Sebald's "Vertigo": The Odyssey Without a Homecoming Book Review by Hikaru Myuki

Sebald's "Vertigo": The Odyssey Without a Homecoming
An analysis of W.G. Sebald's novel "Vertigo."
# 109003 | 1,564 words | 0 sources | 2008 | US
Published on Nov 11, 2008 in Literature (German) , Literature (General)

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This paper discusses the novel "Vertigo" by the German writer W.G. Sebald. The author argues that the use of seafaring imagery in the "All'Estero" chapter shows that Sebald's narrator's journey across Europe intentionally parallels Odysseus' journey across the Aegean Sea. Unlike Odysseus, however, Sebald's narrator does not achieve a true homecoming, in the sense that on his return home he does not feel a connection that stabilizes himself, and he realizes that he will always feel a perpetual homelessness. The writer discusses the novel's themes of death and dissolution, disconnection with the world and disorientation, and further points out an intertextual connection between "Vertigo" and Dante's Inferno.

From the Paper:

"Homecoming is a means to come to the catharsis that alienation will never abate and that Sebald will never attain a rooted sense of self amidst the chaos of the world. Order in life indicates a linear movement from one point of time to another. Sebald's narrative does not follow a linear movement from one point in time to another. Rather, Vertigo is a narrative that combines memory and history in a way that flows without the constructs of a linear time frame. The interweaving of historical figures and Sebald's narrator's own memories, all set against the reality of post-war Europe, gives the novel its tone of disillusionment."

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