James Morrow’s entrancing THE ASYLUM OF DR. CALIGARI is a recommended 2017 read
The MONROE COUNTY PUBLIC LIBRARY’s staff selected the novella as a recommended read for 2017.
American artist Frances Wyndham teaches art therapy in an insane asylum where Dr. Caligari’s masterpiece incites soldiers to rush into battle. A slightly sacrilegious romp through World War I that looks hard at the use of propaganda in wartime.
ON THE SHELF, the Pasadena Public Library blog, the book is featured in
The Great War in Literature.
Entrancing prose enhances the unusual plot of Morrow’s successful melding of history and fantasy. Francis Wyndham, a self-described “bookish farm boy from central Pennsylvania,” had his life changed, in 1913, by an inspirational visit to a modern art exhibition. Wyndham heads to Paris, where he adopts the identity of a descendant of “a line of North American gypsies famous for their spare but powerful folk art.” His initial efforts to get access to the giants of the age ends poorly, but he gets a new lease on life in 1914 when he’s offered the chance to serve as an art therapist at an asylum run by Dr. Alessandro Caligari. Despite Caligari’s poor opinion of Wyndham’s work, Wyndham lands the job, only to learn that his employer, who views WWI as a “grand-scale Nietzschean work of art,” has produced a painting, Ecstatic Wisdom, with unsettling powers that the American feels compelled to counter. Readers with a taste for the bizarre and unexpected will be satisfied.
For more info on THE ASYLUM OF DR. CALIGARI, visit the Tachyon page.
Cover by Elizabeth Story