W. G. Sebald 『A Place in the Country』 tr. by Jo Catling

「I have always tried, in my own works, to mark my respect for those writers with whom I felt an affinity, ( . . . ) by borrowing an attractive image or a few expressions, but it is one thing to set a marker in memory of a departed colleague, and quite another when one has the persistent feeling of being beckoned to from the other side.」
(W.G. Sebald 「Le promeneur solitaire」 より)

W. G. Sebald 
『A Place in the Country』

On Gottfried Keller, Johann Peter Hebel, Robert Walser and Others
Translated from the German and with an introduction by Jo Catling

Penguin Books, London, 2014
xiv, 203pp, 19.6x13cm, paperback
Printed in Great Britain

First published in German as *Logis in einem Landhaus* 1998
This translation first published by Hamish Hamilton 2013


sebald - a place in the country 01


Introduction (Joe Catling)


A Comet in the Heavens: A piece for an almanac, in honour of Johann Peter Hebel
[On Johann Peter Hebel]

J'aurais voulu que ce lac eût été l'Océan . . . : On the occasion of a visit to the Île Saint-Pierre
[On Jean-Jacques Rousseau]

Why I grieve I do not know: A memento of Mörike
[On Eduard Mörike]

Death draws nigh, time marches on: Some remarks on Gottfried Keller [On Gottfried Keller]

Le promeneur solitaire: A remembrance of Robert Walser
[On Robert Walser]

As Day and Night . . . : On the paintings of Jan Peter Tripp
[On Jan Peter Tripp]

Translator's Notes


「Introduction」(Joe Catling)より:

「( . . . ) in an interview with Arthur Lubow in 2001 Sebald describes his own visit to the Île Saint-Pierre ( . . . ) in the most idyllic, even nostalgic, of terms;

 I felt at home, strangely, because it is a miniature world. ( . . . ) It has one of everything, so it is in a sense an ark. ( . . . ) I don't like large-scale things, ( . . . ) This notion of something that is small and self-contained is for me a moral and aesthetic ideal.」


「A Comet in the Heavens」より:

「( . . . ) nowhere do I find the idea of a world in perfect equilibrium more vividly expressed than in what Hebel writes about the cultivation of fruit trees, of the flowering of the wheat, of a bird's nest or of the different kinds of rain; ( . . . ) and in the book of Nature which Hebel spreads open before us we may observe how even the most curious of creatures, such as the processionary caterpillars and the flying fish, each has its place in the most carefully balanced order. ( . . . ) Doubtless his continued observations about the cosmos were intended to give his readers a gentle introduction to the universe, to make it familiar so that they may imagine that on the most distant stars, as they glisten in the night like lights of a strange town, people like us are sitting in their living rooms at home ( . . . ). Ultimately it is this cosmic perspective, and the insights derived from it into our own insignificance, which is the source of the sovereign serenity with which Hebel presides in his stories over the vagaries of human destiny. ( . . . ) he never takes up a central role as preceptor, but always positions himself slightly to one side, in the same manner as ghosts, a number of whom inhabit his stories, who are known for their habit of observing life from their marginal position in silent puzzlement and resignation. Once one has become aware of the way Hebel accompanies his characters as a faithful *compagnon*, it is almost possible to read his remarks on the comet which appeared in 1811 as a self-portrait. ( . . . ) Both, the comet and the narrator, draw their train of light across our lives disfigured by violence, observing everything going on below, but from the greatest distance imaginable. ( . . . ) in the world created and administered by this narrator, everything has an equal right to coexist alongside everything else.」


「J'aurais voulu que ce lac eût été l'Océan . . . 」より:

「Towards evening, especially, when the day-trippers had returned home, the island was immersed in a stillness such as is scarcely now to be found anywhere in the orbit of our civilized world, and where nothing moved, save perhaps the leaves of the mighty populars in the breezes which sometimes stirred along the edge of the lake. ( . . . ) The darkness seemed to rise out of the lake, and for a moment as I stood there gazing down into it, an image arose in my mind which somewhat resembled a colour plate in an old natural history book and which ( . . . ) revealed numerous fish of the lake as they hung sleeping in the deep currents between the dark walls of water, above and behind each other, larger and smaller ones, roach and rudd, bleaks and barbels, char and trout, dace and minnows, catfish, zander and pike and tench and graylings and crucian carp.」


「Why I grieve I do not know」より:

「The ideal world of the Biedermeier imagination is like a perfect world in miniature, a still life preserved under a glass dome. Everything in it seems to be holding its breath. If we turn it upside down, it begins to snow a little. Then all at once it becomes spring and summer again. It is impossible to imagine a more perfect order. And yet on either side of this apparently eternal calm there lurks the fear of the chaos of time spinning ever more rapidly out of control. When the young Mörike begins writing, he has at his back the revolutionary upheavals of the end of the eighteenth century, while the terrors which herald the new age of industrialization are already silhouetted on the horizon, ( . . . ) The Swabian quietism Mörike subscribed to is - like all the Biedermeier arts - a kind of instinctive defence mechanism in the face of the calamity to come.」


「Death draws nigh, time marches on」より:

「The vision here is of the body turned to stone at the moment of utmost happiness, a petrification which is a symbol not of punishment or banishment, but an expression of the hope that the moment of supreme bliss might last for ever.」


「Le promeneur solitaire」より:

「Nowhere was he able to settle, never did he acquire the least thing by way of possessions. ( . . . ) and as far as clothes are concerned, at most one good suit and one less so. ( . . . ) And just as throughout his life he was remote from other people. He became more and more distant from even the siblings originally closest to him ( . . . ) until in the end, ( . . . ) he was the most unattached of all solitary poets. For him, evidently, coming to an arrangement with a woman was an impossibility.」


「As Day and Night . . . 」より:

「Remembrance, after all, is in the end nothing other than a quotation.」


sebald - a place in the country 02


sebald - a place in the country 03



本書「序文」によると、本書の原題「Logis in einem Landhaus」は、本書所収エッセイでも論じられているローベルト・ヴァルザーによる短篇「トゥーンのクライスト」からの引用です。
彗星のように空から地上を眺めるヘーベルに始まり、気球から地上を眺めるヴァルザーのエピソード(「Robert Walser was, I think, born for just such a silent journey through the air.」)に至って、ひとつの円環が閉じられます。
手遅れにならないうちに(「before ( . . . ) it may be too late.」)。


ヘーベル 『ドイツ炉辺ばなし集』 木下康光 編訳 (岩波文庫)
Robert Walser 『The Tanners』 tr. by Susan Bernofsky





Away with the Fairies


分野: パタフィジック。

趣味: 図書館ごっこ。

好物: 鉱物。スカシカシパン。タコノマクラ。

将来の夢: 石ころ。

尊敬する人物: ジョゼフ・メリック、ジョゼフ・コーネル、尾形亀之助、森田童子。


netakiri nekotaroの最近読んだ本