To mark the 10th anniversary of German writer and literary scholar W.G.Sebald’s untimely death in 2001, Uwe Schütte, Reader in German here at Aston University and former student of Sebald’s, reflects on his life and work in British academia in the latest edition of Times Higher Education.
“I taught for almost 30 years until I took early retirement in 1991,” explains Austerlitz, the eponymous hero of W.G. Sebald’s last work of prose fiction, “because of the inexorable spread of ignorance even to the universities.” One would not be mistaken to see this criticism as also coming straight from the heart of the writer who created Austerlitz. After all, apart from being considered a strong contender for the Nobel Prize for Literature, Sebald was first and foremost an academic who had spent all his professional life in UK higher education.
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