In a Berlin Wunderkammer:-
Berlin archives everything
I travelled from the German Literary Archive in Marbach to the archives of the Akademie der Künste in Berlin two weeks ago, making it an August buried in carbon copies, contracts with amendments scrawled on them, occasionally angry letters, random bills and ominous pronouncements from the Ministerium für Staatssicherheit. Archival work is not what I feel trained to do; I started my life in books as a close reader of texts, and that’s still where I feel my skills lie. For Sebald’s Bachelors, I moved beyond text to theory, but for this next project, I am moving beyond text to paratexts and into the dark terrain of biography: trawling through reams of correspondence to try and discover the origins and careers of individual texts.
Every author’s archive is different; Sebald’s is notoriously neatly curated, others are completely exhaustive, others thin and reticent, others random, with…
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