NABOKV-L post 0026072, Thu, 12 Mar 2015 16:37:08 -0300

[SIGHTING] a 2012 sighting on Nabokov and Sebald
A three-year old review is not a true "Sighting" for our List but I think it
skipped notice and was not posted to the VN-L. I found it today, while
checking about Sebald and Nabokov (let's not forget Maxim Schrayer's
writings about both!)

From Gold:

Thursday, December 13, 2012 W.G. Sebald: Inter-Genre Writer

The Emigrants contains four stories that interweave; but you feel this more
as an uncanny sensation rather than a clear picture of how they are related.
The stories are titled after the main characters, (all but one is Jewish or
partly Jewish, and the one that isn't is gay): Dr. Henry Selwyn (based on a
man he met); Paul Bereyter (modeled after his teacher); Ambros Adelwarth
(about his uncle, a valet); and Max Ferber (an artist). Memory is the most
important subject for him. It is no wonder that a butterfly catcher appears
in his work, a reference toNabokov, for whom memories were also important,
particularly in Nabokov's autobiography Speak, Memory. In "Dr. Henry
Selwyn," Nabokov is represented as a photograph of a man with a butterfly
net (who may or may not actually be Nabokov) (16); in "Paul Bereyter," a
young woman ".had been reading Nabokov's autobiography" which causes Paul to
strike up a conversation with her (43); Ambros Adelwarth hallucinates ".a
man of about sixty.carrying a large white gauze butterfly net." (104); and
he is mentioned in "Max Ferber" as one of Max's paintings, "Man with a
Butterfly Net" (174) and as a Russian boy of ".about ten who had been
chasing butterflies and had lagged so far behind that they had to wait for
him" (213). That is just one example of a theme that runs through all four
stories. Others are suicide, trains, mountains, gardens, and, of course,
emigrants (Nabokov was also an emigrant).

Sebald explored the collective memory of a country through his own belated
discovery. He was born in 1944, too young to have any memory of the horrors
of the Shoah. As he grew older, Germany's part in the genocide was revealed
to him gradually: the German people remained mostly silent. In each of the
four stories that comprise The Emigrants, the narrator gradually learns
about a character (based on a real person) who was affected by the war.
Since he did not experience the pain directly, Sebald had his narrator learn
from those who did, just as he learned. The construction of having the
narrator meet with a character and having that character tell the story of a
third character is fascinating. The boundaries among all of the characters
break down as each speaks in the first person and without quotation marks.
Sometimes you have to reread the paragraph to see where one starts and the
other begins. The reader gains an entry point to the interior thoughts and
feelings of all of the characters. Ultimately, you come away embodying
everyone, and incorporating all of their memories into your own, just as a
writer does when s/he is writing.
For reviews and more info:
<> The Boston Review excellent
review by Lisa Cohen
<> New York Times
2001 review by Margo Jefferson

-sebald.html> The New Yorker 2011 article: "Why You Should Read W.G. Sebald"
by Mark O'Connell
<> New
York Times Books 1997 excellent review "When Memory Speaks" by Larry Wolff

f_Vladimir_Nabokov_in_WG_Sebalds_The_Emigrants> (detailed
article about Sebald and Nabokov)


I tried to google the Nabokov quote I was looking for (from SO, I think) and
found Nabokov's lines in Lolita ready to be hung on a wall:

I'll keep on looking for it, though. Unless any Nabler comes forward with
the needed quote!

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