Diccionari Sebald


25 .06 .2015 - Hilario J. Rodríguez & SEBALDIANA

Hilario J. Rodríguez, escritor y crítico cinematográfico [España]

[Translation (subtitles): Carlos Ortega]


Sebald loved detective games and that’s why he was also attracted by names. With his own he was misleading us by using a W instead of Winfried and hiding from us that his friend knew him as Max. Apparently, while listening on a radio show about Fred Astaire that his real name was Frederich Austerlitz, Sebald got, let’s say, the first impulse for then writing what it would maybe be his best novel, Austerlitz. Names that are always misterious identities, that hide something behind, an enigma, an explanation to a historical fact, have always interested me because my father (who was a demographer), spent 20 years writing a doctoral thesis: he was basically going to record offices in order to consult books on which he was copying – meticulously – the names he found of people who had been registered in the 17th and 18th centuries in a remote area of Galicia. The transcription of these names has a very important reflection in Sebald’s work: in the essay dedicated to Robert Walser, The Solitary Walker, he reminds us that we could possibly have never met Robert Walser and known of his importance, if it hadn’t been for Carl Seeling’s enormous work. Seeling not only wrote the book on his walks with Walser, he was also the person in charge of transcribing the “micrograms” (short poems) and, as we all know, that was a titanic job. On one occasion, while I was accompanying my father to one of the record offices where he consulted the books, I asked him how he felt everytime he was able to transcribe one of those allusive names and he told me it was like giving life back to a dead.”