Speak, Silence

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Organised by:

The Society of Analytical Psychology

28 January 2023

Time: 10:00 - 12:30

Price: £15-£30

Location: online


W G Sebald (1944-2001) was one of the most important writers of the last century. His last book, Austerlitz, has been on every list of the 100 Best Novels of the 20th century since it was published in 2001.

Carole Angier’s biography Speak, Silence explores how this member of Germany’s ‘second generation’, the son of a professional soldier in Hitler’s army, wrote about the victims of Nazism with greater imaginative empathy than any other postwar German writer. In her talk with the SAP she will concentrate on questions that connect biography and psychoanalysis: Was Sebald merely a ‘melancholic’, as he said, or rather a serious depressive and more? How can we reconcile the deep sympathy for the Jewish victims of Nazism in his work with his less sympathetic treatment of some real-life models for his Jewish characters? Why did he tell fictions (and sometimes lies) to his public about these models and about his writing? Where does he stand, as a German writing about Jews, in the current debate about cultural appropriation? Does the extraordinary quality of his work justify everything?

Carole Angier is the biographer of Jean Rhys and Primo Levi as well as W G Sebald. The daughter of Jewish refugees from Vienna, she was born in England, grew up in Canada, and returned to the UK at twenty-one. She was educated at the universities of McGill, Oxford and Cambridge. In earlier years she taught literature and philosophy, mostly for the Open University. More recently she taught academic and creative writing at the universities of Warwick, Birkbeck (London) and Oxford Brookes. She has edited several books of refugee writing and co-edited a series of nine books on writing. She is now working on a memoir-biography of her editor and friend of thirty years, Diana Athill.

Chair: Jan Wiener

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