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The Infernal Desire Machines of Doctor Hoffman (Penguin Modern Classics)

3.81  ·  Rating Details ·  1,875 Ratings  ·  153 Reviews

Desiderio, an employee of the city under a bizarre reality attack from Doctor Hoffman's mysterious machines, has fallen in love with Albertina, the Doctor's daughter. But Albertina, a beautiful woman made of glass, seems only to appear to him in his dreams. Meeting on his adventures a host of cannibals, centaurs and acrobats, Desiderio must battle against unreality and the

Kindle Edition, 274 pages
Published (first published 1972)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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Braden A.
Oct 18, 2007 Braden A. rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Fans of philosophical sci-fi
This quasi-philosophical science fiction with an erotic twist is a strange movel to say the least. But it is incredibly interesting, and very well written by Carter who has a very definite style.

It's not the type of book one can breeze have to read and think about every word, and the possible subtexts, double meanings and allegories inherent in every section.

It's challenging, but rewarding.
Aug 27, 2009 Michael rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
ATTN: Haruki Murakami

Read The Infernal Desire Machines of Doctor Hoffman. Take notes. Learn from it. That is how surreality is done.

What a brilliant book. One of the best I've read. HIGHLY recommended to everyone who loves great prose and playing with the laws of reality.
Dec 24, 2007 M. rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: those into super highbrow british pomo scifi
Doctor Hoffman aims to take over the world by dismantling time and implanting reality with surreality/ our desires made real. published the same year as Anti-Oedipus, hard to know if she's pulling from D&G's desiring machines or what, but the two are definitely linked.
fantastic sequences include: oh i don't want to spoil it.
bold, visionary, original, funny, dense, etc.
hooray for angela carter!
Jan 02, 2008 Daniel rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I was recommended this after asking for something along the lines of Mervyn Peake's "Gormenghast", only written by a woman. And while I don't think this was an accurate comparison on the part of the employee, I'm glad he made the recommendation.

This is a strange book. The plot involves a dream-making machine that is changing the fabric of reality, and a young man who ends up pursuing the elusive man who is behind it. What makes it weird is Carter's predilection for symbolism and strange sexual s
May 04, 2008 Amanda rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
I'm baffled by the other reviewers calling this book "erotic" or "sexy." Yes, there's a lot of sex; but at least 90% of it is rape in one form or another, including some episodes of child rape. If you find this book sexy, there is something seriously wrong with you.

This book reminded me of Burroughs's Junky or Cohen's Beautiful Losers, in that it is sexually explicit in a fantastical and determinedly grotesque and cruel way. I get the feeling that writers like Carter, Burroughs, and Cohen are
Jan 04, 2009 Jamie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: theory-heads, hardcore Carter fans
Shelves: undergrad
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jaina Bee
Jun 06, 2008 Jaina Bee rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: untanglers of riddles, wordsmiths
Recommended to Jaina Bee by: Maya
The tension between reason and passion in this book makes me feel like I'm being pelted by champagne snowballs while sitting in a hot tub of Mexican cocoa. Carter is a wicked, wanton wordsmith; a cerebral chanteuse of the silent opera that is a novel.

It is bitterly difficult to find a decent copy of this book (in the US, at least). The fuzzy, fading print of the edition pictured may thwart all but the most devoted readers. But if you're of the party that considers the brain the most potent love
Erik Graff
May 18, 2009 Erik Graff rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: no one
Recommended to Erik by: no one
Shelves: sf
This novel is a mix of fantasy, science fiction and what the author may have thought was eroticism. I found the fantasy too outrageous (she mixes several traditions, losing, I think, the power that one might have provided), the science fiction too fantastic and the eroticism completely uncompelling. Still, in a note from the time of reading the thing I find penned "sf novel--good", so it gets at least three stars.
Apr 06, 2010 Marc rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
If you are a fan of fantastic (i.e. surreal, fabulist), transgressive literature (think Lautreamont's "Maldoror," a work duly referenced here), this is a must-read. Though my copy is missing the final pages (!), I was bowled over by the first 216 I read. A feminist cross between Swift's Gulliver's Travels and Kobo Abe's Secret Rendezvous (all three feature anthropomorphized horses, by the way), those looking for something shocking, intelligent, and entertaining will find much to appreciate here. ...more
Jun 02, 2010 Brian rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
i read the last few pages of this book sitting on my front porch drinking a beer. it was pretty nice out and i was determined to get through this book, the first chapter and last chapter were compelling enough but the six chapters between were a mindfuck that i would have rather not read.

who wants to read about centaurs raping some lady? maybe some of the dan savage readers. maybe.

but the thing i will remember most about this book was on the last two pages. these two neighbor kids came out of t
Apr 05, 2011 Tina rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I was both excited and terrified to read this book - I love subversive literature, but I'm not fond of reading about sexual assaults. I knew going in, from others who have read her work, that rape was a common occurrence in her books, so I simply braced myself. It wasn't as bad as I thought, because the surreality of the book lessened the visceral brutality of the assaults. As for the rest of the story, I was wavered between being really interested and pretty bored. I found the narrator rather t ...more
I'll admit, it took me a little while to get into this book given the strange mix of reality and illusion but once I did I really enjoyed it. Carter has created a world reflective of our own where the machines of Doctor Hoffman constantly create and show what we want and desire without it actually being real (sound familiar). Thrown into this is is the very real Desiderio who is unaffected by the illusions created by the machines don't effect him, instead he is tortured by his love and desire fo ...more
Gregor Xane
Jun 13, 2011 Gregor Xane rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2011
Relentless, bizarre image after bizarre image, sandwiched between descriptions of violent sexual acts, sprinkled with beauty and black humor. The writing was a heady combination of the formal and baroque. Truly unbelievable that such a variety of hideousness could be packed into so little space. Five stars for sheer audacity.
Rather like Oblomov this is a circular novel with the narrator returning to the starting point. I had the feeling that this book is allegorical I wondered whether it was about the construction of the self with the male and female leads representing the animus and the anima, in which case nothing really happens in terms of the exterior/outer/real world, the development and the journey would actually only be internal to the narrator.

Thinking about the novel as a journey through the self leading to
Invadozer Misothorax Circular-thallus Popewaffensquat

It seems some editor thought War of Dreams is a better title for the Americas than The INFERNAL DESIRE MACHINES OF DOCTOR HOFFMAN which is the UK title...stupid editor!! My copy says "WAR OF DREAMS" but I am choosing to ignore it. bleaaa..

I can't say enough about this great book. I could fill up a book bubbling over this thing, but I will pull my horses to make these simple hopefully coherent snorts.

It's such a treat each sentance and every word. I rolled it over in my brain before digesting it.
Alexander Popov
Feb 26, 2015 Alexander Popov rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Ревюто е публикувано за пръв път в онлайн списание "ShadowDance".

Адските машини за желания на доктор Хофман на Анджела Картър най-вероятно ще бъде една от най-добрите книги на родния пазар за тази година. И то не просто във фантастичния жанр, а изобщо на книжния пазар. Мога да си позволя да напиша това, въпреки че не следя особено зорко българското книгоиздаване, просто защото книгата е твърде, твърде добра. Картър е сред най-значимите писатели на английски език за миналия век, а тази нейна твор
Lesley Battler
Apr 09, 2013 Lesley Battler rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: keeper
In The Elegant Universe Brian Greene suggests string theory could harmonize quantum mechanics with Einstein's special relativity. This theory posits that besides the three spatial and one temporal dimensions of our accustomed existence, an additional seven infinitesimal dimensions are compressed throughout the universe.

Thus, immense possibilities we can scarcely even conceptualize lie within each location and moment. Furthermore, some scientists also speculate that miniscule time dimensions may
Ian "Marvin" Graye
Is This the Thrill of Metaphysics?

"The Infernal Desire Machines of Doctor Hoffman" ("TIDM") is a picaresque metaphysical thriller that is both intellectually stimulating and hugely enjoyable.

To the extent that it's philosophical, there's a risk that it might read like lecture notes. However, I never felt like I was being lectured to. The metaphysics was always absolutely integral to the plot, perhaps because it concerned the metaphysics of desire, and Carter's novel is primarily about desire.

Ana Silva Rosa
Oct 11, 2014 Ana Silva Rosa rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2013
Prose style: 5
Plot: 4
Depth of characters: 4
Originality: 5
Entertaining: 4
Emotional Reaction: 4
Intellectual Stimulation: 4

This book's awesome. It's extremely original and well written. On the other hand, some parts were tremendously boring, and the final scenes seemed rushed.
Vladimir Stamenov
Well, that was... something. Exactly what, I'm not really sure I could tell. Structurally, it was like a demented picaresque novel, though narratively, you just couldn't tell what would happen next. And yet, there was this underlying ennui, which after some contemplation, I think was actually a writerly feat exemplifying Desiderio's disillusioned way of looking at the world. Either that, or maybe that's Carter usual modus operandi, I'll see when I read something else of hers. A myriad references ...more
...for now all changes would henceforth be, as they had been before, absolutely predictable.
My ongoing class of philosophy hindered as much as helped my reception of this, for I am as familiar with Big Name's rhapsodizing on freedom and reality and metaphysical stuff as I am sick of their standardized tools of female objectification and other exotification. I will likely reread this further on so as to ensure as careful attention to throughout as, in this initial encounter, only came forward i
Jul 22, 2014 Algernon rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2014

Reason cannot produce the poetry disorder does.

So be prepared to throw your rationality and causality expectations overboard as you embark on this literary journey through a 'dangerous wonderland', following the peregrinations of one young man named Desiderio who tries to put a stop to the reality altering attacks coming from the renegade and possibly mad scientist, Dr. Hoffman. As an added incentive, Desiderio is also chasing a personal chimaera, the beautiful daughter of Hoffman - Albertina.
In terms of popularity I am astonished at how undervalued Angela Carter seems to be. Apart from the secret life of academia, where Carter is rightfully or wrongfully regularly exorcised by excited students, she remains a mystery to much of the literary world. There are a few reasons why I think this: Carter's intelligence: which shines so bright it makes ordinary prose seem possibly devolved in comparison. Everything about her prose is erudite, esoteric, erotically intellectualised, so much so i ...more
Nate D
Jun 17, 2015 Nate D rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Nate D by: mark monday
Reading various of Carter's stories, essays, and novels since being dazzled by the visceral/conceptual density of The Passion of New Eve last fall, I'd enjoyed everything, but begun to despair of anything being so simultaneously compelling, fantastical, and symbolically loaded again. But fortunately this familiar-but-strange voyage across the haunted archetypal landscapes of desire could be even better. Angela Carter remaking classic stories is great, but forging her own from the detritus of cen ...more
Another contestant for “weirdest book read in 2014”! (It seems that we have an awful lot of contestants for that prize). However, this one is also cool. In a slightly creepy kind of way.

The setting is some sort of Caribbean dystopia, where a City is under siege by one man, the eponymous Doctor Hoffman. He has some creepy machines, that change the laws of time and space and allows “mirages” to happen in the same realm as reality. Obviously, people go nuts under this situation and the city becomes
Ако решите да четете ”Адските машини за желания на доктор Хофман” на Анджела Картър, бъдете подготвени, че в нея ще попаднете на всичко, което не си позволявате дори да ви хрумне. Това не е удобна и "приятна" книга. В никакъв случай не е леко, "фантастично" читаво, което те увлича. Това е книга, която притеснява читателя. Нарочно. Тя се стреми да го изведе от зоната му на комфорт, от границите на съзнатото, от овладяването. Държи да му покаже гротескното, страховитото, отблъскващото, немислимото ...more
Michelle Moloney King
This is he weirded and most luscious, lucid and real book I've read since Joyce. The plot is the setting, characters...are unbelievable and yet I read every word. This is a heavy read, one sentence has many layers and is so off-beat that you need time to digest it. Such a worthy read.
the gift
somehow lost the original review- read this many years if not decades ago. original edition title in uk was 'war of dreams', which is exactly what this is about. if you have vivid, powerful, transgressive dreams. i was blown away.
Jun 16, 2016 Boris rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Трябваше ми втори преглед на този роман, за да си събера наблюденията от прочетеното. Само който е чел книгата знае колко трудно се говори за нея. Аз имах проблем с ревютата, които четях предварително - от нито едно от тях не ми стана ясно за какво по дяволите е тази книга.

Докато я преглеждах за втори път се опитвах да извадя есенцията, която да разказва накратко случващото се в тези близо 300 страници.

Ключовата дума е "желание". Имаме главен герой, който се определя като "безразличен". Тази нег
Beware the Hoffmann effect! I should've heeded. I got here through this apparently increasing monomania for E.T.A. Hoffmann and how he exists outside his works which is, in a word, multifariously. This book is rich with reference to his characters and biography, to the point where I'm not sure why Carter chopped the second "N" off his name because when you're working so deliberately from that source you might as well give the direct reference proper spelling.

This is such a 70s surrealist novel--
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Born Angela Olive Stalker in Eastbourne, in 1940, Carter was evacuated as a child to live in Yorkshire with her maternal grandmother. As a teenager she battled anorexia. She began work as a journalist on the Croydon Advertiser, following in the footsteps of her father. Carter attended the University of Bristol where she studied English literature.

She married twice, first in 1960 to Paul Carter. Th
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“I desire therefore I exist.” 89 likes
“I am entirely alone. I and my shadow fill the universe.” 71 likes
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