The Rings of Saturn
|The Rings of Saturn|
1st edition cover
|Author||W. G. Sebald|
|Original title||Die Ringe des Saturn|
|Published in English||1998|
The Rings of Saturn (German: Die Ringe des Saturn: Eine englische Wallfahrt - An English Pilgrimage) is a 1995 novel by the German writer W. G. Sebald. Its first-person narrative arc is the account by a nameless narrator (who resembles the author in typical Sebaldian fashion) on a walking tour of Suffolk. In addition to describing the places he sees and people he encounters, including translator Michael Hamburger, Sebald discusses various episodes of history and literature, including the introduction of silkworm cultivation to Europe and the writings of Thomas Browne, which attach in some way to the larger text. The book was published in English in 1998. A film, Patience (After Sebald), directed by Grant Gee and released in 2012, is based on this book.
Genre and content
Combining the details of a walking tour with meditations prompted by places and people encountered on that tour, The Rings of Saturn was called "a hybrid of a book--fiction, travel, biography, myth, and memoir".
Themes and style
Themes in the book are those treated in Sebald's other books: time, memory, and identity. According to Patrick Lennon's "In the Weaver's Web" (and Mark McCulloh's Understanding W. G. Sebald), The Rings of Saturn merges the identities of the Sebaldian narrator with that of Michael Hamburger--Sebald and Hamburger being both German writers who moved to England and shared other important experiences. What's more, Hamburger's identity becomes fused with that of Friedrich Hölderlin, and the merging is emphasized by Sebald's (typical) omission of quotation marks for quotations, further eroding separation of speakers in Sebald's account of the narrator's recollection of Hamburger's recollection.
- McCulloh, Mark (2003). Understanding W.G. Sebald. Columbia, S.C.: University of South Carolina Press. pp. 57–83. ISBN 978-1-57003-506-7.
- Miller, A. D. (Spring 2011). "Notes on a Voice: W. G. Sebald". Intelligent Life (magazine). Retrieved 9 June 2013.
- Silman, Roberta (26 July 1998). "In the Company of Ghosts A novel uses a walking tour in East Anglia to meditate on links between past and present, East and West.". The New York Times. Retrieved 9 June 2013.
- Lennon, Patrick (2006). "In the Weaver's Web: An Intertextual Approach to W. G. Sebald and Laurence Sterne". In Denham, Scott; McCulloh, Mark. W. G. Sebald: History - Memory - Trauma. Walter de Gruyter. pp. 91–104. ISBN 9783110201949.