This chapter explores Sebald’s ‘problematic’ work, Austerlitz, focusing on its central themes of transience, threat and death. It explores the book’s foundations – two real biographies of racial persecution – and Sebald’s aversion to it being categorised as a ‘novel’. Schütte argues that the work raises the question of how (or how not) to use empathy to describe unimaginable suffering, using the narrator’s precarious exploration of the Holocaust as an example.
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