Sunday, September 15, 2002

I'm trying to read W.G. Sebald's poem cycle After Nature, which in my case has meant spending lots of time today researching the art of Matthias Grunewald. This is one of those cases where you're not going to really grasp the poem unless you do a little homework; you have to find out the real story of Grunewald, and stare long and hard at his paintings, for Sebald's poem to make any sense whatsoever. Grunewald is also known to history as "Mathis Nithart" -- Sebald imagines (at least I guess that's what he's doing) that Nithart was actually his homosexual lover, and that the torment one sees in Grunewald's great paintings is the torment of a divided inner life.

This is only the first part of the poem so I don't know yet where Sebald is going with all this. But it's giving me an education.

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