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"Remembrance... is nothing other than a quotation": The Intertextual Fictions of W. G. Sebald

"Remembrance... is nothing other than a quotation": The Intertextual Fictions of W. G. Sebald COMPARATIVE LITERATURE / 262 dangerously blurred, since without the reader’s nod of recognition the borrowed words pass as the author’s own. Like Eliot’s montage of allusion, pastiche, and parody in The Waste Land, Sebald’s density of reference also runs a second risk: that of alienating those readers who view it as a form of intellectual snobbery. One unenchanted reviewer cited by McCulloh claims that the appeal of Sebald’s work is essentially that of “recognizing the explicit and veiled literary references and congratulating oneself for having done so,”2 while in an article in Radical Philosophy Stewart Martin sneers at the “rather middlebrow appreciation of [Sebald’s] learnedness” and the “sentimental, arty and conservative quality” of his work (19). In response to these negative views, I shall argue that Sebald’s intertextuality is neither misappropriation nor literary exhibitionism but a fertile engagement with earlier texts that contributes to the historical layering of his narratives. Intertextuality has long been acknowledged as an inescapable condition of writing, since any text echoes or reinscribes a multitude of others in as much as it emerges out of the cultural “text” in which the writer is embedded. Originally formulated by Julia Kristeva in the late 1960s and http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Comparative Literature Duke University Press

"Remembrance... is nothing other than a quotation": The Intertextual Fictions of W. G. Sebald

Comparative Literature , Volume 60 (3) – Jan 1, 2008

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Publisher
Duke University Press
Copyright
Copyright 2008 by University of Oregon
ISSN
0010-4124
eISSN
1945-8517
DOI
10.1215/-60-3-261
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

COMPARATIVE LITERATURE / 262 dangerously blurred, since without the reader’s nod of recognition the borrowed words pass as the author’s own. Like Eliot’s montage of allusion, pastiche, and parody in The Waste Land, Sebald’s density of reference also runs a second risk: that of alienating those readers who view it as a form of intellectual snobbery. One unenchanted reviewer cited by McCulloh claims that the appeal of Sebald’s work is essentially that of “recognizing the explicit and veiled literary references and congratulating oneself for having done so,”2 while in an article in Radical Philosophy Stewart Martin sneers at the “rather middlebrow appreciation of [Sebald’s] learnedness” and the “sentimental, arty and conservative quality” of his work (19). In response to these negative views, I shall argue that Sebald’s intertextuality is neither misappropriation nor literary exhibitionism but a fertile engagement with earlier texts that contributes to the historical layering of his narratives. Intertextuality has long been acknowledged as an inescapable condition of writing, since any text echoes or reinscribes a multitude of others in as much as it emerges out of the cultural “text” in which the writer is embedded. Originally formulated by Julia Kristeva in the late 1960s and

Journal

Comparative LiteratureDuke University Press

Published: Jan 1, 2008

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