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John Beck's "Reading Room: Erosion and Sedimentation in Sebald's Suffolk," exemplifying the critical essay as well-wrought and well-written, offers a beautifully paced and crafted discussion of, among other things, how Sebald uses metaphors derived from natural forces to represent cultural processes of change and transformation, almost always couched in terms of decline and decay. "Erosion," writes Beck, "is the subject of Sebald's The Rings of Saturn. The book is about the erosion of confidence in the power of representation to record a knowable world adequately and thereby control it. It is about the arrogance of a rapacious European capitalism that built its empires too close to the water." Sebald's book, he goes on to argue persuasively, offers "a poetics of history," a phrase that offers a sensible way of describing the measured, resonant cadences of Sebald's prose and its obsessively reiterated themes.