perhaps , something may turn up in course of time. Long is particularly looking at the nature of the archives; not archives per se. Yet, that is a very important work indeed .

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