The Emigrants

by / Filed under Thinking

It is good to be reading Sebald again. Had a rather odd moment when a description of something suggested Nabokov catching butterflies in the mountains. I turned the page and there was a photo (which I have in my Nabokov’s Butterflies collection) of Nabokov, beshorted, clutching a butterfly net.

The meaning in Sebald is suggested through allusion and the structure of the narrative; the length and rhythm of the sentences and paragraphs. Dr Henry Selwyn is short and tall, circumstantial and expansive at the same time.

(completed 27 Jan): This is a wonderful book. I love the way Sebald develops life stories; how the first person narrator meets a character who narrates their story, and how that story is developed detail by detail, layer by layer. There are four discrete stories in The Emigrants which are linked through oblique images and themes; catching butterflies (and Nabokov), Manchester, the Alpine lakes, hats, German art. The final pages need deciphering; the daughters of the night.