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W.G. Sebald as Translator

Here is the first (and only) example I have found so far of W.G. Sebald being credited as a translator.I was reading about Richard J. Evans, Sebald’s adviser on historical research for the book he was writing at the time of his death. In doing so, I ran across an obscure reference listing Sebald as the translator of a book by Evans that had been published in Germany in 1979.

Evans, a Cambridge professor of modern German history, had served as an expert witness during the 2000 trial of American historian Deborah Lipstadt. She had been sued for libel in England by the British historian David Irving, after she wrote about his work in her book Denying the Holocaust: The Growing Assault on Truth and Memory. Lipstadt and Penguin Books were subsequently found not guilty and Evans wrote a book about the trial and his own study of Irving’s writings Telling Lies About Hitler.

At any rate, on his website, Evans provides his lengthy list of his scholarly publications, including this reference:

SOZIALDEMOKRATIE UND FRAUENEMANZIPATION DEUTSCHEN KAISERREICH. (translated by W. G. Sebald; ISBN 3-8021-119-3 Berlin-Bonn, Verlag J.H.W Dietz Nachfolger, Internationale Bibliothek, Vol. 119, October 1979, pp. 368; revised versions of selected chapters and sections in Comrades and Sisters, June 1987, and Proletarians and Politics, November 1990).

This suggests that Evans (who served as Sebald’s mentor for a NESTA Fellowship in 2000) and Sebald had known each other for a considerable time.

How badly do I want to own a copy of this book?Does it add to my Sebald collection in any meaningful way? As a completist, I want everything by and about Sebald. But sometimes it is hard to know what a future Sebald scholar could glean from studying how Sebald translated a scholarly book on German feminist history from English into German.But, when push comes to shove (to quote Twyla Tharp), I don’t worry about what purpose my collection might serve in the future.

I see that there are a couple of used copies of this title for sale in Germany. Probably one day soon I’ll break down and send off for a copy, if only I can figure out how to plug my new credit card information into Amazon.de…

3 Comments Post a comment
  1. Eleni S. #

    Bravo, my friend, I am a great fun and have been a student of Sebald, and I gather and treasured his books, being continually inspired in my own writing. I always try to find the impossible and unwritten by him book, to finish my endless dealing with the ones which, thank god, exist. I want to visit your site again and find new information about our beloved writer. All the best, Eleni S.

    June 19, 2007
  2. Did you ever get it?

    April 10, 2009
    • No, I have yet to pursue this title. But now that you remind me about it, I may just take a stab at getting a copy soon.

      April 10, 2009

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