W. G. Sebald was born in Wertach im Allgau, Germany, in 1944. He studied German language and literature in Freiburg, Switzerland, and Manchester. He taught at the University of East Anglia in Norwich, England, for thirty years, becoming professor of European literature in 1987, and from 1989 to 1994 was the first director of the British Centre for Literary Translation. His books The Rings of Saturn, The Emigrants, Vertigo, and Austerlitz have won a number of international awards, including the National Book Critics Circle Award, the Los Angeles Times Book Award, the Berlin Literature Prize, and the LiteraTour Nord Prize. He died in December 2001.
Translator Jo Catling joined the University of East Anglia as Lecturer in German Literature and Language in 1993, teaching German and European literature alongside W. G. Sebald. She has published widely on both Sebald and Rainer Maria Rilke.
"Measured, solemn, sardonic . . . hypnotic . . . [W. G. Sebald's] books, which he made out of classics, remain classics for now."--Joshua Cohen, The New York Times Book Review
"In Sebald's writing, everything is connected, everything webbed together by the unseen threads of history, or chance, or fate, or death. The scholarly craft of gathering scattered sources and weaving them into a coherent whole is transformed here into something beautiful and unsettling, elevated into an art of the uncanny--an art that was, in the end, Sebald's strange and inscrutable gift."--Slate "Magnificent . . . The multiple layers surrounding each essay are seamless to the point of imperceptibility."--New York Daily News "Sebald's most tender and jovial book."--The Nation "Reading [A Place in the Country is] like going for a walk with a beautifully talented, deeply passionate novelist from Mars."--New York "The publication in English of A Place in the Country brings us closer to Sebald's oft elusive inner-evolution. . . . It is a pleasure to read again in 2014, so lucid and temperate a voice as the late author's on ideas and elements of humanity so familiar--and thus so difficult to describe freshly--as dislocation, literary memory, and the unpaid dividends thereof."--The Brooklyn Rail "A Place in the Country's publication in English is something to celebrate."--W. S. Merwin "Out of exquisitely attuned feeling for the past, Sebald fashioned an entirely new form of literature. I've read his books countless times trying to understand how he did it. In the end, I can only say that he practiced a kind of magic born out of almost supernatural sensitivity. A Place in the Country extends the too-short time we were given in his company."--Nicole Krauss "Few writers have traveled as quickly from obscurity to the sort of renown that yields an adjective as quickly as German writer W. G. Sebald (1944-2001), and now Sebaldian is as evocative as Kafkaesque. Sebald is that rare being: an inimitable stylist who creates extraordinary sentences that, like crystals, simultaneously refract and magnify meaning. This posthumous collection, a boon to Sebald admirers, is a series of tributes to writers and artists Sebald admires and feels affinity with. . . . All of Sebald's subjects had uneasy relations with their times and with themselves: 'Exile, as [Gottfried] Keller describes it, is a form of purgatory located just outside the world.' One does not have to leave home to feel bereft, and Sebald is the great contemporary master of this liminal territory."--Booklist "A beautiful book."--The Spectator "An intimate anatomy of the pathos, absurdity and perverse splendour of trying to find patterns in the chaos of the world."--The Telegraph "A fascinating volume that confirms Sebald as one of Europe's most mysterious and best-loved literary imaginations."--Evening Standard "This illuminating collection shows a writer at his most inquisitive, gazing deeply under the surface of things and grappling with the difficulties of personal and collective memory."--Financial Times "[A Place in the Country is] illuminating for its insight into the author's work and its obsessions, themes, and observations on home and exile. . . . Contemplating the work of others, Sebald writes from a writer's rather than a reader's perspective, of one who shares the affliction. . . . This last word from the novelist provides a nice footnote on his own writing."--Kirkus Reviews "Sebald's subtle dissection . . . illuminates the writer's trade . . . by one of its more elusive practitioners. . . . These essays are well worth reading."--Library Journal "Catling's translation will be welcomed by his fans. Catling taught with Sebald in the last decade of his life, and her flowing translation pays crucial attention to the prosody and contours of Sebald's sentences."--Publishers Weekly