Sebald’s Bachelors

So here’s the official announcement: my monograph on queer masculinities in Sebald (the monograph formerly known as A Madness Most Discreet) will be published later this year by Legenda as Sebald’s Bachelors: Queer Resistance and the Unconforming Lifeas no. 2 in their new Germanic Literatures series. Just to prove it’s true: look, here’s the cover!Image

Today, I’ve just finished going through the first proofs, and am alternately thrilled and terrified at the thoughts of my fanciful theories about queer resistance, lines of escape, homoerotic Orientalism and the camp style of the Sebaldian bachelor reaching a wider audience. Producing the book with Legenda has been an enormously rewarding experience, from the extremely rigorous and constructive reader’s report to the precise process of copyediting, to say nothing of swiftly re-teaching myself enough French to carry out a correspondence about copyright and image quality with a French museum! My seventeen-year-old self would be delighted that I actually wrote an email asking someone to accept the expression of my most distinguished sentiments.

A finished and printed book gives the illusion of completeness, and yet my ideas about Sebald and his queer bachelors seem so far from complete, and keep roving on. In a very Sebaldian fashion, I find I’m mourning the book that I’m about to abandon to its readers, and hope very much that I’ll have the time to go travelling in different directions with the ‘Sebaldian queer’ in future. In the meantime, my piles of Sebald books are being bagged up ready to return to the library… and Sebald’s Bachelors is ready for you to pre-order online. The writing is over, but I very much hope a conversation is about to begin!

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2 thoughts on “Sebald’s Bachelors

  1. You know what is serendipitous, Helen:i am doing a seminar on camp in many of its manifestations(including in literary manifestations); yesterday, it just crossed my mind, glancingly, was there something camp about the sebladian narrators’ style?I mean in the sense of “parlous loftiness”, I.e parlous = as in “extremely” and as in “dangerous, precarious” too; and loftiness being exhibited in the grandiloquent, yet, strangely (concomitantly), with a sense of an aporia, understated, periphrastic style; so i am sort of sensing camp(and, to me, camp is a SENSE one gets that something is camp as much as a rational explication)in the narratorial style which is both grand AND bathetic(an obvious example being the entombed fish in the bed and breakfast at Lowestoft in “ROS”, told in this beautifully ponderous yet humorous style). Of course, the style is also often deeply serious (to match the nature of the subject matter), but the means (grand style doesn’t match the ends), as in the fish episode; that would equate, to me(and Sontag!), with the camp of a vamping Bellini accompaniment, being the technical means to go with the cabaletta part of an aria about tragedy(the content), but here , of course, in Sebald, it is reverse: the tragedy is in the STYLE not the content. I am only getting a vague sense at the moment, but i am so excited you are drawing all these queer threads( as in homosocial, homoerotic, same-sex-love and queer in its wider sense of disruption of the status quo and quirkiness and resistance) all together; don’t be terrified lol; there is MUCH, OVERT textual evidence!And its about time it was pointed out; else we pay a GRAVE disservice to Sebald’s memory. Thanks. Steven Benson(NOT Stephen Benson at UEA !:))

  2. Pingback: Vertiginous Links for March 2013 | Vertigo

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