W.G. Sebald und die Dialektik der Aufklärung

Eine Interpretation von Ambros Adelwarth als Anti-Odysseus

  • Silvia Casazza IPP - Justus Liebig Universität Gießen


This contribution aims at an in-depth examining of the impact of Adorno’s and Horkeimer’s theories on W.G. Sebald’s opus. After introducing the main aspects of the Dialektik der Aufklärung that influenced Sebald’s literature, the article will focus on the analysis of Ambros Adelwarth’s journey, eponymous protagonist of the story in die Ausgewanderten, in relation to the interpretation of Odysseus’s nostos in the Dialektik. The Homeric hero represents the paragon of Western rationality that denies his own identity in order to defeat and dominate nature; he embraces reason as dominant entity over the world. On the contrary, Adelwarth sees through his travels the terrible destruction caused by that same reason detached from nature and decides to refuse it: he lets himself regress to a vegetative status and die. In this way, he subverts the pattern of modern rationality and constitutes himself as an anti-Odysseus.