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The Inmates by John Cowper Powys
  

Synopsis

The Inmates by John Cowper Powys

'What I've tried to do in this tale is to invent a group of really mad people who have the fantastic and grotesquely humorous extravagance that, after all, is an element in life'. So wrote John Cowper Powys himself in his prefatory note to this novel first published in 1952. In this 'wild book' Powys creates a 'Philosophy of the Demented' expressing fundamental truths about madness and sanity. Most of the novel, though, like so much of his later fiction, it is more a fantasy, takes place in Glint Hall, a lunatic asylum. The two main characters are John Hush and Tenna Sheer. They fall in love. The rapidly developing, psychologically complex narrative centres on 'Hush's organization of a conspiracy of revolt amongst the most fantastically crazy of the inmates'. It makes for a strange, disturbing, and yet, at times, funny read.

About the Author

John Cowper Powys (1872-1963) was born in Derbyshire, brought up in the West Country (the Somerset/Dorset border area was to have a lasting influence on him), went to Cambridge University and then became a teacher and lecturer mainly in the USA where he lived for about thirty years. On returning to the UK, after a short spell in Dorset, he settled in Wales in 1935 where he lived for the rest of his long life. Those are the bare bones of his life. In some senses they seem unimportant when set alongside his extraordinary writing career. Not only was output prodigious, it was like nothing else in English Literature. Indeed, George Steiner has made the bold claim that his works are 'the only novels produced by an English writer that can fairly be compared to the fictions of Tolstoy and Dostoevsky'. And even that doesn't touch on their multifarious strangeness. John Cowper Powys wrote compulsively: letters, diaries, short stories, fantasies, poetry, literary criticism, philosophy and, above all, novels poured out of him. He also wrote a remarkable autobiography. In addition to his Autobiography his masterpieces are considered to be Wolf Solent, Glastonbury Romance, Weymouth Sands and Porius. But his lesser, or less well-known, works shouldn't be overlooked, they spring from the same weird, mystical, brilliant and obsessive imagination. John Cowper Powys is a challenging author with an impressive list of admirers. In addition to George Steiner, these have included Robertson Davies, Margaret Drabble, Theodore Dreiser, Henry Miller, J. B. Priestley and Angus Wilson.

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Book Info

Publication date

18th September 2008

Author

John Cowper Powys

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Publisher

Faber & Faber

Format

Paperback
318 pages

Categories

Modern & contemporary fiction (post c 1945)

ISBN

9780571242153

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