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On The Natural History Of Destruction

W. G. Sebald Anthea Bell



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04 March 2004
In the last years of World War II, the Allies dropped a million tons of bombs on Germany. Yet the Garman people have been silent about the resulting devastation and loss of life, failing to recognize the terrible shadow that destruction from the air cast over their land. Here W. G. Sebald, one of the most brilliant writers of the twentieth century, asks why it is we turn our backs on the horrors of war, and, in addressing our response to the past, bravely offers insights into how we live now.
Translated by:  
Imprint:   Penguin
Country of Publication:   United Kingdom
Edition:   New edition
Dimensions:   Height: 198mm,  Width: 129mm,  Spine: 14mm
Weight:   159g
ISBN:   9780140298000
ISBN 10:   0140298002
Pages:   224
Publication Date:  
Audience:   General/trade ,  ELT Advanced
Format:   Paperback
Publisher's Status:   Active

W.G. Sebald was born in Germany in 1944 and died in December 2001. Until his death he was Professor of European Literature at the University of East Anglia. He is the author of THE EMIGRANTS, THE RINGS OF SATURN, VERTIGO, AUSTERLITZ and AFTER NATURE.

Reviews for On The Natural History Of Destruction

In the wake of the Second World War few German writers discussed the devastation it wrought. But, as the late poet, essayist and novelist W G Sebald argues, the Germans were also victims of the war and the carpetbombing of German cities and the resulting suffering has been erased from history. It was never properly documented - instead postwar Germany simply picked up the pieces and tried to move on, its citizens shifting the rubble in an attempt at normality. The lectures printed here paint a startling portrait and this is a disturbing, thought-provoking collection. Sebald reports that 'about 600,000 German civilians fell victim to the air raids and 3.5 million homes were destroyed, while at the end of the war 7.5 million people were left homeless'. He finds it astonishing that this side of the war has been so little written about. How can the destruction be comprehended if it can't be adequately explained? Sebald's literary critiques on the works of three authors crucial to postwar literature - Alfred Andersch, Jean Amery and Peter Weiss - debate this question in depth. The book itself does not excuse or justify the actions of either side; it tries to create, analyse and deconstruct an accurate record, and succeeds remarkably. (Kirkus UK)

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