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Getting Under Your Skin: Sebald on Chatwin and Flaubert

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)273-287
Number of pages14
JournalThe Comparatist
Accepted/In press23 Mar 2017
PublishedOct 2017


  • Getting Under Your Skin_FFRENCH_Accepted23March2017_GREEN AAM (TBC)

    Getting_Under_Your_Skin_FFRENCH_Accepted23March2017_GREEN_AAM_TBC_.pdf, 470 KB, application/pdf

    Uploaded date:22 Jun 2017

    Version:Accepted author manuscript

    For publication in The Comparatist, 2017. © University of North Carolina Press. Used by permission of the publisher.

King's Authors


Melancholy is a well-established tool in critical work on W.G. Sebald. Yet the aggressivity associated with it, particularly in the psychoanalytic work of Melanie Klein, has not provoked sufficient critical attention to the subtle violence at work in Sebald’s writing, particularly in his references to other writers. This violence is exemplified in a consistent focus on the skin, which, as a double of the surface of the text, is often the object of destructive or consumptive processes. Sebald’s prose weaves complex processes of the desiccation of the skin, on the one hand, and its susceptibility to invasive infection, on the other, around the textual figures of Chatwin and Flaubert. If skin, in Sebald’s work, seems prone to a global tendency towards entropic finality, toward dust, this has important consequences for our conception of the textual surface of his work.

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