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Literary Criticism General

A literature of restitution

Critical essays on W. G. Sebald

edited by Jeannette Baxter, Valerie Henitiuk & Ben Hutchinson

Oxford University Press
Initial publish date
Oct 2013
  • Hardback

    Publish Date
    Oct 2013
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This book investigates the crucial question of "restitution" in the work of W. G. Sebald. Written by a range of leading scholars from fields as various as translation studies, English, German, and comparative literature, photography, critical theory, psychoanalysis, poetry, and art theory, the essays collected in the volume place Sebald's oeuvre within the broader context of European culture in order better to understand his engagement with the ethics of aesthetics.

Whilst opening up his work to a range of under-explored areas - including dissident surrealism, Anglo-Irish relations, contemporary performance practices, and the writings of H. G. Adler - the volume also brings renewed impetus to the standard view of Sebald as a "Holocaust writer"; following the lead established by his English translator Anthea Bell in her foreword, the essays all share a close attention to linguistic detail, returning to the original German texts in an attempt to do justice to Sebald's complex literary style.

The recurring themes identified over the course of the collection - from Sebald's carefully calibrated syntax to his self-consciousness about "genre", from his interest in liminal spaces to his literal and metaphorical preoccupation with blindness and vision - all suggest that the "attempt at restitution" is both a thematic preoccupation and a narrative technique, and that as such it arguably constitutes the very essence of Sebald's understanding of literature. The volume will thus appeal not only to students and scholars of Sebald, but to anyone with a serious interest in the problems and possibilities of postwar European writing.

About the authors

Jeannette Baxter's profile page

Valerie Henitiuk is the executive director of the Centre for the Advancement of Faculty Excellence, and professor in the Department of English at MacEwan University. Her research focuses primarily on translation studies, world literature, Japanese literature, and women’s writing. She is also editor-in-chief of the journal Translation Studies.

Valerie Henitiuk's profile page

Ben Hutchinson's profile page

Editorial Reviews

"The assembled essays discuss familiar issues - including intertextuality, photography, memory and architecture - but often from original perspectives, focusing on lesser known aspects such as Sebald's poetry and his unfinished Corsica project."

--Carolin Duttlinger; Times Literary Supplement; 07/02/201

Other titles by Valerie Henitiuk