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Zeitschrift für interkulturelle Germanistik

Ed. by Heimböckel, Dieter / Hess-Lüttich, Ernest W.B. / Mein, Georg / Sieburg, Heinz

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Austerlitz im Wartesaal

Gunther Pakendorf
Published Online: 2016-12-24 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.14361/zig-2016-0204


The condition of exile and homelessness is one of the recurrent features of W.G. Sebald’s work. This can be seen paradigmatically in the lives narrated in Die Ausgewanderten (The Emigrants). Sebald portrays the history of the West repeatedly as a gradual and relentless decline through various catastrophes towards ultimate destruction. A persuasive metaphor for this perceived human condition of uprootedness and instability is the situation of people in transit in waiting rooms in airports and railway stations. This is best exemplified by the eponymous main character in Sebald’s last novel, Austerlitz, a work in which stations and waiting rooms in Brussels, London, Paris, Prague and other cities are a recurring locus. They are linked symbolically through a network of inter- and intratextual references and associations to Sebald’s major thematic concerns: the Holocaust, the destruction of the natural world and, ultimately, the end of all time.

Keywords: Sebald; W.G. (1944-2001); exile; dislocation; transitory space; railway waiting room

About the article

Published Online: 2016-12-24

Published in Print: 2016-07-01

Citation Information: Zeitschrift für interkulturelle Germanistik, Volume 7, Issue 2, Pages 21–34, ISSN (Online) 2198-0330, DOI: https://doi.org/10.14361/zig-2016-0204.

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© 2016 by transcript Verlag.

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