The Rings of Saturn

The Rings of Saturn

Book - 1999
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"Ostensibly a record of a journey on foot through coastal East Anglia," as Robert McCrum in theLondon Observer noted,The Rings of Saturn "is also a brilliantly allusive study of England's imperial past and the nature of decline and fall, of loss and decay. . . .The Rings of Saturn is exhilaratingly, you might say hypnotically, readable. . . . It is hard to imagine a stranger or more compelling work."The Rings of Saturn - with its curious archive of photographs - chronicles a tour across epochs as well as countryside. On his way, the narrator meets lonely eccentrics inhabiting tumble-down mansions and links them to Rembrandt's "Anatomy Lesson," the natural history of the herring, a matchstick model of the Temple of Jerusalem, the travels of Sir Thomas Browne's skull, and the massive bombings of WWII. Cataloging change, oblivion, and memories, he connects sugar fortunes, Joseph Conrad, and the horrors of colonizing the Belgian Congo. The narrator finds threads which run from an abandoned bridge over the River Blyth to the terrible dowager Empress Tzu Hsi and the silk industry in Norwich. "Sebald," asThe New Yorker stated, "weaves his tale together with a complexity and historical sweep that easily encompasses both truth and fiction."The Emigrants (hailed by Susan Sontag as an "astonishing masterpiece-perfect while being unlike any book one has ever read") was "one of the great books of the last few years," as Michael Ondaatje noted: "and nowThe Rings of Saturn is a similar and as strange a triumph."
Publisher: New York :, New Directions,, [1999]
Copyright Date: ©1998
ISBN: 9780811214131
Branch Call Number: FIC SEBA
Characteristics: 296 pages : illustrations, map ; 21 cm
Additional Contributors: Hulse, Michael 1955-


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Feb 03, 2019

THE RINGS OF SATURN is a verbal ramble without a central character walking through his memory and what has accrued within it; it has none of the focus of THE EMIGRANTS, much less the profoundly moving coaxing of individual and (modern) cultural memory in AUSTERLITZ. There is no thematic unity, much less any particular cluster of thematic concerns in the writer/walker's/thinker's mind that might prompt a reader to follow this mental strolling without bewilderment and boredom. I did not finish the book. ---Daniel A. Harris

diesellibrarian Mar 05, 2018

This book is a joy to read, for its erudition and for the pathos that runs through it like an underground river. This book is a also heartbreaking read, to the extent that the various narratives upon which the author embarks unfailingly illustrate how the greatest "triumphs" of humanity (our great empires and dynasties and weapons and cities and so on) are hubris and vanity, each shot though with the DNA of failure and decline. At any rate, the most eloquent requiem to the human race that I have yet encountered. Sobering but rewarding.

Feb 01, 2018

I came to this author late, but after reading this narrative, I will seek out his other books. Narrative is like dreamlike, but in the material world. The author lures you into a word stream that you love.

Jun 06, 2016

"....A brilliantly allusive study of England's imperial past and the nature of decline and fall, of loss and decay.... It is hard to imagine a stranger or more compelling work." Robert McCrum, The London Observer.

Apr 16, 2016

If one has to rate Sebald's novels, then this one must be the best of his remarkable works of fiction.

Dec 18, 2014

A wondrously wandering narrative...formally uncanny...can be set beside Momaday's "House Made Of Dawn" and Naipaul's "Enigma Of Arrival."

kevinbrash Mar 13, 2013

At once a stream of consciousness, history and travelogue, yet it becomes like experiencing an erudite's dream. The narrator, who seems to cling to humanism despite all the evidence to the contrary, is particularly a compelling companion on this journey through space and time.


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