Before the discussion in the Comments section goes any further, I wish to declare – and have on other occasions – my deep and abiding admiration for the writings of W.G. Sebald. I first came across The Rings of Saturn in the Travel Bookshop (I have long misrembered it as the Norfolk section of Stanford’s Map Shop in Long Acre). I was so impressed by its qualities of deep rumination about history, memory and the past that I asked Robert McCrum, the then books editor at the Observer, if I could write about Austerlitz on its publication (https://www.the guardian.com/books/2001/sep/30/travel.highereducation). I have looked the review up to remind myself of what I thought and felt when I first came across his writings and it is – rightly – a long eulogy, half written in the style of Sebald himself. So, I have been influenced not just by Sebald’s style – the long rambling sentences – but also by his awareness and understanding of the relationships between people, places and history.
One of my deepest regrets is that the Trustees of the National Portrait Gallery turned down a commissioned portrait of Sebald by Michael Sandle and I have been trying to persuade the University of East Anglia – so far unsuccessfully – to commission him retrospectively.