This collection of stories, mostly interlinked and largely autobiographical, chart the descent of the narrator from the onset of neurosis to final incarceration in a Swiss clinic. The sense of paranoia, of persecution by a foe or force that is never given a name, evokes The Trial by Kafka, a writer with whom Kavan is often compared, although her deeply personal, restrained, and almost foreign accented style has no true model. The same characters who recur throughoutthe protagonist's unhelpful "adviser," the friend and lover who abandons her at the clinic, and an assortment of deluded companionsare sketched without a trace of the rage, self-pity, or sentiment that have marked more recent accounts of mental instability."
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(186mm x 123mm x 13mm)
Peter Owen Publishers
Publisher: Peter Owen Publishers
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US Kirkus Review »
These short stories, dealing with patients in a Swiss mental hospital, will capture some of the more serious of the readers of The Snake Fit, those who are learning that through fictional treatment, that strange borderland between sanity and insanity can best be presented. There is none of the mounting suspense, the morbid obsession with the horrors of the life that appeals to the curious reader. Rather is this a strangely, uncannily penetrating study of the workings of the diseased mind, the unrealities become realities, the withdrawal into the intangible world, the breakdown of personality - and, most extraordinary of all, the flashes of clarity, understanding and despair. Some of the stories are told in the first person; others in the third; all deal with people in the asylum, or on brief leave of absence in the outside world. Some of the sketches are essays rather than stories. And some have appeared in periodicals. Anna Kavan, of French birth, has worked in a mental hospital. (Kirkus Reviews)
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Author Biography - Anna Kavan
Anna Kavan was one of the greatest unsung enigmas in 20th-century British literature. Born Helen Ferguson, a fraught childhood and two failed marriages led her to change her name to that of one of her characters. Despite struggling with mental illness and heroin addiction for most of her life, she was still able to write fiction that was as powerful and memorable as any English female writer of the last 150 years.