Sebald: siting image with text

Excerpts from Sebald’s obituary in the Guardian:

‘Sebald doubted whether those who had never experienced Theresienstadt or Auschwitz could simply describe what occurred there. That would have been presumptuous, an appropriation of others’ sufferings. Like a Medusa’s head, he felt that the attempts to look directly at the horror would turn a writer into stone, or sentimentality.

It was necessary, he found, to approach this subject obliquely, and to invent a new literary form, part hybrid novel, part memoir and part travelogue, often involving the experiences of one “WG Sebald”, a German writer long settled in East Anglia. He was reluctant to call his books “novels”, because he had little interest in the way contemporary writers seemed to find all meaning in personal relationships, and out of a comic but heartfelt disdain for the “grinding noises” which heavily plotted novels demanded. “As he rose from the table, frowning …” was precisely the type of clumsy machinery, moving a character from here to there, which Sebald mocked.’

‘Sebald, who was a devoted photographer, used images in his novels. Sometimes they were found objects, postcards, or something from an old newspaper. He was an exacting customer at the University of East Anglia copy shop, discussing what might be done with his images, adjusting the size and contrast. The photographs appear without captions and acquire meaning from the surrounding text. We read those enigmatic images through the story which Sebald provides, and then, later, come to the suspicion that they were something more (or less) than an illustration or documentation of the story. The way he handled visual images was characteristic of the way he wrote, determined not to make his point in an assertive way, but with implication and suggestion.’

http://www.guardian.co.uk/news/2001/dec/17/guardianobituaries.books1

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