CultureLab • Permanent Seminar

Montagem e experiência: W. G. Sebald em diálogo com Walter Benjamin e Alexander Kluge

Luciano Gatti (Federal University of São Paulo)

The presentation aims to discuss the hypothesis that the montage of image and text, investigated by W. G. Sebald in the work of Alexander Kluge and used in his own literary project, would be an answer to the problem of the artistic presentation of events in the history of the century that put the concept of experience into question. A difficulty for an individual to assimilate into their life story historical processes that generate exile, death and destruction on a large scale, first investigated by Benjamin as a crisis of traditional experience, is thus taken up by Sebald as a central problem for contemporary literature and results in a literary project that challenges the autonomy of artistic media and the distinction between fiction and document. The presentation discusses this question in two Sebald’s works: in the essays Air War and Literature, in which he investigates the scarce and problematic presence of the aerial bombardment of German cities in post-war literature; and in Austerlitz, a prose book that exposes the mismatch between violent historical processes of mass destruction and the individual capacity to assimilate them as an experience, based on an individual’s endeavour to reconstitute his own past with the help of oral accounts and documentos.


Luciano Gatti is professor of Aesthetics and Philosophy of Art at the Department of Philosophy at the Federal University of São Paulo and a visiting researcher at the Institute of Philosophy at the Free University of Berlin. He is the author of Constelações. Crítica e Verdade em Benjamin e Adorno (2009), A Peça de Aprendizagem. Heiner Müller e o Modelo Brechtiano (2015), in addition to the novel Velhos Hábitos (2021). The publication of the book Rastros do Mundo. Experiência e Repetição em Samuel Beckett is scheduled for 2024.

The session will be in Portuguese. To join the session via Zoom, click here.