Patience (After Sebald)

This modest, immensely enjoyable documentary is about one of my favourite books, ‘The Rings of Saturn’ by the German poet and critic W G Sebald, who was born in 1944, taught for much of his adult life in this country, mainly at the University of East Anglia, and was killed in a motor accident in 2001. It was first published in German in 1995, translated into English three years later and is an account of a walking tour of Suffolk, the people he meets, the places he visits, and the historical and literary reflections prompted by what he sees and senses, taking his mind around the world. Suffolk becomes a sort of palimpsest for his eloquent, precise, lugubrious, often drily witty meditations about war, death, destruction and decay, about memories and continuities and the feeling that nothing entirely disappears.

Grant Gee’s film should make anyone want to read ‘The Rings of Saturn’ and the rest of Sebald’s relatively small but exquisite oeuvre, some eight or nine books in all.

Philip French

Frames of reference

Patience (After Sebald)

This modest, immensely enjoyable documentary is about one of my favourite books, The Rings of Saturn by the German poet and critic WG Sebald, who was born in 1944, taught for much of his adult life in this country, mainly at the University of East Anglia, and was killed in a motor accident in 2001. It was first published in German in 1995, translated into English three years later and is an account of a walking tour of Suffolk, the people he meets, the places he visits, and the historical and literary reflections prompted by what he sees and senses, taking his mind around the world. Suffolk becomes a sort of palimpsest for his eloquent, precise, lugubrious, often drily witty meditations about war, death, destruction and decay, about memories and continuities and the feeling that nothing entirely disappears. Continue reading “Patience (After Sebald)”

Frames of reference

Two Days In Epping Forest

I suppose that’s a bit of an exaggeration, we didn’t stay overnight, but it sounds better than two visits or two day trips to Epping Forest. The first was a week after Easter, on St George’s Day, inspired by blogposts and tweets about holloways, I wondered what’s the closest thing to a holloway in Epping Forest? And so we went up to Jack’s Hill and walked to the western edge of Ambresbury Banks. Continue reading “Two Days In Epping Forest”

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Unknown Countries

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I’d not been to Hastings before. Strange to admit, especially since I lived in Maidstone for three years just 30 miles away, though that was over 40 years ago. Hastings was where John Martyn lived but, as much as I loved his music, we always by-passed the town on our way home from Brighton. Continue reading “Unknown Countries”

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Around Shoreham

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I’d often wondered about Shoreham. It’s famous as the inspiration for many of Samuel Palmer’s bucolic paintings, but on the map it’s surrounded by motorways, an edgeland bordered by the M20, the M25 and the M26. I suppose I’d worried that it’s spell must have been broken. But then after a recent visit to Ankerwycke, also on the rim of the M25, I realised that magic can persist. Continue reading “Around Shoreham”

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A River Sutra

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I was looking on the bookshelves for a book that wasn’t there. I searched high and low only to find it had disappeared, but as I searched I was distracted by an old favourite. I took A River Sutra from the shelf and briefly considered immersing myself in its healing waters, but I went on looking. Next I saw Minnow On The Say and then it just happened, wherever I looked there were more tributaries, and so I stitched together a river of waterborne books. Continue reading “A River Sutra”

Frames of reference