This essay reads “As Day and Night,” an essay W. G. Sebald wrote about artist and friend Jan Peter Tripp, as a complex and multilayered commentary on the role of both written and visual texts in the author’s oeuvre. It draws on Sebald’s Austerlitz as well as the work of French phenomenologist Maurice Merleau-Ponty to argue for the centrality of the human gaze in Sebald’s imagination. The human gaze forges a unique form of realism in Sebald, playing a central role in revealing the “metaphysical underside” of objects, which in turn provokes an ethical response in the reader-viewer.
Witnessing the Past in the Work of W. G. Sebald
Maria Malikova holds PhDs in comparative literature from Tampere University (Fin-land) and in Russian literature from the Institute of Russian Literature (Pushkin House) of the Russian Academy of Sciences in St. Petersburg. She is currently a researcher at the Institute of Russian Literature.Timothy J. Haehn received a PhD in comparative literature from UCLA. He works on twentieth-century American and Russian literature and translation studies.
Maria Malikova, Timothy J. Haehn; Witnessing the Past in the Work of W. G. Sebald. boundary 2 1 August 2020; 47 (3): 177–184. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/01903659-8524493
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