This essay discusses the role of photographs in Sebald’s Austerlitz. The author argues that photographs constitute a crucial paratext to the entire narrative, making possible the representation of traumatic memories through “the bricolage of words and images.” Engaging with Freudian psychoanalysis and Roland Barthes’s theory on photography, the author demonstrates how the process of retrieving memories and recovering from trauma can be achieved through “bricolage.” In doing so, this essay sheds light on the unique narratology conveyed through Sebald’s quasi-realistic lens.
The Bricolage of Words and Images: W. G. Sebald’s Austerlitz
He Ning is currently associate professor of German literature at Beijing Language and Culture University. She received her doctorate in German language and literature from Peking University. Her current research interests include women in German literature, the interactions between literary text and film, and the relationship between literature and photography.Claire Xue Li is currently a PhD student in comparative literature at the University of Southern California. Her research interests include global modernism, psychoanalytic narratology, the novel, and Chinese literature.
He Ning, Claire Xue Li; The Bricolage of Words and Images: W. G. Sebald’s Austerlitz. boundary 2 1 August 2020; 47 (3): 185–192. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/01903659-8524505
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