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A masterwork of W. G. Sebald, now with a gorgeous new cover by the famed designer Peter Mendelsund The four long narratives in The Emigrants appear at first to be the straightforward biographies of four Germans in exile. Sebald reconstructs the lives of a painter, a doctor, an elementary-school teacher, and Great Uncle Ambrose. Following (literally) in their footsteps, the narrator retraces routes of exile which lead from Lithuania to London, from Munich to Manchester, from the South German provinces to Switzerland, France, New York, Constantinople, and Jerusalem. Along with memories, documents, and diaries of the Holocaust, he collects photographs—the enigmatic snapshots which stud The Emigrants and bring to mind family photo albums. Sebald combines precise documentary with fictional motifs, and as he puts the question to realism, the four stories merge into one unfathomable requiem.
Austerlitz, the internationally acclaimed masterpiece by “one of the most gripping writers imaginable” (The New York Review of Books), is the story of a man’s search for the answer to his life’s central riddle. A small child when he comes to England on a Kindertransport in the summer of 1939, one Jacques Austerlitz is told nothing of his real family by the Welsh Methodist minister and his wife who raise him. When he is a much older man, fleeting memories return to him, and obeying an instinct he only dimly understands, he follows their trail back to the world he left behind a half century before. There, faced with the void at the heart of twentieth-century Europe, he struggles to rescue his heritage from oblivion.
"The book is like a dream you want to last forever" (Roberta Silman, The New York Times Book Review), now with a gorgeous new cover by the famed designer Peter Mendelsund The Rings of Saturn—with its curious archive of photographs—records a walking tour of the eastern coast of England. A few of the things which cross the path and mind of its narrator (who both is and is not Sebald) are lonely eccentrics, Sir Thomas Browne’s skull, a matchstick model of the Temple of Jerusalem, recession-hit seaside towns, wooded hills, Joseph Conrad, Rembrandt’s "Anatomy Lesson," the natural history of the herring, the massive bombings of WWII, the dowager Empress Tzu Hsi, and the silk industry in Norwich. W.G. Sebald’s The Emigrants (New Directions, 1996) was hailed by Susan Sontag as an "astonishing masterpiece perfect while being unlike any book one has ever read." It was "one of the great books of the last few years," noted Michael Ondaatje, who now acclaims The Rings of Saturn "an even more inventive work than its predecessor, The Emigrants."
Against Nature by Joris-Karl Huysmans is a novel in which very little happens; its narrative concentrates almost entirely on its principal character, and is mostly a catalogue of the tastes and inner life of Jean Des Esseintes, an eccentric, reclusive aesthete and antihero, who loathes 19th century bourgeois society and tries to retreat into an ideal artistic world of his own creation. Against Nature contains many themes which became associated with the Symbolist aesthetic. In doing so, it broke from naturalism and became the ultimate example of decadent literature. Jean Des Esseintes is the last member of a powerful and once proud noble family. He has lived an extremely decadent life in Paris which has left him disgusted with human society. Without telling anyone, he absconds to a house in the countryside. He fills the house with his eclectic art collection and decides to spend the rest of his life in intellectual and aesthetic contemplation. Throughout his intellectual experiments, he recalls various debauched events and love affairs of his past in Paris.
One of the most influential volumes of poetry of the nineteenth century, Charles Baudelaire's The Flowers of Evil caused a sensation when it was originally published, even earning Baudelaire a fine when he was charged with "insulting public decency." With strong themes of debauchery, decadence, hedonism and sensuality, these intoxicating verses will etch themselves in your memory.