One Last Sharing of Present Reading

I have longed to read the work of W.G. Sebald, but honestly Austerlitz was too stern, too strong a beginning. For a variety of reasons, I could not start there and have cast about since for some way to begin readily available to me from the library resources.  Between the two counties, they do not have much, but I found and embraced the book excerpted below, and hope that what has sustained me through the beginning can entrance me through to the end.

from After Nature
W.G. Sebald

Here two painters in one body
whose hurt flesh belong to both
to the end pursued the study
of their own nature. At first
Nithart fashioned his self-portrait
from a mirror image, and Grünewald
with great love, precision and patience
and an interest in the skin
and hair of his companion extending
to the blue shadow of the beard
then overpainted it.
The martyrdom depicted is
the representation, to be sensed
even in the rims of the wounds,
of a male friendship wavering
between horror and loyalty.
It is conceivable that Nithart
who was also a maker of water displays,
in later years furthered
his mistaking of his person for
the increasingly unsociable Isenheim master,
that perhaps he was the connecting link
between Grünewald and the world become
inaccessible to him in his misfortune.

That this should be so simple and so luminous even in translation is a tribute to the translator and to the original.


  1. Steven - Do begin reading Sebald with The Rings of Saturn. It a less austere introduction to this first-rate writer.


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