Ben Streeter deposited Reparation in W. G. Sebald’s Austerlitz and Patrick Modiano’s Dora Bruder in the group CLCS 20th- and 21st-Century on MLA Commons 3 years, 10 months ago
W. G. Sebald and Patrick Modiano are two contemporary authors who share similar themes and literary practices. They are both fastidiously or even obsessively historical in their narrative development. And they seem preoccupied with the sins of World War II. Critics have divided feelings about their accomplishments. Skeptics say their trauma narratives induce despair, are complicated for complication’s sake, and overstate trauma’s imperviousness to healing. Advocates say their fictions bring historical injustices that have yet to be fully reckoned with to the present with emotional immediacy. This essay argues that Sebald’s Austerlitz (2001) and Modiano’s Dora Bruder (1997) do important political work in their fastidious historical narratives. In recreating the suffering of the past, these authors pull their readers into participating in acts of historical reparation, which are critical to social progress.