Architecture and memory in W. G. Sebald's Austerlitz

Stead, Naomi (2015) Architecture and memory in W. G. Sebald's Austerlitz. Architectural Research Quarterly, 19 1: 41-48. doi:10.1017/S1359135515000263

Author Stead, Naomi
Title Architecture and memory in W. G. Sebald's Austerlitz
Formatted title
Architecture and memory in W. G. Sebald's Austerlitz
Journal name Architectural Research Quarterly   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 1474-0516
Publication date 2015-03
Sub-type Critical review of research, literature review, critical commentary
DOI 10.1017/S1359135515000263
Open Access Status
Volume 19
Issue 1
Start page 41
End page 48
Total pages 8
Place of publication Cambridge, United Kingdom
Publisher Cambridge University Press
Collection year 2016
Language eng
Formatted abstract
Austerlitz was the German expatriate author W. G. Sebald’s last book before his untimely death in 2001. Greeted with great critical acclaim, the novel is a profound meditation on history, memory, and loss. Sebald’s larger attempt to represent and memorialise the lasting trauma of the Holocaust, in an oblique and understated rather than a literal way, led him to a new kind of literary expression described by Eric Homberger as ‘part hybrid novel, part memoir and part travelogue’. What is most interesting about Austerlitz, for the purposes of this article, is that it makes so much use of architecture. In this, it joins a tradition of literary works that treat architecture as a metaphor for human endeavour and artifice, social structures, and attempts to order and construct the world. But, there is more to the buildings in Austerlitz. The book offers insights into the larger meaning – often, but not always, melancholy – of architecture in culture and society, past and present. This is elucidated at a personal level, in the way that surroundings and spatial atmospheres can affect the emotional life of an individual, and also at a collective level, in the way that buildings bear witness to, and last beyond, the trials and duration of a single human life.
Keyword Austerlitz
Sebald, W. G. (1944-2001)
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Confirmed Code
Institutional Status UQ

Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Critical review of research, literature review, critical commentary
Collections: ATCH (Architecture Theory History Criticism) Publications
Official 2016 Collection
School of Architecture Publications
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