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Reverse-Engineering Sebald

For what it is worth, Will Self continues to think and write about W.G. Sebald.  Perhaps not surprisingly, Self’s latest piece in The Guardian is considerably more about Self than Sebald.  Self’s intention seems simple enough:

My decision to “reverse engineer” a Sebaldian piece of writing was an obvious one: I had a similar sensibility already, all I had to do was to take it for a walk and see what it came up with.

And I confess I was vaguely curious about the outcome, which, ultimately, Self declares to be a success.  I’m not so sure.

Suffice to say, the reverse engineering worked, and having sent my own fictive alter ego walking along the collapsing cliffs of the Holderness coast, by the time my actual body arrived, it found the streets of Bridlington – normally thronged with holidaymakers during July – curiously empty. Moreover, as I plodded for mile after mile, I found myself in the uncanny position of activating those events that my alter ego had left, like psychic mantraps, waiting for me.

Well, read it for yourself.

[Thanks to the handful of Vertigo readers who tipped me off to this piece, which appeared in The Guardian February 7, 2009.]

2 Comments Post a comment
  1. petebyrne #

    Hi Terry:

    Self is a smart-ass, but a very entertaining smart-ass. Thanks for the link.


    February 8, 2009
  2. Within a week of Self’s article, we now have this:

    Click to access fivedials_no5.pdf

    It’s a free e-magazine published by Sebald’s publisher, Hamish Hamilton. There’s a piece by Anthea Bell (we know who she is), and pieces that are by turns personal and experiemental (for instance, the A-Z entry).

    All in all, very enjoyable, keeping us in touch with the great man’s work.

    February 13, 2009

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