Trip to an English tomb | Culture

Trip to an English tomb | Culture

The Ditchingham Cemetery was almost the last station of my pilgrimage through Suffolk County … " At this point I stopped yesterday my reading of The rings of Saturn, of W. G. Sebald, just when I was most immersed in the taciturn atmosphere of this writer, a good reader of inscriptions engraved on the funerary monuments of Suffolk County, on the east coast of England. I had been rereading the book to try to find out why it had attracted me so much two decades before, but the spell of its prose had been repeated in me in an identical way, and had once again verified that, in the company of the German Sebald, the real mystery of the world, as the Irish Wilde pointed out, was not the invisible, but the visible: what we took for known and in fact, was strange.

So I closed the book in the ninth and penultimate chapters, and went to dinner. And since I had closed my investigation and did not intend to return to it, the least I imagined was that this morning I would return to the melancholy Suffolk County, and I would do so, not through Sebald, but through Known and strange things, compilation of Teju Cole articles that I leafed through first thing, going to the text Always back, whose first sentence could have seemed inconsequential if it had not been because it sounded familiar, first, and then strange: "One morning last June I escaped from a conference I was going to attend in Norwich, England, and asked for a taxi to go to field".

Norwich? It was already very curious. In one of his hospitals, W. G. Sebald had begun to think and write The rings of Saturn. And in that same city, 20 years later, Jorge Carrión from Matanzas had gone through all his bookstores to see how they valued Sebald having lived three decades among them. And in Open city the New York writer and photographer of Nigerian origin Teju Cole had not given ample evidence of being a passer-by of Hazlitt, Walser and Sebald?

I did not hesitate to ask myself if that first phrase and Cole's attitude of asking for a taxi-an urban gesture that seemed to propose a trip to the countryside and a profound return to the past-would not be the beginning of a Sebaldian story. And immediately I saw that he was not misguided and that, as a reader, he was traveling in the same direction that Cole had given the taxi driver: the church of Saint Andrews, with its cemetery of Gothic tombs in which W. G. Sebald was buried.

And while I was still reading and traveling with Cole and his taxi driver (character with a melancholic air), I had the impression that when I arrived in Saint Andrews, I myself surrounded the old church with its circular tower and came to a tombstone. of dark marble in the shade of a bush, and told the taxi driver that the man who was in that grave had never wanted the past to fall into oblivion and, in my opinion, would go better if we let ourselves be accompanied by all the memory of the world, especially that of its small unimportant stories.


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