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The adventurous travels of a disobedient reader : a reading practice for the fiction of W.G. Sebald

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Blackler, Deane Pamela Ann (2005) The adventurous travels of a disobedient reader : a reading practice for the fiction of W.G. Sebald. PhD thesis, University of Tasmania.

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Abstract

This thesis traces an exploratory reading itinerary whose destination
is a way of engaging with the prose fiction of W.G. Sebald (1944-2001).
It reflects on the obedient reader as one who travels a straight path
shepherded by the rhetoric of authority in a textual journey and
considers the alternative paths of disobedience offered by Sebald's
invitation to adventure in his four works of fiction.
The appearance of a new writer of substance at the end of the
twentieth century aroused considerable interest, not least because his
fiction, written originally in German, announced a reception dilemma.
The essence of this problematic lies in the destabilisation of the reader
with the consequence that Sebald's fiction constructs what this thesis
calls a disobedient reader.
Made uncertain of the road ahead, this disobedient reader cannot
surrender to the comfort of knowing that the journey has been
mapped out for her in a way that enables her to trust the text. She
must be ever on the alert, watchful for the unexpected and the
unreliable by reading with a close attentiveness. This signals both her
own capacity for disobedience and her preparedness to assume
collaborative responsibility for the textual imaginary. Consequently
this disobedient reader emerges as one who, from time to time, takes
matters into her own hands, setting off on side-trips away from the
decentred narrative authority of the Sebaldian text, expanding the
reading itinerary in ways which cannot be contained by the journeys
offered in each of the texts.
The thesis identifies three facets of Sebald's practice which are
deployed in the construction of a disobedient reader. These are his
employment of a seemingly autobiographical narrator; his insertion of
photographs into his prose; his drawing on a precisely indexed sense
of place only to subvert it by constructing it as a textual space.
According to the parameters of these domains the thesis considers the
journey that each text offers to the reader by bringing to bear a
watchful scrutiny which preserves the reader's interrogative and
contestatory position free from the authority of the text. Finally I reflect on the notion that encouraging the reader's capacity
for disobedience, affording contemplative and imaginative freedom, is
part of Sebald's legacy to literature, offering the possibility of
continuing travel into the unknown by means of a collaborative
textual imaginary free of the discursive authority of any single voice.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Keywords: Sebald, Winfried Georg, 1944-2001
Copyright Holders: The Author
Additional Information:

No access until 20th April 2007. Thesis (Ph.D.)--University of Tasmania, 2005. Includes bibliographical references (leaves 344-356)

Date Deposited: 25 Nov 2014 00:54
Last Modified: 11 Mar 2016 05:54
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