I stumbled upon a book by Mark McCulloh on Understanding Sebald in Google books. The book contains Sebald’s biographic details, his writing style and chapters singularly dedicated to each of his four novels which have been published in English (I am quite proud of being the prospective owner of all four of them, now that I have ordered Emigrants and Vertigo from Landmark online!).
In the initial chapter on Sebald’s Literary Monism, McCulloh discusses Sebald’s fascination with the past – something which no reader of Sebald can ignore. He puts it as:
…Everywhere in Sebald’s work, beginning with his poetry, that the author recalls the past, recovers the past, and seeks to depict how the present fades imperceptibly into the past. His narrators and many of his characters are convinced that the dead are with us still, a part of who we are, and he is intent on telling their often obscured or suppressed tales…
Actually, Sebald’s narration of the obscured tales is what endeared his works to me most. His narration,too, is special in its own sphere, moving through the world noiselessly, observing a world which knows nothing of his presence. In McCulloh’s words,
His own narrative, as German readers have pointed out again and again, is archaic, that of a specter.
This may be a nice introduction for people intending to read Sebald, or others like me who are eager to delve deeper.