W. G. Sebald’s Postsecular Redemption

Cloth Text – $99.95

ISBN 978-0-8101-3810-0

E-book – $34.95

ISBN 978-0-8101-3811-7

Paper Text – $34.95

ISBN 978-0-8101-3808-7
Publication Date
November 2018
Page Count
232 pages
Trim Size
6 x 9

W. G. Sebald’s Postsecular Redemption

Catastrophe with Spectator
Russell J. A. Kilbourn

Focusing on W. G. Sebald's four works of prose fiction—The Rings of Saturn, Vertigo, The Emigrants, and Austerlitz—Russell J. A. Kilbourn traces the author's abiding preoccupation with redemption in a world that has been described as postsecular. He shows that Sebald's work stands between modernism's ironic hopes for redemption and whatever comes after. Out of the spectacle of humankind's slow-motion self-destruction, a "Sebaldian subject"—masculine, melancholic, ironic, potentially queer-emerges across the four prose narratives.

Alongside Sebald studies' traditional subjects, which include memory, historiography, Sebald's critique of an image-based culture, and his highly intermedial poetics, W. G. Sebald's Postsecular Redemption demonstrates Sebald's relevance for affect theory, new materialism, and the posthuman turn. It critiques the possibility of metaphysical or eroto-salvific models of redemption, arguing against the temptation of psychoanalytic interpretations, as Sebald's work of memory rejects the discourse of redemption in favor of restitution.

In its consideration of Sebald's place in twentieth-century literature and after, Kilbourn's book engages with such predecessors as Nabokov, Kafka, Conrad, and Beckett, concluding with comparisons with contemporaries Claudio Magris and Alice Munro.
About the Author

RUSSELL J. A. KILBOURN is an associate professor of English and film studies at Wilfrid Laurier University in Ontario, Canada. He is the author of Cinema, Memory, Modernity: The Representation of Memory from the Art Film to Transnational Cinema.

"This is a dazzlingly written book of exceptional intellectual range and great academic integrity, with beautiful insights into Sebald on almost every page. W. G. Sebald's Postsecular Redemption will be one of the most important and eagerly awaited publications on Sebald in years." —Helen Finch, author of Sebald's Bachelors: Queer Resistance and the Unconforming Life