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Sarah Broadhurst's view...
Human Traces by Sebastian Faulks
Human Traces is Sebastian Faulksâ most ambitious novel to date, with scenes of great emotional power recalling his most celebrated work, yet set here on an even larger scale.
Set in the 19th century Human Traces explores the excitement of the time at the very beginning of psychoanalytic thought. Two friends, Jacques RebiÃ¨re and Thomas Midwinter are united by an ambition to understand how the mind works and whether madness is the price we pay for being human.
As psychiatrists, their quest takes them from the squalor of the Victorian lunatic asylum to the crowded lecture halls of the renowned Professor Charcot in Paris; from the heights of the Sierra Madre in California to the plains of unexplored Africa. Their search is made urgent by the case of Jacquesâs brother Olivier, for whose severe illness no name has yet been found.
However, it is Thomasâs sister Sonia who becomes the pivotal figure in the volatile relationship between these two men; a relationship which threatens to explode with the arrival in their Austrian sanatorium of an enigmatic patient, FrÃ¤ulein Katharina von A, whose illness epitomises all that divides them.
As the concerns of the old century fade and the First World War divides Europe, the novel rises to a climax in which the question of what it means to be alive seems to hang in the balance.
Vivid, moving and challenging in equal measure, Human Traces explores the question of what kind of beings men and women really are.
ReviewsFaulks is beyond doubt a master.
- Financial Times
One of the most impressive novelists of his generation.
- Sunday Telegraph
About the Author
Publication date29th August 2005
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CategoriesModern & contemporary fiction (post c 1945)
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