A masterwork of W. G. Sebald, now with a gorgeous new cover by the famed designer Peter Mendelsund
Perfectly titled, Vertigo —W.G. Sebald's marvelous first novel — is a work that teeters on the edge: compelling, puzzling, and deeply unsettling.
An unnamed narrator, beset by nervous ailments, journeys accross Europe to Vienna, Venice, Verona, Riva, and finally to his childhood home in a small Bavarian village. He is also journeying into the past. Traveling in the footsteps of Stendhal, Casanova, and Kafka, the narrator draws the reader, line by line, into a dizzying web of history, biography, legends, literature, and — most perilously — memories.
About the Author
W. G. Sebald was born in Germany in 1944 and died in 2001. He is the author of The Emigrants, The Rings of Saturn, Vertigo, Austerlitz, After Nature, On the Natural History of Destruction, Unrecounted and Campo Santo.
Michael Hulse is an English translator, critic, and poet. Hulse has translated more than sixty books from the German.
Few writers have traveled as quickly from obscurity to the sort of renown that yields an adjective as quickly as German writer W. G. Sebald (1944 - 2001), and now Sebaldian is as evocative as Kafkaesque. Sebald is that rare being: an inimitable stylist who creates extraordinary sentences that, like crystals, simultaneously refract and magnify meaning.
In Sebald's writing, everything is connected, everything webbed together by the unseen threads of history, or chance, or fate, or death... beautiful and unsettling, elevated into an art of the uncanny - an art that was, in the end, Sebald's strange and inscrutable gift.
One emerges from it shaken, seduced, and deeply impressed.
— Anita Brookner - Spectator
Tragic, stunningly beautiful, strange and haunting. The secret of Sebald's appeal is that he saw himself in what now seems almost an old-fashioned way as a voice of conscience, someone who remembers injustice, who speaks for those who can no longer speak.
— The New York Review of Books
Few writers make one more aware of the seductive powers of language.
— Tim Parks - The New York Review of Books
Think of W.G. Sebald as memory's Einstein.
— Richard Eder - The New York Times
Sebald stands with Primo Levi as the prime speaker of the Holocaust and, with him, the prime contradiction of Adorno's dictum that after it, there can be no art.
— Richard Eder - The New York Times Book Review
Sebald has done what every writer dreams of doing.
— Roberta Silman - The New York Times Book Review
Sebald is a thrilling, original writer. He makes narration a state of investigative
bliss. His narrative doesn't just tell stories; it offers itself as a model of consciousness, demonstrating that to be fully aware of oneself in time is to suffer incurable vertigo. In his droll way, Sebald possesses the world-covering ambition of a magus: he wants a book to be like his old childhood atlas, made to hold... all conceivable mysteries.
— W. S. Di Piero - The New York Times Book Review
The books are fascinating for the way they inhabit their own self-determined genre, but that's not ultimately why they are essential reading. There is a moral magnitude and a weary, melancholy wisdom in Sebald's writing that transcends the literary and attains something like an oracular register. Reading him feels like being spoken to in a dream. He does away with the normal proceedings of narrative fiction - plot, characterization, events leading to other events - so that what we get is the unmediated expression of a pure and seemingly disembodied voice. That voice is an extraordinary presence in contemporary literature, and it may be another decade before the magnitude - and the precise nature - of utterances are fully realized.
— The New Yorker
Is literary greatness still possible? What would a noble literary enterprise look like now? One of the few answers available to English-language readers is the work of W.G. Sebald.
— Susan Sontag - The Times Literary Supplement
For all its dark contents and burden of undeclared grief, Vertigo is dizzyingly light and transparent.
— Benjamin Kunkel - The Village Voice
A haunting masterpiece from W.G. Sebald.
— The Washington Post
An intensely personal work, showing us Sebald's genesis as a writer, and it is constantly stimulating.
— Sebastian Shakespeare - TLS
One of contemporary literature’s most transformative figures: utterly unique.
— New Yorker