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Norwich – Literary Utopia?

Jonathan Player for The New York Times

Today’s New York Times Travel section has an article Norwich, England – A Getaway for Book Lovers (that’s the title online; in the print version it’s called Where Writers, and Readers, Feel at Home).  Several contemporary writers are mentioned, notably Kazuo Ishiguro, along with  a passing reference to the burial site of Sir Thomas Browne.  There’s no mention of W.G. Sebald nor did the Times writer bother to find out the name of the artist who hand painted the entire text of Sir Thomas More’s Utopia on the brick facade of an old electrical plant, one of the locations she highlights.   A quick Google search produces the artist’s name: Rory Macbeth.  Check out the Flickr stream of norfolkodyssey, which contains a number of photographs of the site.  If you’re going to Snape Maltings next weekend for the big event After Sebald – Place and Re-Enchantment: A Weekend Exploration,  a side trip to Norwich doesn’t look too difficult.

Maybe Norwich should apply to become a UNESCO City of Literature.

5 Comments Post a comment
  1. JJ Keng #

    What are the top Sebald books you would recommend? Could you make a list and let me know of all the sebald books I should read and in what order!


    January 24, 2011
    • I’d start with The Emigrants (probably the most accessible of the Big Four Fictions), then read The Rings of Saturn, then Vertigo (the hardest of the four, I think), and end with Austerlitz. By coincidence, I think this is the order in which the four books were translated into English (although not, of course, the order of writing).

      January 24, 2011
      • JJ Keng #

        What about UNRECOUNTED, CAMPO SANTO, ON Natural HIstory of Destruction, Emergence of Memory and any biographies? Thanks!

        January 25, 2011
  2. Problem is Terry, although Norwich is the home of two Christian mystics Julian and Browne and the UEA Creative writing course which was started by Angus Wilson and Malcolm Bradbury which has had Ian MacEwan, Tracy Chevalier, Kazuo Ishiguru and of course Sebald amongst alumni, few Norwich residents, other than genuine Norvicensians such as myself, know or care very much about their cultural heritage. Sir Thomas Browne for one is far too difficult/ beyond average literary prowess for most to read ! Such is the march of progress, but i for one, continue to bang on about him!

    Let’s see what happens when the 10th anniversary of Sebald’s untimely death happens later this year!

    January 24, 2011
  3. JJ – I tend to agree with Brian about where to start reading Sebald. The four works of prose fiction are, I think, the core of his work. For poetry, I recommend After Nature; Unrecounted strikes me as simpler, less satisfying fare. Campo Santo is a great way to become introduced to Sebald’s wonderful essays. And the interviews with Sebald in Emergence of Memory are first rate. After these items, you’d have to start moving into more academic works about Sebald’s writing (and there are many such books) if that’s your interest; some of these will require a good knowledge of German. There is no true biography yet. I hope this helps.

    January 27, 2011

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