CLAIRVOYANT: The Imagined Life of Lucia Joyce by Alison Leslie Gold

CLAIRVOYANT: The Imagined Life of Lucia Joyce

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Gold's first novel (Anne Frank Remembered, with Miep Gies, 1987) rather captivatingly admits its debt to the large body of established ""truth"" in telling this otherwise imaginary story of Lucia Joyce's life as the tormented daughter of a towering literary genius. James Joyce--as Gold points out in an afterword--never entirely admitted that his daughter was insane, but instead hoped to see her mental aberrations as evidence of perceptive genius. Few will be able to agree with him as--in Gold's version--the beautiful Lucia throws chairs at her mother, sets fire to rooms, claws wildly at her own throat, and fears that her hands have become disconnected from her body. All is not violence and horror, however, and whether Gold makes a case (or intends to) for Lucia's ""genius,"" she does bring to life a creature of great pathos as Lucia grows up with her famous parents in Trieste and Paris, becomes a dancer and then stops dancing, has a bevy of suitors (including Samuel Beckett), and begins the downward spiral of anguish and craziness that will take her to a seemingly endless chain of hospitals and doctors (including Jung) and finally to the rest of her life permanently institutionalized. Much of Gold's novel takes the form of a ""memoir"" written by Lucia, and in its pages come alive not only exquisitely revealing details of life in the Joyce household, but also the flair and flavor of 1930's Paris, peopled with the likes of Chagall, Calder, Beckett, and the Joyces themselves--as war draws slowly nearer, and as Lucia grows slowly more mad. Remembering, late in her life, being left by her parents in a Brittany hospital on the eve of war, Lucia writes, pathetically: ""I never saw either of my parents again and wait for them to this very day."" From well-worn sources, a moving transformation into fiction of a life of suffering and--perhaps so--perception.

Pub Date: June 16th, 1992
Page count: 176pp
Publisher: Hyperion