asylum of dr caligari

The Asylum of Dr. Caligari

James Morrow

The infamous Dr. Caligari: psychiatrist or psychopath? In this wry and satiric tour de force, award-winning author James Morrow (Towing Jehovah, The Last Witchfinder) offers a surprising and provocative take on a silent film classic.


The Asylum of Dr. Caligari

by James Morrow

ISBN: 978-1-61696-265-4

Published: June 2017

Available Format(s): Trade Paperback and Digital Books


The infamous Dr. Caligari: psychiatrist or psychopath? In this wry and satiric tour de force, award-winning author James Morrow (Towing Jehovah, The Last Witchfinder) offers a surprising and provocative take on a silent film classic.

In the summer of 1914, the world teeters on the brink of the Great War. An American painter, Francis Wyndham, is hired to provide art therapy at a renowned European asylum, working under the auspices of its mysterious director, Alessandro Caligari. Francis is soon beguiled by his most talented student, Ilona Wessels, whose genius with a brush is matched only by the erotic intensity of her madness.

Deep in his secret studio, Dr. Caligari, rumored to be a sorcerer, struggles to create Ecstatic Wisdom, an immense painting so hypnotic it can incite entire regiments to rush headlong into battle. Once Francis and Ilona grasp Caligari’s scheme in all its supernatural audacity, they conspire to defeat him with a magical work of their own…

Praise for The Asylum of Dr. Caligari

“I was reminded time and again of some horror greats including Dracula and Frankenstein.”
The Booklover’s Boudoir

“No one does history-meets-the-fantastic like Morrow. The Asylum of Dr. Caligari is a great example—Impressionism versus expressionism, psychology in the asylum of ‘dreams,’ the weaponization of art, big laughs and big ideas, a wild imagination, and smooth, subtle writing.”
—Jeffrey Ford, author of A Natural History of Hell

The Asylum of Dr. Caligari is a fast, funny book . . . Brilliantly walking the line, its zippy energy camouflages a surprisingly powerful resonance. It’s yet another seriocomic triumph from one of the genre’s best satirists.”
Christopher East

About the Author

James Morrow is the author of the World Fantasy Award–winning Towing Jehovah, the New York Times Notable Book Blameless in Abaddon,  and the Theodore Sturgeon Award–winning  Shambling Towards Hiroshima. His most recent novels include The Madonna and the Starship The Last Witchfinder, hailed by the Washington Post as “literary magic,” and The Philosopher’s Apprentice, which received a rave review from Entertainment Weekly.  A master of satiric and the surreal, Morrow has enjoyed comparison with Mark Twain, Kurt Vonnegut, and John Updike. He lives in State College, Pennsylvania with a collection of Lionel trains and a rapidly growing library of DVDs of questionable taste.

Praise for James Morrow

“James Morrow is a wildly imaginative and generous novelist who plays hilarious games with grand ideas.”
New York Times Book Review

“Watch out for James Morrow: He’s magic.”
Washington Post Book World

“I am so besotted with James Morrow’s talent that I cannot find a word big enough to deify it.”
—Harlan Ellison

“James Morrow is an original—stylistically ingenious, savagely funny, always unpredictable.”
Philadelphia Inquirer

“Writing a brand of masterfully understated comic prose all his own, Morrow is a genius…”

“America’s best satirist.”
—James Gunn, editor of The New Encyclopedia of Science Fiction

“Morrow’s satire is funny and sad, and increases our ability to see the little bits of truth in our own world.”
Denver Post

“James Morrow demonstrates that he may be the Jonathan Swift of the late 20th century.”
Des Moines Sunday Register

“Morrow is even more inventive than Vonnegut.”
Cleveland Plain Dealer

“The man defines fantasy.”
Chicago Tribune

“Morrow is the greatest kind of American author. ”
The Stranger

Praise for The Madonna and the Starship

An June Must-Read Science Fiction and Fantasy Book

<b[starred review]<=”” b=””>Jonathan Swift meets Buck Rogers in this hilarious send-up of the golden ages of television and pulp sci-fi . . . This delightful romp from Morrow (Shambling Towards Hiroshima) provides the breathless answer in short order; no need to wait for next week to tune in and find out.
Publishers Weekly

“The story has the tone of a manic tall tale, and is often just as hilarious….”

“To whatever extent the Qualimosians represent the spirit of Richard Dawkins’ The God Delusion, the ‘live and let live’ moral of The Madonna and the Starship is closer to Sagan’s The Demon-Haunted World. And what’s more, it’s funny!”

Galaxy Quest, eat your heart out.”

“This latest book by the inimitable James Morrow is rife with gonzo charm and buried barbs and offbeat parables galore.”

On The Last Witchfinder

“Intrepid, impeccably researched…”
Publishers Weekly, starred review

“James Morrow’s novel about early American witchcraft pulls off so many dazzling feats of literary magic that in a different century he’d have been burned at the stake.”
Washington Post

“This impeccably researched, highly ambitious novel — nine years in the writing — is a triumph of historical fiction.”

Visit the James Morrow website.