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History, Narrative, and Photography in W. G. Sebald's Die Ausgewanderten

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Abstract:



The function of photography in W. G. Sebald's Die Ausgewanderten goes beyond the merely illustrative. The photographs that are handed down to the narrator in the course of his researches are read in terms of postmemory and the affiliative gaze, both of which allow the narrator to suture himself into the biographies of the four emigrants. Photographs taken by the narrator, on the other hand, are read in terms of reflexive reference: images refer to other images within the text, constituting a pictorial metaphor of the overall textual thematics. In both cases, photographs enable the narrator to construct a sense of continuity and permanence in the face of historical trauma and loss.

Keywords: Photography; W. G. Sebald's Die Ausgewanderten; affiliative gaze; postmemory; trauma

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: University of Durham

Publication date: January 1, 2003

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