Reading guide for Austerlitz by W.G. Sebald

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reading Guide |  Reviews |  Readalikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

Austerlitz

by W.G. Sebald

Austerlitz by W.G. Sebald X
Austerlitz by W.G. Sebald
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

  • First Published:
    Oct 2001, 300 pages
    Paperback:
    Sep 2002, 304 pages

  • Rate this book


Buy This Book

About this Book

Reading Guide Questions Print Excerpt

Please be aware that this discussion guide may contain spoilers!

  1. In what ways can Sebald's work be said to create a new genre? Do we know whether to take Austerlitz as fact or fiction?

     
  2. Why do you suppose Sebald incorporates photographs into his work? To what effect?

     
  3. Where does the name Jacques Austerlitz come from? Why do you think Sebald chose it?

     
  4. What is the relationship between past and present throughout the book? What tricks does Sebald play with the passage of time? What does Austerlitz have to say on his experience of time?

     
  5. What sort of mood does Sebald's use of language create throughout the novel? How does Sebald's language function in the same way that character and plot do in a more traditional novel?

     
  6. Some critics have called attention to Sebald's wan sense of humor–a "low-key gallows humor." What examples of this humor can you find in the book?

     
  7. What type of architecture most appeals to Austerlitz? What do you make of this fascination?

     
  8. Various animals appear throughout the novel. What does the novel make of the relationships between humans and other creatures, and between all animals–humans included–and their environment? How do animals in the novel orient themselves, and what does it mean, throughout, to become literally dis-oriented?

     
  9. What does the novel have to say about the mind's defenses against great trauma?

     
  10. At the novel's end, Austerlitz tells the narrator of a Jewish cemetery located just behind his house in London, behind a wall, whose existence he'd only discovered during his last days in the city. How does the discovery of the cemetery replicate Austerlitz's discovery of his heritage, and what does this link suggest about the connection between physical artifacts and the workings of memory? In what way could it be said that this cemetery's presence in the novel honors the durability of the world of European Jewry that Nazi Germany attempted to expunge?


Book Club Report

Unless otherwise stated, this discussion guide is reprinted with the permission of Modern Library. Any page references refer to a USA edition of the book, usually the trade paperback version, and may vary in other editions.

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Award Winners

  • Book Jacket: Educated
    Educated
    by Tara Westover
    Voted 2018 Best Nonfiction Award Winner by BookBrowse Subscribers

    Tara Westover had the kind of ...
  • Book Jacket: Circe
    Circe
    by Madeline Miller
    Voted 2018 Best Fiction Award Winner by BookBrowse Subscribers

    Towards the end of Madeline Miller...
  • Book Jacket: Children of Blood and Bone
    Children of Blood and Bone
    by Tomi Adeyemi
    Voted 2018 Best Young Adult Award Winner by BookBrowse Subscribers

    What would you do if, in a ...
  • Book Jacket: Where the Crawdads Sing
    Where the Crawdads Sing
    by Delia Owens
    Voted 2018 Best Debut Novel Award Winner by BookBrowse Subscribers

    Where the Crawdads Sing was a ...

See all Award Winners & Top 20

Book Discussion
Book Jacket
The Removes
by Tatjana Soli

A powerful, transporting novel about the addictive intensity and freedom of the American frontier.

About the book
Join the discussion!

Readers Recommend

  • Book Jacket

    The Kinship of Secrets
    by Eugenia Kim

    Two sisters grow up bound by family but separated by war; inspired by a true story.
    Reader Reviews

Win this book!
Win The 7 ½ Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle

The 7 ½ Deaths of
Evelyn Hardcastle

"Agatha Christie meets Groundhog Day...quite unlike anything I've ever read." - A. J. Finn

Enter

Word Play

The Big Holiday Wordplay: $400+ in Prizes

Enter Now

Books that     
entertain,
     engage

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends books that we believe to be best in class. Books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, that will expand your mind and challenge you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.