From the author of Ice, Anna Kavan's Asylum Piece is one of the most extraordinary and terrifying evocations of human madness ever written.
This collection of stories, mostly interlinked and largely autobiographical, chart the descent of the narrator from the onset of neurosis to final incarceration at a Swiss clinic. The sense of paranoia, of persecution by a foe or force that is never given a name evokes The Trial by Franz Kafka, the writer with whom Kavan is most often compared, though Kavan’s deeply personal, restrained and almost foreign-accented style has no true model. The same characters who recur throughout — the protagonist’s unhelpful ‘advisor’, the friend/lover who abandons her at the clinic, and an assortment of deluded companions — are sketched without a trace of the rage, self-pity or sentiment that have marked more recent prozac memoirs.
‘Pervaded by a sense of intolerable oppression, lit by sudden shafts of delight in the natural world, their concise artistry proclaims how consumately she knew and rode her devils.’ – Guardian
‘Anna Kavan charges the space between her words and the reader’s mind with a continuous crackle of electricity.’ – New Statesman
‘A writer of unusual imaginative power.’ – Edwin Muir
‘An artist of great distinction.’ – L.P. Hartley
‘A classic equal to the work of Kafka.’ – Anaïs Nin
ANNA KAVAN (1901–1968) is one of the greatest unsung enigmas in twentieth-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.
|Date Published||1st September 2001|