Reinforced the suspicion, I had always entertained that the border between life and death is less impermeable than we commonly think...

W. G. Sebald

W. G. Sebald

Profession: Writer
Nationality: German

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I wonder now whether inner coldness and desolation may not be the pre-condition for making the world believe, by a kind of fraudulent showmanship, that one's own wretched heart is still aglow.

I cannot get over the fact that I was born in 1944. I want to find out as much as I can about that year.

Anthropological theory assumes that exposure in a treeless situation where all escape upwards was cut off led to the invention of myths. Kafka's ape, dragged into human society, expresses very similar ideas in his 'Report for an Academy'. It is the absence of any way of escape that has forced him to become human himself.

It just takes one awful second, I often think, and an entire epoch passes.

My texts are written like palimpsests. They are written over and over again, until I feel that a kind of metaphysical meaning can be read through the writing.

My father was not really a presence for me. He was away; he was in the German army.

Going home is not necessarily a wonderful experience. It always comes with a sense of loss and makes you so conscious of the inexorable passage of time.

To my mind, it seems clear that those who have no memory have the much greater chance to lead happy lives. But it is something you cannot possibly escape: your psychological make-up is such that you are inclined to look back over your shoulder.

Tiny details imperceptible to us decide everything!

The moral backbone of literature is about that whole question of memory. To my mind it seems clear that those who have no memory have the much greater chance to lead happy lives.

It would be presumptuous to say writing a book would be a sufficient gesture, but if people were more preoccupied with the past, maybe the events that overwhelm us would be fewer.

Up until the 17th century, Germany was far more advanced, but then everything devastated by the 30 Years War began to fall apart... The culture is not innocent.

Unfortunately I am a completely impractical person, caught up in endless trains of thought. All of us are fantasists, ill-equipped for life, the children as much as myself. It seems to me sometimes that we never get used to being on this earth and life is just one great, ongoing, incomprehensible blunder.

What distinguishes art from such undertaker's business is that life's closeness to death is its theme, not its addiction.