Time and the Narrative of Memory in Sebald’s Austerlitz
Narratives of memory written to create a time lost or recover an originary scene from which the present derives its significance have little in common with Sebald’s narrative practice. Sebald engages with how the past survives through the experience of the time of its passing. While it is tempting to restrict the time of this experience to a present point abstracted out of time, a point with all the characteristics of being modern (new, original, separated irremediably from the past) such experience becomes in Sebald a journey amongst places haunted by events and histories each of which promise a past by resisting its return. These narratives of journeying derive their significance from Sebald’s persistent engagement with this resistance even in those places – and objects such as photographs – where a sense of the past seems so palpably, even viscerally present.
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