This collection of essays by W G Sebald has waited 15 years to be translated into English. Apart from Rousseau, its subjects are relatively unknown to English readers, so that may seem reasonable. But anyone interested in Sebald and his work will regret that it has taken so long. For with Sebaldian irony, these critical essays secretly comprise a very personal book.
The first note Sebald strikes in his foreword is personal: ‘I can still remember quite clearly how, when I set out from Switzerland for Manchester in the early autumn of 1966, I placed Gottfried Keller’s Der grüne Heinrich, Johann Peter Hebel’s Schatzkästlein des Rheinischen Hausfreunds, and a disintegrating copy of