The Rings of Saturn — with its curious archive of photographs — records a walking tour of the eastern coast of England. A few of the things which cross the path and mind of its narrator (who both is and is not Sebald) are lonely eccentrics, Sir Thomas Browne's skull, a matchstick model of the Temple of Jerusalem, recession-hit seaside towns, wooded hills, Joseph Conrad, Rembrandt's "Anatomy Lesson," the natural history of the herring, the massive bombings of WWII, the dowager Empress Tzu Hsi, and the silk industry in Norwich. W.G. Sebald's The Emigrants (New Directions, 1996) was hailed by Susan Sontag as an "astonishing masterpiece perfect while being unlike any book one has ever read." It was "one of the great books of the last few years," noted Michael Ondaatje, who now acclaims The Rings of Saturn "an even more inventive work than its predecessor, The Emigrants."
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