Sebald on Writing

I’m rereading W. G. Sebald’s The Rings of Saturn because I’m teaching it in my nonfiction workshop. I haven’t yet come across this quote, but I found it in a book review from the New York Times, so it is apparently in the book. It is brilliant:

For days and weeks on end one racks one’s brains to no avail, and, if asked, one could not say whether one goes on writing purely out of habit, or a craving for admiration, or because one knows not how to do anything other, or out of sheer wonderment, despair or outrage, any more than one could say whether writing renders one more perceptive or more insane.

Dad didn’t like the book, nor did Karina, but it is one of the most fascinating books I’ve ever read. If you want a sampling, you can read the first chapter of it (without the pictures that are in the print edition) online

PatrickQuotes11/12/04 1 comments


Dad • 11/16/04 9:45 PM:

At first I recoiled against your statement that I didn’t like the book, but then realized it was true. I did read it cover to cover, though, and that’s saying something. I kept looking for the spectacular parts that had gripped you so strongly, but without avail. Maybe it would have been better not to have heard your glowing review beforehand.

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