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Title: W.G. Sebalds babylonische Bibliothek. Kritik an einem heterotopischen Raum der Moderne
Authors: Zimmermann, Elias
Issue Date: 2012
Publisher: EUT Edizioni Università di Trieste
Source: Elias Zimmermann, "W.G. Sebalds babylonische Bibliothek. Kritik an einem heterotopischen Raum der Moderne", in: Prospero. Rivista di Letterature e Culture straniere, XVII (2012), pp. 177-201.
Series/Report no.: Prospero. Rivista di letterature e culture straniere
XVII (2012)
W.G. Sebald’s description of the French Bibliothèque National as a “Babylonian
library” in his last book Austerlitz displays a deep cultural pessimism
that is comparable to Franz Kafka’s tower-of-Babel-parable "Das
Stadtwappen". In both texts, acts of hubris lead to society’s self-destruction.
Therein, we can analyze a transformation of myth into a critical
approach to the modern era; an approach that has been theoretically substantiated
by Walter Benjamin and Theodor W. Adorno, whose texts were
well known to Sebald. The space that is examined in this essay is recognisable
as a modern heterotopia, although Michel Foucault’s more positive
concept is contaminated by Elias Canetti’s notion of deathly architecture.
The multiple subtexts that are evoked by Sebald point to his own idea of
“melancholic resistance”. Instead of a sincere resistance, however, the text
builds an oversimplified and fatalistic critique of modernism by invoking
various pictures of decay.
Type: Article
ISSN: 1123-2684
Appears in Collections:2012 / 17 Prospero. Rivista di letterature e culture straniere

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