NABOKV-L post 0026070, Wed, 11 Mar 2015 16:14:42 -0300

Hurtiling through time...W.G.Sebald
Former posting (Jansy Mello) - The third ingredient of inspiration, the
future ("your book", a "figure of style.a specter of thought"), still
baffles me [ ] When he begins to write his book, the author must return
to mortal time, together with his characters (perhaps the latter is not
obligatory)[ ] Although the writer cannot know his own future (except that
he will die someday), inspiration has provided him with a complete landscape
and story for the people he invents. His creations are inserted in a
deterministic plot and, on top of everything else, the writer already knows
their future! And what is this future for Nabokov? Does it differ
significantly from one novel to another?

Present posting: W.G.Sebald, in his book "The Emigrants" inserted a
photograph, in black and white, of Vladimir Nabokov in the Swiss Alps.

During an interview with Eleanor Wachtel (Oct.16,1997), published in English
in the book "The Emergence of Memory: conversations with W. Sebald" (Seven
Stories Press, NY,2007), which I must translate back into English since my
copy is in another language, Sebald was inquired about the photographs
inserted in his texts. WGS replied that they proceeded from different
sources and served for different objectives, adding that most of the photos
are "authentic" (taken independently of his project as story-teller) and
that they serve to attest to the truth of his report: "we are more inclined
to believe in images than in words". This is why, for him (at that time),
photographs allow the narrator to add legitimacy to what he is relaying to
the reader.

"This has always been a preoccupation for realistic fiction writers and my
work ("The Emigrants") is a form of realistic fiction.[ ]The second
function of the pictures is, perhaps, to "stop time." For him, "fiction is
an artistic form that follows temporality, that tend towards an ending, that
works over a negative gradient and it is very, very difficult for this
particular kind of narrative to halt the flux of time. As we all know, this
is exactly what pleases us in certain forms of plastic arts - you are in a
museum and you contemplate wonderful paintings from the XVI or XVIII
Centuries and your are transported outside of time. If you are capable of
warding off temporality then, in a certain way, you may now reach a kind of

It was a nice coincidence to come across this Sebald interview while I'd
been engaged in quoting a Nabokov interview in which he mentions
atemporality and paintings in contrast with scripture. Sebald mentions "a
kind of redemption" (he is very cautious and his sentences usually resort to
"some sorf of", "A kind of", "a way or a form of."). When I read this I was
immediately carried over to what V.Nabokov wrote about his novel "Lolita"
when, in a retrospective view, he feels it as a painting hanging on a wall
(I wish I had my books by me to quote these words correctly). Perhaps the
entire process of writing fiction was for him a way to engender a mental
picture that could be felt "outside time" and. as a kind of redemption!

The image I added to this posting is a reproduction of the original
photograph of V.N in the Alps set by side of a second reproduction of it, as
it was published in Sebald's book.


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