Eagles' Nest [ePub]

by Anna Kavan

Wherever I looked, I encountered the same blank rejection, as though, by rejecting the hand, I had initiated a mass-reaction in my surroundings. With dreadful finality, the room itself was casting me into outer darkness.

A paranoiac anxiety-dream of hypervivid bipolar land forms...

Anna Kavan, a forgotten favorite whose virtues I suppose I can't really shut up about here on GR, wrote a number of exceedingly strange novels starting in the 1940s, culminating in her masterpiece of apocalyptic surrealism, Ice, in 1968. This story of a painter who seeks an escape from the empty monotony of commercial art by accepting an ambiguous appointment at a strange mountain mansion, falls from the center of that inventive period, 1957, around the time she was writing the excellent stories in Bright Green Field. In fact, Eagle's Nest most resembles a more developed form of the long closing entry in that volume, "New and Splendid", along with her earlier Asylum Piece. All of these works show the influence of Kafka's arbitrary and unknowable powers, but the beauty of Asylum Piece, and especially Eagle's Nest, is that they reveal these arbitrary forces, obscure and inescapable, to be as much internal as external. The nightmare of Eagle's Nest is that of an entire world peculiarly bound by crushing regulations imposed by uncertain external sources and seemingly impossible to guess at until a transgression has been made — but worse, this is all driven foremost by the arbitrary processes of human thought, at turns unreasonably hopeful and bitterly defeatist, which seem bent on pushing the characters inevitably into their crucial missteps. Given the remove Kavan seems to have felt from normal life, this may be an entirely accurate representation of her world view. The result is an uncanny novel that drips with a fantastical menace. Definitely one of Kavan's best and strangest novels; a shame that it's also one of the most severely out of print.

09.09.2010

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