Sunday, November 25, 2007

Spectral presences

How can a book so absorbed in the minutiae of daily life be so thoroughly imbued by a sense of loss?
Vertigo: Collecting WG Sebald asks the question of Jacques Roubaud's novel The Great Fire of London and, in another post, compares the relation of photographs in this book to those used by Sebald in his. It also includes quotations from what looks like a fascinating interview with Sebald:
I have always had at the back of my mind this notion that [dead] people aren’t really gone, they just hover somewhere at the perimeter of our lives and keep coming in on brief visits. And photographs are for me, as it were, one of the emanations of the dead, especially those older photographs of people no longer with us. Nevertheless, through these pictures, they do have what seems to me some sort of spectral presence.
Going back to Roubaud though: in a post earlier today, I mentioned the occasional value of books of the year lists. Well, it's 18 years since one in the Independent sparked my interest in Roubaud's great work. It's also four years since I posted an essay about the translation. It's good that the word is spreading.

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