“Eine Art idealer Landschaft”: The Material Agency of Landscape in W. G. Sebald’s The Rings of Saturn

Emily E. Jones


This essay undertakes an ecocritical and historical study of the environments described in Sebald’s The Rings of Saturn, focusing on descriptions and narrative reconstructions of the English countryside, specifically Somerleyton Hall, Ditchingham, Orford, and the Great Storm of 1987. Drawing on Jane Bennett’s theory of vibrant materiality and other understandings of other-than-human agency in the Anthropocene, I argue that Sebald’s processing of history is not only inspired by his wandering through the countryside, but is spatialized in the narrator’s interaction with the environment. Furthermore, I suggest that not only are history and environment inextricable from one another in Sebald’s work, but that their relationship to one another constitutes a radical recognition of material agencies acting on and around human subjects. (EJ)

View Full Text

This article requires a subscription to view the full text. If you have a subscription you may use the login form below to view the article. Access to this article can also be purchased.

Purchase access

You may purchase access to this article. This will require you to create an account if you don't already have one.