This short novel relates the experience of a young woman, Josephine Traughton, during her recovery from a mental breakdown. The action takes place inThis short novel relates the experience of a young woman, Josephine Traughton, during her recovery from a mental breakdown. The action takes place in a mental institution in and around the English countryside he during the 1950s. The patronizing attitude of the institution’s staff and the therapeutic treatment of the patients lends a patina of the banality of something sinister just below the surface.
Dawson's language in first half of this short novel is understated and representative of Josephine’s quiescent emotional state with the exception of her uncanny recognition of the smallest of details in the features of others. Dawson’s description of a woman’s behavior within the social framework of the 1950s seems realistic and one wonders if this is a contributor of Josephine’s feeling of alienation. Dawson’s language in the second half is much more lucid as Josephine’s relates what she experiences and observes during a relapse brought on by a set of social interactions when she mechanically tries to fit in with the social norm of the period.
The ha-ha is a depression in the landscape overlooked by gardeners and filled with long soft grass and poppies. Lying between the hospital wall and the town below, one can lie invisible to passers-by and look out over the fields and country beyond existing in a state of suspension of the perfect moment. Symbolically it is a retreat between two worlds; the town representing structured social norms and the hospital, "the settlement," representing a medicated non-existence, neither of which Josephine can exist in.
In comparison Doris Lessing's novel “Briefing for a Decent into Hell,” the emotional world of Lessing's primary character, Professor Charles Watkins, is significantly deeper, extended, and dreamlike. The altered emotional states of both novels are related from the first person point of view and are logically consistent to the extent that stories of this type can only be narrated after the fact....more
Twenty-five short essays/commentaries, about 2,500 words apiece, are representative of a range of thinking on the American scene during the 1960's.
ThTwenty-five short essays/commentaries, about 2,500 words apiece, are representative of a range of thinking on the American scene during the 1960's.
They can be appreciated for their economy of style and enjoyed as a backdrop for comparison with the contemporary cultural scene; viz. on how it has changed, remained the same, or intensified. The essays dealing with Eleanor Roosevelt are panegyrics but let us recognize the fleeting nature of image regardless of the accomplishment. The essays on the creative experience in art, theatre, and literature are interesting and somewhat insightful especially the impact of television.
The views on the relationship between society and science of what the latter might accomplish for the former are limited but some recognize the early trends in compartmentalization of knowledge and its negative consequences on culture. ...more