The Rings of Saturn
New Directions Publishing, 1998 - 296 pages
"Ostensiblya record of a journey on foot through coastal East Anglia," asRobert McCrum in the London Observer noted, The Rings ofSaturn "is also a brilliantly allusive study of England'simperial past and the nature of decline and fall, of loss and decay.. . . The Rings of Saturn is exhilaratingly, you might sayhypnotically, readable. . . . It is hard to imagine a stranger or morecompelling work." The Rings of Saturn - with its curiousarchive of photographs - chronicles a tour across epochs as well ascountryside. On his way, the narrator meets lonely eccentrics inhabitingtumble-down mansions and links them to Rembrandt's "Anatomy Lesson,"the natural history of the herring, a matchstick model of the Templeof Jerusalem, the travels of Sir Thomas Browne's skull, and the massivebombings of WWII. Cataloging change, oblivion, and memories, he connectssugar fortunes, Joseph Conrad, and the horrors of colonizing the BelgianCongo. The narrator finds threads which run from an abandoned bridgeover the River Blyth to the terrible dowager Empress Tzu Hsi and thesilk industry in Norwich. "Sebald," as The New Yorkerstated, "weaves his tale together with a complexity and historicalsweep that easily encompasses both truth and fiction." TheEmigrants (hailed by Susan Sontag as an "astonishing masterpiece-perfectwhile being unlike any book one has ever read") was "one ofthe great books of the last few years," as Michael Ondaatje noted:"and now The Rings of Saturn is a similar and as strangea triumph."