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Three Encounters with W.G. Sebald (February 1992-July 2013)

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Toby Green, Susan Sontag, Jurgen Wertheimer, Richard Sheppard (Editor)

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)378-414
Number of pages37
Issue number4
PublishedDec 2014

King's Authors


In November 1999, when W. G. Sebald’s reputation was growing, and at the same time as he was labouring under increasing pressures, he was interviewed by Toby Green. The interview is one of Sebald’s most interesting and sombre, dealing with the personal cost of his literary success as a writer, and first appeared on-line. As it is relatively unknown, the Journal of European Studies prints it here for the first time. Although Sebald’s attraction to Susan Sontag’s essays on photography began around 1982, and Sontag’s reciprocal admiration for his prose fiction began in mid-1996, they first met at a combined reading evening on 15 October 2001 in New York: their contributions are reprinted here. Sebald first met Professor Jürgen Wertheimer in January 1992 at a conference in Tübingen on post-Wende Europe. Sebald’s lecture provoked heated discussion and is one of his few explicitly political statements. Wertheimer subsequently kept in contact with Sebald until his death and hoped to entice him to Tübingen as a guest professor. On 3 July 2013 Wertheimer gave a spirited lecture in German which discussed the reception of Sebald’s work and raised difficult questions about the function of literature and criticism under late capitalism. An authorized English translation is published here.

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