n Acta Germanica : German Studies in Africa - „Es ist eine einzige große Katastrophe, überall“ : Eine topologische Formanalyse von Städtebeschreibungen in den Prosawerken W.G. Sebalds mit kritischer Bezugnahme auf ihre literaturwissenschaftliche Rezeption

Volume 46 Number 1
  • ISSN : 0065-1273


“It is a sole great catastrophy, everywhere.” – A topological analysis of city descriptions in the work of W.G. Sebald with critical reference to its reception in literary studies.

Cities in W.G. Sebald’s work stand for more than mere ruinous landscapes (see Ward 2004). I try to show this by examining the descriptions of cities in Sebald’s work, thereby enhancing the current discourse on this topic with a new perspective. For this reason, I examine the sensual perception of the narrators, who focus on the themes nature, buildings, city planning and human existence. Central aspects in this context are silence, desertedness and associations with death. I conclude that it is possible to differentiate 5 types of cities: Manchester, London/Paris, Constantinople, Jerusalem and German cities. The difference is in their relation to historicity, decay and death. Furthermore, I discern that in the moment of irreversible decay (see Jerusalem) lies the beauty of never-ending catastrophy and melancholy. This persistence of historicity is the ideal of Sebald’s narration that refers to the connection between civilisation and nature.

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