JUDITH by Nicholas Mosley


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Take the melodramatic core of reality from such earlier Mosley teasers as Accident and Serpent and you might end up with this high-toned, quicksilver mess about a delusional young actress named Judith. In three long letters to Bert (the filmmaker she's wondering whether to marry), Max (the professor who takes care of her after a friend's suicide), and Jason (who's married to Bert's sister--and Max's girlfriend--Lilia), Judith recounts her journey from a succession of London hotels to an Indian ashram, her incessant fears about a bomb going off, and the repeated and surrealistic return of a few motivic stories (Judith's murder of Holofernes, Achilles' battle with and seduction of the Amazon Penthesilea, the domestic disputes of God and His wife Lilith) that seem to lie behind patterns in her own life. The mode throughout is interrogative; you're not likely ever to read a novel with a higher proportion of questions to assertions ("You say things in a matter-of-fact voice, and assume people will know what you are meaning?" Judith aptly wonders early on). The effect of the relentless questions and allusions is to dissolve any certainty about the reality of particular episodes (who's really in love with whom? who really killed himself? when, if ever, did that bomb really go off?), but also, since nothing is anchored firmly in a felt reality, to make it hard to care very much about the answers or correspondences--especially as Judith's unspoken questions constantly interrupt her and everyone else in every sense-making activity they can imagine. Judith keeps wondering obsessively if she's hit bottom; readers getting into Mosley's questioning spirit are more likely to ask, "Are we having fun yet?"

Pub Date: Feb. 14th, 1990
ISBN: 916583-69-4
Publisher: Dalkey Archive
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