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“To Live Outside of Time”: The Sebald Bibliography in Saturn’s Moons

More than two-hundred pages of Saturn’s Moons:W.G. Sebald – A Handbook are dedicated to a stunning bibliographic survey of Sebald.  I calculate that if all of the entries here were laid end to end they would indeed extend to Saturn and back – hence the source of the book’s title, no doubt.  The co-conspirators behind this effort are Richard Sheppard, Jo Catling, Richard Hibbitt, Lynn Wolff, and Gordon Turner.

How do I convey what an extraordinary undertaking this bibliography represents?  Let’s just look at the entry for Schwindel. Gefühle (Vertigo), which covers nearly two densely packed pages.  The five different German editions are covered in depth, with notations about the size of edition, the number of printings, and brief comments on the textual and image differences between the editions.  This is followed by bibliographic entries for the seventeen foreign languages into which this book have been translated (or are known to be in the works).   Just for the sake of  comparison, Die Ausgewanderten (The Emigrants) has been translated into twenty-seven languages, Die Ringe des Saturn into twenty-two languages, and Austerlitz into twenty-nine.

If it accomplished nothing else, the massive effort by Sheppard et alia points to the productivity and work ethic of Sebald, who most people will know only as the author of a handful of books.  For starters, Sebald had more than twenty publications (classed as “Juvenalia”) before exiting university.  During the thirty years of his writing career (roughly 1970-2001), Sebald published seventy-six critical articles and essays, plus thirty-one book reviews, many of which appeared in multiple publications (hence, another seventeen pages of exceptional literary sleuthing).  And then there are the poems, the published letters, the fifty-four interviews, and even a handful of translations by Sebald.

The “Secondary Bibliography” covers everything published about Sebald, including monographs, special journal editions, articles, chapters, entries in reference works, obituaries, tributes, poems on Sebald, theses and dissertations, and even art works, exhibitions, and performance inspired by Sebald.  A separate section (thirty-two pages) covers nothing but the reviews of Sebald’s works.  Gordon Turner provides an “Audio-Visual Bibliography,” which mostly covers materials located in archives in Norwich and Marbach.  And then there is a detailed “Chronology” that runs from 1943 until 2011 (sixty-four pages).

I saved the most fascinating and astonishing section for last.  Richard Sheppard has indexed all of the interviews conducted with Sebald for every reference to a name, a title, or a topic.  If the reader wants to see what Sebald said about, say, Theodor Adorno, Jane Austen, Henry Ford, Jean Genet, Gruppe 47, Ernest Hemingway, Adolf Hitler, Herman Melville, Virginia Woolf, animals, butterflies and moths, depression, irony, the Treblinka trials, or countless other names or topics, the index will direct you to the appropriate interviews.  (Now, all you have to do is track the interviews down.)  Two of my favorite topics in the index were: “surgery, fear of” and  “greatest wish: to live outside of time”.

Hats off to the crew who have given us with this monumental bibliographic record!

9 Comments Post a comment
  1. ‘The “Secondary Bibliography” covers everything published about Sebald, including monographs, special journal editions, articles, chapters, entries in reference works, obituaries, tributes, poems on Sebald, theses and dissertations, and even art works, exhibitions, and performance inspired by Sebald…’
    And blogs? Does your excellent work get a mention?

    September 25, 2011
    • Andrew, Yes, the Secondary Bibliography does list both online resources that focus on Sebald: Vertigo and Christian Wirth’s German site 


      September 25, 2011
  2. Ελένη Σεληνιάδου-Γκάρβιν #

    Yes, I too agree with Andrew. I follow your blog for many years now, and as a result of it, I’ve got in front of me many of books devoted to Max. But I am always hungry for more. Thank you for your blog.

    September 25, 2011
  3. Blogging style lit. crit. not necessarily always a secondary source anymore; without this excellent one many readers would not have had the opportunity to discuss ideas about Sebald and his writings.

    The Handbook looks like an extremely valuable source for Sebald scholars and enthusiasts alike.

    September 26, 2011
  4. F.H. #

    Terry, do you know of any planned or proposed collection of Sebald’s academic criticism and essays? There’s a piece out last week in the Times Higher Education by Uwe Schütte about Sebald’s academic career that makes me wonder. Have you read it?

    September 26, 2011
    • I am not aware of any plans to publish Sebald’s previously uncollected academic criticism. Uwe’s piece made me want to start buying up old copies of the Journal of European Studies.


      September 26, 2011
  5. Prof. Richard Sheppard #

    To the best of my knowledge, no collected edition of Max’s critical works is due to appear. Some of his work will soon be appearing in English translation by Jo Catling, and two young German scholars are trying to publish a volume that contains as many of his interviews as possible. That’s all folks …

    October 6, 2011
  6. Prof. Richard Sheppard #

    P.S. The volume of interviews has now appeared in the Fischer Verlag, Fr/Main, with Torsten Hoffmann as its editor. It costs less than 10 Euros. Six of the interviews have never before appeared in print; only one of these contains familiar material; and two of them contain are very interesting indeed because they deal with relatively untouched subject-matter.

    PPS Para.3: Terry: it should be “Juvenilia” (SM, p. 488), but “Juvenalia” sounds much more fun.

    January 26, 2012

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