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W. G. Sebald's revisions of Roland Barthes

W. G. Sebald's revisions of Roland Barthes
W. G. Sebald's revisions of Roland Barthes
W. G. Sebald’s work has frequently been compared to that of Roland Barthes; James Wood is typical in speculating that Austerlitz is ‘in deep dialogue’ with Camera Lucida. Evidence from Sebald’s archive both supports and complicates such claims. Sebald first read Barthes in the early 1990s, engaging with him in his art criticism, yet Sebald’s compositional practice in The Emigrants, which involved erasing an image’s indexical relationship to its referent, shows a rejection of the central ontological claim of Camera Lucida. Sebald returned to Barthes in the late 1990s while composing Austerlitz and revised the draft manuscript so that the published version directly references Sebald’s reading of Camera Lucida. Through an extended engagement with Barthes, Sebald contested the indexical nature of photography in order to reflect upon the desires that led to the figuration of trauma and history as an indexical trace at the end of the twentieth century.
0950-236X
567-584
Brazil, Kevin
36fb33dd-0bba-43b7-a885-775ed8acfcda
Brazil, Kevin
36fb33dd-0bba-43b7-a885-775ed8acfcda

Brazil, Kevin (2019) W. G. Sebald's revisions of Roland Barthes. Textual Practice, 33 (4), 567-584. (doi:10.1080/0950236X.2017.1308961).

Record type: Article

Abstract

W. G. Sebald’s work has frequently been compared to that of Roland Barthes; James Wood is typical in speculating that Austerlitz is ‘in deep dialogue’ with Camera Lucida. Evidence from Sebald’s archive both supports and complicates such claims. Sebald first read Barthes in the early 1990s, engaging with him in his art criticism, yet Sebald’s compositional practice in The Emigrants, which involved erasing an image’s indexical relationship to its referent, shows a rejection of the central ontological claim of Camera Lucida. Sebald returned to Barthes in the late 1990s while composing Austerlitz and revised the draft manuscript so that the published version directly references Sebald’s reading of Camera Lucida. Through an extended engagement with Barthes, Sebald contested the indexical nature of photography in order to reflect upon the desires that led to the figuration of trauma and history as an indexical trace at the end of the twentieth century.

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More information

Accepted/In Press date: 20 October 2016
e-pub ahead of print date: 23 May 2017
Published date: 2019
Organisations: English

Identifiers

Local EPrints ID: 397722
URI: https://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/397722
ISSN: 0950-236X
PURE UUID: 366c0943-5d68-44d8-8324-35ecbc350873

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Date deposited: 05 Jul 2016 09:53
Last modified: 22 Aug 2019 04:01

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