THE BIRD'S NEST by Shirley Jackson


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A new novel is perhaps most reminiscent of Hangsaman (1951) and is again a curious, quixotic pursuit of the whimsies of the sick mind when Elizabeth Richmond, a plain and unobtrusive girl of 23, is 'diagnosed- after several forgetful lapses and extreme headaches- as a multiple personality. Here, through her visits with her doctor in which hypnosis is both a diagnostic and therapeutic medium, are the chameleon, converging and conflicting personalities of Elizabeth, Beth, Betsy and Bess; Elizabeth, who is vacuous and apathetic; Beth, who is sweet and docile; Betsy who is vicious; and Bess who is arrogant and vulgar. Her mother, and her mother's lover, figure strongly in the dim world of her childhood; her capricious pranks and antic insolence aggravate and alienate her doctor; and escapade in which she runs away to New York returns her home-battered and bruised; but from it all, she emerges with a new name- and a renascent personality... For a special audience, an exploratory of precarious and unpredictable variations, this has a certain fascination.

Pub Date: June 21st, 1954
Publisher: Farrar, Straus & Young