in memory of w.g. sebald (2): one leaves behind one's portrait

Wederom een fragment uit Ariadne's Thread: in Memory of W.G. Sebald van Philippa Comber (p. 215-216):

‘Like many of Max's later protagonists, [Matthias] Grünewald was a loner and a melancholic, of the type that came to be known in German as a Sonderling, an eccentric solitary. According to Claudio Magris, the figure of the Sonderling recurs “time and time again in German literature ... many of the heroes of [E.T.A.] Hoffmann and Jean Paul Richter are Sonderlinge ... all inspired by lacerating nostalgia and methodical rigour. ¹ In this instance, I believe there's an even stronger identification between Max and his protagonist. In the preceding section of the poem [‘As the Snow on the Alps’], he describes a self-portrait by Grünewald, which he had discovered in the library at Erlangen:
... Selbstbildnis eines vierzig

bis fünfzigjährigen Malers.
Immer dieselbe
Sanftmut, dieseble Bürde der
Trübsal,
dieseble Unregelmäßigkeit der
Augen, verhängt
und versunken seitwärts ins
Einsame hin.
... a self-portrait ... of a painter aged
forty
to fifty. Always the same

gentleness, the same burden
of grief,
the same irregularity of the eyes,
veiled
and sliding sideways down into
loneliness.
 ²
No doubt Max would have observed the portrait very closely; at the same time, it seems to be nothing short of a description of himself – down to the details of age, disposition and temperament. It is a passage, I think, to be read alongside the final lines of a poem Max had written some nineteen years before, in 1967:
Man histerläßt sein Porträt
Ohne absicht
One leaves behind one's portrait
Without intent. ³’



¹ uit Claudio Magris' Danube
² uit ‘Wie der Schnee auf den Alpen’ / ‘As the Snow on the Alps’, deel 1 van Nach der Natur / After Nature (Engelse vertaling door Michael Hamburger) (Nederlandse titel Naar de Natuur)
³ uit ‘Giuliettas Geburtstag’ / ‘Giulietta's Birthday’ in Über das Land und das Wassen – Ausgewählte Gedichte 1964-2001 / Across the Land and the Water – Selected Poems 1964-2001 (Engelse vertaling door Iain Galbraith) (nog niet in het Nederlands verschenen)

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