27 October 2011

Max's maxims

It’s always gratifying to learn something when one reads fiction. Dickens introduced it. The essay invaded the novel. But we should not perhaps trust ‘facts’ in fiction. It is, after all, an illusion.

It’s good to have undeclared, unrecognized pathologies and mental illnesses in your stories. The countryside is full of undeclared pathologies. Unlike in the urban setting, there, mental affliction goes unrecognized.

There has to be a libidinous delight in finding things and stuffing them in your pockets.

The collected maxims of W. G. Sebald can be found in the fifth issue of Five Dials, a magazine of his UK publisher Hamish Hamilton. The issue (at this link, in pdf) was mostly dedicated to Max. There's an "A to Z" guide on him where one reads, for instance, under "X":

Coincidence, the point where paths cross, is at the heart of Max’s writing – and the X at the end of his name always seemed emblematic to me. When I asked him once about the role of coincidence he said that whatever path he took in his writing he always, sooner or later, came across another path which led quickly back to some detail from his own life. He also said that the more one was attuned to look out for such things, the more frequently they occurred.

Five Dials is a recommended online literary resource. You can subscribe to the magazine here.

(via Vertigo)

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