Note 16

The most beautifully entranced of Kafka’s successors is W.G. Sebald, who puts the lightly fictionalised ‘Dr K’ at the centre of Vertigo (itself a structural embellishment of Kafka’s ‘The Hunter Gracchus’); in Austerlitz, he places the Theresienstadt concentration camp at the core of both the narrative and a German-inflicted Europe the memory of which has been repressed by its traumatised protagonist. Working on my novel Umbrella, which concerns the aftermath of the Encephalitis lethargica epidemic that swept Europe at the end of the First World War, I sought to avoid Theresienstadt, but then I discovered that the camp was one of the few places where an outbreak of the unusual disease had been recorded since 1917-18.

Comments are closed.