The introduction to this special issue of boundary 2 examines W. G. Sebald’s rapid and sudden transformation from controversial and curmudgeonly Germanist to literary superstar as a case study in the “global valences of the critical.” The massive success of Sebald’s strange and variegated oeuvre among critics highlights a pervasive and troubling provincialism afflicting this supposedly global moment in world cultural history. Using Sebald’s The Rings of Saturn, the author links the emergence of “distant” modes of reading to drone warfare and concludes by calling for greater emphasis on literary translation.

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