Photography in Sebald

The art of photography is an important element in W.G. Seabald’s novel The Emigrants.The use of photographs is an essential source of support for the main theme in the novel which deals with memories.The implementation of the various photographs in the novel show that Sebald does not take his readers imagination for granted. Sebald presents his readers with images, so that they are able to experience his descriptions of certain eventsfirst hand. Although many of the photographs seem almost unimportant to the story, they serve the purpose of showing the reader how simple images can awaken unwanted memories. The Emigrants is a novel that gives the impression of reading someone’s personal memoirs; the use of photography also contributes to this feeling because it helps to connect fiction with the feeling of actual accounts of history.
Firstly, Sebald’s use of photographs indicates that he does not take his readers’ imaginations for granted, therefore he provides them with pictures in order to make sure that they obtain the proper images that he wants them to. Sebald is not sure that people will remember the descriptions that he has accounted in the novel and feels that if the readers are given visual images, they are more likely to remember what is being said in the novel.There is a line in the novel where the narrator is talking about Ferber’s ability to observe and remember faces; the narrator states, “whereas I for my part could never manage to picture those not present at any given moment” (Sebald, 163).Although the photographs are used for much more than simply a visual tactic for memorization, one can see through this quote that Sebald’s own insecurities with his memory are part of the reason behind the photographs in the novel.The incorporation of these images are a way for Sebald to make the images accessible to the readers so they do not have trouble picturing them as the narrator does.
Most of the pictures that a…

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