Ghostwriting provides the first comprehensive analysis of the fictional prose narratives of one of contemporary Germany's most recognized authors, the emigre writer W. G. Sebald. Examining Sebald's well-known published texts in the context of largely unknown unpublished works, and informed by documents and information from Sebald's literary estate, this book offers a detailed portrait of his characteristic literary techniques and how they emerged and matured out of the practices and attitudes he represented in his profession as a literary scholar. The title Ghostwriting signals the convergence in Sebald's works of a set of diverse historical questions, philosophical views, and literary practices. Many historical ghosts haunt Sebald's narratives on the level of story. Moreover, Sebald's narrator plays the role of a ghostwriter in the profound sense that his stories fictionally re-enact the histories of obscure, but once-living individuals whose lives they revitalize, and whose fates are tied up with the most virulent historical conjunctures of the modern world. This study thus seeks to comprehend the constitutive elements of Sebald's poetics of history, his implementation of literary tools for effective historical memorializing.
Richard T. Gray is a remarkable reader of W. G. Sebald. Meticulous in his attention to detail as well as learned in understanding of the broader contexts, he teaches us new ways to think about this enigmatic writer. * Carol Jacobs, Birgit Baldwin Professor of Comparative Literature and Professor of German, Yale University, USA * Ghostwriting is well-written, informative, and wonderfully insightful. With a lucid and evocative style, Richard T. Gray presents exciting revelations about new archival materials: Sebald's marginalia from his library and his partially unpublished manuscript about pending ecological disaster in Corsica (and the world). This book poses the question that all Sebald readers have asked at some point: In what direction might Sebald's writing have gone if he had not died at age fifty-seven? Gray investigates whether Sebald might have returned to the eco-psychological style of the Corsica piece, as a ghostwriter for nature. Especially welcome is the wide-ranging learnedness, which Gray wears lightly, that makes Ghostwriting not just about Sebald but about modern Western literature and thought. This is an excellent, strong, authoritative book-the first to treat Sebald with the care that such a great writer deserves. * John Zilcosky, Professor of German and Comparative Literature, University of Toronto, Canada *