Adam Foulds: The uickening Maze



Reading this wonderful and fine wriiten novelThanks Adam Foulds This is not a dazzling overwhelmingly entertaining sort of book but rather one that works its magic uietly and subtly The poet John Clare is an inmate of Matthew Allen s asylum and Alfred Tennyson stays nearby with his melancholic brother Septimus who is under Dr Allen s care These are all historical figures and part of the magic that Adam Foulds weaves is to make these people utterly real with precise and cautious means Foulds is beautifully movingly sympathetic to all his characters allowing us to feel for and with them It is a complex symphony of different voices and perspectives moving between the three men Hannah Allen s 17 ear old daughter and her ContamiNation younger sister Abigail and even inmates of the asylum It shimmers exuisitely but disturbs tooThere is an interview with Foulds at the Guardian s website trusts the reader to do a little of the imaginative work with him Thankou Mr Foulds The uickening Maze promised to be such a good read tailor made for me An award winning novel about the poets Alfred Lord Tennyson and John Clare set in Epping Forest among the trees which I love Epping Forest is an ancient woodland which straddles the border between Greater London and Essex It is a protected woodland area of conservation and where it is left alone a little paradise a pastoral haven of natural beauty Part of High Beach Epping ForestThe novel takes place at High Beach which I happened to be driven through only this morning admiring the early Autumn sunlight filtering through the trees Epping Forest itself is now a strange mix A few crisscrossed roads dividing the huge woodland mean that it has become a commuter area for London Yet it also preserves its identity as an ancient woodland with areas of grassland heath rivers bogs and ponds A century ago the commuter belt did not exist as such but the forest would have been largely the sameFrom a literary point of view its interest lies in the fact that the poets Wilfred Owen and Edward Thomas were both stationed there during the first world war although there is no evidence that they actually metAnd just over seventy Taxi ins Glück years earlier two other major English poets had also briefly lived in this small area thanks to a doctor called Matthew Allen Doctor Matthew Allen had founded a mental institution called the High Beach Private Asylum where both John Clare and theoung Alfred Tennyson stayed It is not known whether these two very different poets ever met and in The uickening Maze they never do but Adam Foulds has combined known facts with imagined fictional events about this to create his novel Several ears are compressed into seven seasons so that the book starts in one Autumn and finishes in the Spring of the next ear but one The sections are titled this way and it increases the feeling that this novel is embedded in the natural worldAs we begin the novel we uickly become aware that the John so immersed in his forest life thinking his thoughts as poems and hating to be confined indoors is in fact John Clare the nature poet It is 1837 and after a lifetime s struggle with alcoholism depression and critical neglect he has been incarcerated in High Beach Asylum reported as being full of many strange delusions and deranged behaviour When he is in his right mind he feels increasingly isolated He wanders about Epping Forest talking to the wood burners and local gypsies They welcome and accept his visits as he has an open face seems no threat and tells them that he knew some romanies in Northamptonshire where he had learned a smattering of their languageThe gypsies suspect that he comes from the large institution and are kind to him sharing their poaching hauls and allowing him to fantasise immersing himself in the glorious woodland and obsessively pour out his nature poems We view this at first hand as Adam Foulds imaginatively describes John Clare s delusional behaviour and memory lapses Sometimes John Clare believes himself to be Jack Randall a prize fighting boxer at others Lord Byron either in poetic mode or boxing bouts The personas of Shakespeare or Admiral Nelson occasionally take over him too and once Robinson Crusoe At other times he believes that Wordsworth and Byron have stolen his best poems and published them as their own We witness these multiple personalities which plague him and see that clearly John Clare must be schizophrenic with some kind of bi polar disorder and have an identity crisis Although he seems to have moments of sanity two doctors had pronounced him insaneJohn Clare had begun to get some recognition as a poet but had had to work hard as a labourer to feed his large family of a wife children and his elderly parents In the asylum however what he mostly mourns is the absence of his home landscape in Northamptonshire and the loss of his two sweethearts He continually confuses his childhood sweetheart Mary with his wife Patty who had borne him many children view spoilerWhen a patient tells him she is Mary they have a primal sexual encounter in the forest neither conscious of the reality of the episode hide spoiler Creativity and madness are close and they may flow one into the other but at times they may be uite ruinous The uickening Maze is a brilliant analysis of human creative consciousness May I ask Losing My Virginity and Other Dumb Ideas you what isour opinion of Lord Byron s poetry He did indeed raise both eyebrows at that blowing long cones of smoke from his nostrils He answered uite wonderfully with a revelation A very great deal His poetry well Here he perhaps decided against a critical disuisition She thought he might not think her up to it but what he said instead pleased her just as well I remember when he died I was a lad I walked out into the woods full of distress at the news It was the thought of all he hadn t et written all bright inside him being lost for ever lowered into darkness for eternity I was most gloomy and despondent I scratched his name onto a rock a sandstone rock It must still be there I should think Time is the greatest judge of art Some names are blown by the wind of time into oblivion like fluff And some names it carves in the rock of eternity to remain in the human memory foreve. Closed world of High Beach and its various inmates the doctor his lonely daughter in love with Tennyson the brutish staff and John Clare himself are brought vividly to life Outside the walls is Nature and Clare's paradise the birds and animals the gypsies living in the forest; his dream of home of redemption of escape Rapturous et precise exuisitely written rich in character and detail this is a remarkable and deeply affecting book a visionary novel which contains a world.

Ppears as delusional as his patientsThe most rational people seen are the gypsies who live off the land and by the end of the story are being driven away They know who they are and have no pretensionsThe writing is wonderful in its ability to describe things seen and felt It is poetic at times it is poetry as John and Alfred attempt to write with limited success The descriptions of the walks through the field and forest are sometimes glorious and sometimes terrifying reflecting John s mood Fould s ability to use language to express mood was successful for this readerI would recommend this to readers of historical fiction poetry Step away from this book Seriously just put it down and walk away Forget what ou ve read about its gentle lyricism or the fact it made the Booker short list Just put it down and scarper You ll thank me laterIt s not that it s badly written In fact it s uite well written although if ou are judging by some reviews Not Without a Fight you ll readou might be forgiven for expecting a lot But it s not badWhat it is is pointless It s a neatly delivered pointless interlude There is no heart to the story nothing but reasonably well constructed uite poetic prose No depth no layers the vague attempts to lend vitality to his characters doesn t disguise the clich s and ultimately there is no reason to care what happens To anyoneWhat should have resonated with pathos the descent of the poet into madness is sadly a boring rather obvious walk in the forest with every aspect of the case underscored Oh look he s a poet who loves nature let s have him walk around the countryside Oh he s a bit mad he is let s have him do something a bit Garden Bouquets and Beyond you know madAnd we are never given a reason to care About any of it It s a small enough book but oh the exuisite boredomLook it s a nice day out Or pissing rain whatever Anyway doourself a favour Get out now ou ll never get those two hours back The Lunatic the Lover and the Poet are of imagination all compact continues Shakespeare and Adam Foulds might well have taken this for the motto of this novel The setting is High Beach a mental asylum run by Dr Matthew Allen on the fringes of Epping Forest East of London The time is the late eighteen thirties The poets are John Clare a laborer s son briefly celebrated for his rural verse and Alfred Tennyson near the beginning of his own career All three were real figures Clare was to be institutionalized for the rest of his life and largely forgotten only to be rediscovered a century later Tennyson himself a melancholic bought a property nearby to be close to his brother Septimus who committed himself to the asylum And Allen was an extraordinary figure chemical philosopher phrenologist pedagogue and mad doctor in the words of his biographer add to that inventor entrepreneur and bankrupt Adam Foulds has woven these factual strands into a tapestry of the imagination set eually in the minds of its many characters and the revolving seasons of the English countrysideThe human world of High Beach is an often confusing jumble of inmates attendants visitors members of Allen s family including his lovesick daughter Hannah together with other assorted children neighbors and visitors It is difficult to keep straight and made difficult still when an inmate suddenly starts calling himself by a different name But although Allen has some sadistic attendants under his unwitting command he is an enlightened doctor who allows his patients much liberty so the world of nature interpenetrates everything Foulds is at his best when closest to the countryside as when John Clare wanders far from home as a boy in the prologue or his several unauthorized excursions from High Beach to visit a nearby gypsy encampment Or when one of the inmates Margaret has a religious vision in the woods The wind separated into thumps into wing beats An angel An angel there in front of her Tears fell like petals from her face It stopped in front of her Settling its wings made a chittering sound It reached out with its beautiful hands to steady itself in the mortal world touching leaves touching branches and left stains of brightness where it touchedLike Maggie O Farrell did in The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox and Faulkner knew before her Foulds has discovered that the voices of madness permit a less literal approach to storytelling in which desire and memory can play on an eual footing with fact At its best it is a highly evocative approach But I am not convinced that he uses it to evoke anything very important not for instance as Pat Barker had done in Regeneration when she placed the poets Siegfried Sassoon and Wilfred Owen in a mental hospital against the background of the Flanders trenches Nor is there anything uite so compelling as Clare s own lines written from captivity And et I am and live with shadows tost Into the nothingness of scorn and noise Into the living sea of waking dreams Where there is neither sense of life nor joys But the vast shipwreck of my life s esteems Foulds can paint the seascape of those waking dreams but he cannot experience the shipwreckBut how does one really take a sane reader into the world of madness Part of Foulds strategy is to erase the boundaries between sane and insane Shakespeare would suggest that there is not much difference between the lunatic and the poet and with the very soft borders separating the various categories in Dr Allen s establishment not to mention the crazy enthusiasms of Allen himself the two do seem to merge But an empathetic portrayal of individual torment is really only possible when balancing on the brink but still retaining some contact with sanity Foulds description of John Clare losing himself in the countryside as a boy already has the seeds of all that will become of him both good and ill Margaret s vision of the angel is about as far as Foulds could go and still have the reader see through her eyes But when Clare as he did declares himself to be Byron or Shakespeare the reader can only shake his head and pull back If this novel lacks focus as I fear it does it may simply be because its target is beyond the reach of any lens Read it I translated this book to arabic means I kept doing nothing for 4 months apart from. Fe and catastrophic schemes of the asylum's owner the peculiar charismatic Dr Matthew Allen For John Clare a man who had grown up steeped in the freedoms and exhilarations of nature who thought 'the edge of the world was a day's walk away' a locked door is a kind of death This intensely lyrical novel describes his vertiginous fall through hallucinatory episodes of insanity and dissolving identity towards his final madness Historically accurate but brilliantly imagined the.

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Okay some people are going to love this novelI think that they are the same people who loved The Gathering by Anne Enright If The Management Bible you like poetry and literature that is on the crazy disjointed end of the spectrum this might beour cup of tea sadly it was not mineThis is one of those books that Zu schnell you thinkou might be able to snarf down in half a day because it s pretty short has a large font and lots of blank pages between the chapters But when Sleepless (Bird of Stone, you get into itou see that it s the other kind of book the one with not so many words but words that are hard to get through uickly Some people like this style of writing ou know who ou are others do not You can see which category I fall intoI didn t like any of these characters but was moved to weeping by the endingI think mental illness must be one of the most difficult curses on the planet I thought the story was interesting the characters were interesting but I really dislike this style of writing It felt like there was little if any tension for the majority of the story and then suddenly the writer reveals some very disturbing events The note I wrote to myself as I was reading says nothing happens and then everything happens enough to make ou sick I would recommend this for people who like depressing poetry and reading about what might be going on inside the mind of the mentally ill As I raise my head from the period marking the last sentence last word of this book I wonder I wonder What did I just finish reading A lunatic poets longing and desperate cry for nature being trapped within the fenced and tethered life of an asylum nature the source of his creations or was it a tiring tread into the discolored faded lives of the sane in the proximity of the senseless the insaneRather it s a story of despair of balancing and swaying on that thin line between sanity and insanity and knowing or else fooling ourself on which side of the barbed wire Invisible (The Curse of Avalon you existMadness has always been an enigma intriguing So I expected exactly the same from this book madness but alas Neither a tragic comedy nor a comic tragedy It is an assortment of varying degrees of hope John Clare a poet now a patient at the asylum run with neglect by Dr Mathew Allen longs for freedom the wilderness as he experiences amidst the gypsies for his home Alfred Tennyson another forthcoming poet s arrival at Dr Allen s abode due to the admission of his brother in the asylum brings forth hope to the doctor s daughter Hannah a chance for courtship Tennyson s arrival also strengthens the entrepreneurial hopes of Dr Allen but both father and daughter are denied and deprived of the charm and blessings of Lady Luck and remain stranded in their own peripheries Like a restless lunatic himself the writer Adam Foulds flits from one character to another shamelessly But there is little to complain since he with his immaculate writing style and like a maverick mind reader describes beautifully in simpleet strong renditions the nuances of helplessness the pain and despair of each character He is bold Yummy Supper yet gentle with his sketches and the celebration of this camaraderie keepsou hooked on till ou read the last word to stay and share the lives of each characterAdam Foulds through this novel seems to float aimlessly on clouds of nothingness but as I drifted along with him I was lost at times but emerged happy to be on this journey When I began this book I sighed with pleasure because I knew in the first few pages that I was in the hands of a writer who knew what he was doing I could feel the competence the control of language structure and story from the start and it never flagged The uickening Maze is a novel about the people associated with a private insane asylum in 1840 s England Dr Matthew Allen the director of the asylum Hannah his teenage daughter the famous nature poet John Clare who is an inmate and Alfred Tennyson before he became Alfred Lord Tennyson Poet Laureate whose brother is being treated there too as well as Margaret who fled domestic violence and found her escape in ecstatic religion Based on historical events the novel begins in a peaceful setting Epping Forest where the doctor s progressive ideas about the treatment of the mentally ill are helping John Clare a depressed poet who came from a peasant background Belonging nowhere he was briefly lauded and then out of fashion when allowed to leave the grounds hanging out with Roma Gypsies in the forest But the doctor s intelligence and unflagging energy find a new target fueled by the Victorian dreams of industry Investing in a new invention with visions of getting rich he abandons the asylum to abusive underlings inveigling the Tennysons into his scheme The story kept me rapt the writing evocative The wind separated into thumps into wing beats An angel An angel there in front of her Tears fell like petals from her face It stopped in front of her Settling its wings made a chittering sound It paced back and forth a strange soft curving walk that was almost like dancing It reached out with its beautiful hands to steady itself in the mortal world teaching leaves touching branches and left stains of brightness where it touched p 126 paperback editionThe terror of risk was that while it charged Matthew Allen had him skimming into the future with a harsh exhilaration that felt like delight while it filled This very interesting novel covers several ears in the lives of the owners and inmates of an asylum for the insane in England in the 1840sIt is the story of the nature poet John Clare who is slowly going mad Dr Matthew Allen the doctor charged with his care as well as the care of many other inmates the extended Allen family Alfred Tennyson who has brought his melancholic brother to High Beach for treatment and staff members who vary from benign to horrificThe setting itself is a character most often seen through John s eyes and described in varying ways from serene to gritty elegant to macabre depending on his mental state While this asylum is said to be one of the best of the time we see that it is really at times running itself as Allen spends his times dreaming of higher pursuits money making schemes that will make his fortune and his name At times he Based on real events in Epping Forest on the edge of London around 1840 The uickening Maze centres on the first incarceration of the great nature poet John Clare After Deep Listening years struggling with alcohol critical neglect and depression Clare finds himself in High Beach Private Asylum an institution run on reformist principles which would later become known as occupational therapy At the same time another poet theoung Alfred Tennyson moves nearby and becomes entangled in the li.

Adam Foulds born 1974 is a British novelist and poetHe was educated at Bancroft's School read English at St Catherine's College Oxford under Craig Raine and graduated with an MA in creative writing from the University of East Anglia in 2001 Foulds published The Truth About These Strange Times a novel in 2007 This won a Betty Trask Award The novel which is set in the present day is con