Notes from a time traveller

Jason Cowley reviews WG Sebald’s last book, Campo Santo, in The Guardian:

Sebald is, above all else, an elegist. His lost men, emigrants and wandering solitaries tell of lives ended abruptly or displaced by the inexorable forces of history over which they have no control. Many of the people he writes about exist now only in photographs or as names on gravestones and memorials.

In Campo Santo, this latest collection of fragments, essays and unfinished pieces, we find Sebald in Corsica. There, as usual, he takes a small room in a hotel, visits several museums that prompt the inevitable reflections about Napoleon and his extended family, and accompany him as he begins his lonely walks around the island. Soon we find him in the graveyard of Piana, reading the names of the long dead and worrying about overpopulation and who, if anyone, will honour, let alone remember, the dead of our teeming modern cities: Buenos Aires, Tokyo, Cairo, Lagos, Shanghai, Bombay.

More here.