What, I asked myself, said Austerlitz, might be the significance of the river never rising from any source, never flowing out into any sea but always back into itself, what was the meaning of veverka, the squirrel forever perched in the same position, or of the ivory-coloured porcelain group of a hero on horseback turning to look back, as his steed rears up on its hindquarters, in order to raise up with his outstretched arm an innocent girl already bereft of her last hope, and to save her from a cruel fate not revealed to the observer? They were all as timeless as that moment of rescue, perpetuated but for ever just occurring, these ornaments, utensils and mementoes stranded in the Terezín bazaar, objects that for reasons one could never know had outlived their former owners and survived the process of destruction, so that I could now see my own faint shadow image barely perceptible among them.

Was, so fragte ich mich, sagte Austerlitz, mochte es auf sich haben mit dem nirgends entspringenden, nirgends einmündenden, ständig in sich selbst zurückfließenden Strom, mit veverka, dem stets in der gleichen Pose ausharrenden Eichhörnchen, oder mit der elfenbeinfarbenen Porzellankomposition, die einen reitenden Helden darstellte, der sich erhebenden Roß nach rückwärts wendet, um mit dem linken Arm ein unschuldiges, von der letzten Hoffnung verlassenes weibliches Wesen zu sich emporzuziehen und aus einem dem Beschauer nicht offenbarten, aber ohne Zweifel grauenvollen Unglück zu retten. So zeitlos wie dieser verewigte, immer gerade jetzt sich ereignende Augenblick der Errettung waren sie alle, die in dem Bazar von Terezín gestrandeten Zierstücke, Gerätschaften und Andenken, die aufgrund unerforschlicher Zusammenhänge ihre ehemaligen Besitzer überlebt und den Prozeß der Zerstörung überdauert hatten, so daß ich nun zwischen ihnen schwach und kaum kenntlich mein eigenes Schattenbild wahrnehmen konnte.


Blogger wowsignal said...

Just found this blog - brilliant stuff. Am heading to Norfolk in a couple of weeks for a Sebald inspired few days. Any tips?
Also i listened to Sebald interviewed on the net a couple of years ago. I didn't record it and the link is now dead. Any ideas?

12:04 pm  
Blogger wowsignal said...

oops the audio link is on the wikipedia page.

12:08 pm  
Blogger kerstin svea said...

This is the blog I was looking for, not knowing it. I love that the texts are both in English and German. Reading those quotes gives me inspiration!

11:22 pm  
Blogger cut that mustard said...

Thanks for your comments - wonderful. The blog had a natural end point once my perambulations round Europe had more or less covered all the spots described by Austerlitz and his author. I was lucky enough to be able to exhibit the blog as a series of posters at the Sebald tribute conference at the University of East Anglia in September 2008. Any tips? Walking rules!

11:54 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey, I am going to write an essay about this book and was wondering if you could help me understand it more...

8:23 pm  
Blogger Ana V. said...

Unforgettable paragraph.

12:28 am  
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