Die Ringe des Saturn


W.G. Sebald

photos by Matthias Ritzmann

Eichborn Verlag

Frankfurt a.M. 1995

[first edition]

217 x 128 x 34 mm

now to be found in the collection:

Kurth, GER


The binding:


Full leather binding in orange goatskin with sewn grey silk headbands and leather joints. The bord-à-bord doublures are a horizontal three-part paper composition in two shades of light yellow with a facing flyleaf in an off green-grey. The book is housed in a chemise that is covered with papers that are reminiscent of the doublures, though juxtaposing here a dark yellow with a light grey in the middle. Book and chemise live in a green slipcase, lined with green-grey alcantara.

The books’ design is hand tooled with small tapered lines in light matt silver, floating horizontally over the boards. Amongst these, a free flowing play of dots in various thicknesses gather here and there, tooled with colour pigment foil in four shades of grey and small accents in blue. Tiny tooled curved lines in bright yellow float intermittently amongst all this bustle, while a handful of small circles provide calm in white.
The book and chemise are titled on the spine, with the words running upwards, the letters tooled alternatively in white and cream colour pigment foil. The slipcase is tapered perfectly to fit the round and is lined, as is the chemise, with green-grey Alcantara. All papers used are hand-dyed.

The group rests in a drop-back box which doubles as the artwork’s trousseau. Two drawers contain a.) all the tooling master templates that were used for the execution of the design, and b.) the publisher’s original green case covers and slipcase, carefully preserved. The trousseau is covered with a hand-dyed fabric and lined with soft Alcantara.


The novel:

‘The Rings of Saturn – an English Pilgrimage’ sees the narrator Max head off on a walk through Suffolk, in the hope to rid himself, so he days, from a rising emptiness within. Passing the barren marshes, walking the coastal line, he rests here and there, letting his mind take flight. The coastal scenery and wide views allow small observations to serve as prompts to freely insert historical events and other related train of thoughts in his narrative, spanning vast distances both in time as in space.

I was intrigued to explore how one element could serve as a starting point for various associations. Glittering small lines evoke - perhaps - the sea, reflecting light. Rising, they turn into clouds, then abstract shapes, a gentle rhythm in the back-ground, on which the other dots, curves, events come (and hum) to life. The business of the book’s design is juxtaposed with the calm of the three-part colour-block composition of the chemise and bord-à-bord sides.

bound 2023