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FuturityContemporary Literature and the Quest for the Past$
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Amir Eshel

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780226924953

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: January 2014

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226924960.001.0001

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Arresting Time: W. G. Sebald's Austerlitz

Arresting Time: W. G. Sebald's Austerlitz

(p.183) 12 Arresting Time: W. G. Sebald's Austerlitz

Amir Eshel

University of Chicago Press

This chapter examines W. G. Sebald's novel Austerlitz. Invoking by turns the rapid economic growth of the nineteenth century, colonialism, the Second World War, the Holocaust, and the Cold War, the novel offers a critical commentary on two hundred years of European history. It tells a story of a past that cannot be relegated to oblivion; it examines the relationship between rationalist modernity and the Nazi genocide; and, with its use of visual images and distended syntax, it produces its very own sense of time, one that does not proceed in a linear manner or divide easily into the distinct realms of past, present, and future.

Keywords:   novels, European history, rationalist modernity, Nazi genocide

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