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Getting Under Your Skin: Sebald on Chatwin and Flaubert

Getting Under Your Skin: Sebald on Chatwin and Flaubert Patrick ffrench Sebald on Chatwin and Flaubert The melancholic turn of W.G. Sebald’s prose has been a recurrent feature of critical commentary on his work: an early critical volume names Sebald the “Anatomist of Melancholy” (Görner), as if to suggest that Sebald is pursuing the legacy of Robert Burton; through its title alone The Rings of Saturn consecrates the melancholic temperament as the dominant mood of the writing; Dora Osborne remarks of The Emigrants that the nomadic tendencies of Sebald’s protagonists are “resisted by the overwhelmingly melancholic force of traumatic history, which ultimately determines the course of Sebald’s narratives” (Osborne 106); Greg Bond notes Sebald’s confessed affinity with the seventeenth-­ entury English writer Thomas Browne, who, in The Rings of Saturn is accredited by Sebald with the view that “On every new thing there lies already the shadow of annihilation” (23–4, cited in Bond 39); Eric Santner, in the extraordinarily rich study On Creaturely Life: Rilke, Benjamin, Sebald, sees in melancholy the driving force of Sebald’s work, and explores the deep ramifications of this insight, extending from the affective tonality of melancholy in the writing itself, into the politics and sexuality of the “creature,” whose subjectivity, and whose http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png The Comparatist University of North Carolina Press

Getting Under Your Skin: Sebald on Chatwin and Flaubert

The Comparatist , Volume 41 – Nov 1, 2017

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Publisher
University of North Carolina Press
Copyright
Copyright © Southern Comparative Literature Association.
ISSN
1559-0887
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Abstract

Patrick ffrench Sebald on Chatwin and Flaubert The melancholic turn of W.G. Sebald’s prose has been a recurrent feature of critical commentary on his work: an early critical volume names Sebald the “Anatomist of Melancholy” (Görner), as if to suggest that Sebald is pursuing the legacy of Robert Burton; through its title alone The Rings of Saturn consecrates the melancholic temperament as the dominant mood of the writing; Dora Osborne remarks of The Emigrants that the nomadic tendencies of Sebald’s protagonists are “resisted by the overwhelmingly melancholic force of traumatic history, which ultimately determines the course of Sebald’s narratives” (Osborne 106); Greg Bond notes Sebald’s confessed affinity with the seventeenth-­ entury English writer Thomas Browne, who, in The Rings of Saturn is accredited by Sebald with the view that “On every new thing there lies already the shadow of annihilation” (23–4, cited in Bond 39); Eric Santner, in the extraordinarily rich study On Creaturely Life: Rilke, Benjamin, Sebald, sees in melancholy the driving force of Sebald’s work, and explores the deep ramifications of this insight, extending from the affective tonality of melancholy in the writing itself, into the politics and sexuality of the “creature,” whose subjectivity, and whose

Journal

The ComparatistUniversity of North Carolina Press

Published: Nov 1, 2017

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