The Strange Case of Madamoiselle P.

The Strange Case of Madamoiselle P.

by Brian O'Doherty
     
 
In this mysterious and haunting novel of 18th century Vienna, O'Doherty takes the reader from the hushed clinic of the controversial position Doctor Franz Anton Mesmer to the glittering and scheming Habsburg court of Maria Teresa of Austria.

Author Biography: New York based conceptual artist and art critic O'Doherty is the author of two works of fiction; The

Overview

In this mysterious and haunting novel of 18th century Vienna, O'Doherty takes the reader from the hushed clinic of the controversial position Doctor Franz Anton Mesmer to the glittering and scheming Habsburg court of Maria Teresa of Austria.

Author Biography: New York based conceptual artist and art critic O'Doherty is the author of two works of fiction; The Deposition of Father McGreevy was shortlisted for the Booker Prize 2000.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Five monologues constitute this slight first novel, which begins promisingly but grows fussy and pedantic as it traces the methods of 18th-century physician Franz Anton Mesmer, father of hypnosis. In three of the novel's sections, Mesmer ruminates on his theories of animal magnetism and the scorn of rivals who charge him with quackery. He discourses on his healing practices, conducted in shrouded rooms where he strokes the thighs of patients to coax out their ``universal fluid'' while hired musicians (here, young Mozart) soothingly play. Mesmer grows entranced, even sexually obsessed, with his 18-year-old patient Marie-Therese Paradies, a skilled pianist suffering from blindness and melancholia whose cure he claims to effect. The remaining monologues belong to Marie-Therese and her father. The patient muses on her affliction, her trust in her doctor and her friendship with Mozart; Josef Paradies expresses concern for his daughter and fumes at the ``fakery and nonsense'' of ``the pernicious Dr. M.'' Drawing on Mesmer's own treatise, the novel opens a window on a narrow vista of Viennese life but lacks the action and dramatic tension needed to excite the reader. (June)
Library Journal - Library Journal
In the Viennese imperial court at the end of the 18th century, a young blind woman undergoes treatment by Dr. Anton Mesmer, discoverer and promoter of the new science of ``animal magnetism'' (hypnotism). The patient's father, jealous of Mesmer, sets out to destroy the doctor but in the process ruins his daughter as well. Intriguingly conceived and exceptionally well written, this first novel compares favorably with Allen Kurzweil's A Case of Curiosities ( LJ 11/1/91). Both describe the same period, but they differ in their literary affiliations: Kurzweil's novel is picaresque, stepchild to Diderot and Restif; O'Doherty's is an odd hybrid of gothic romance and Enlightenment memoir. It's also extremely good, filled with strikingly beautiful synesthetic images in which light, memory, reality, imagination, new and old mingle as one domain of experience.-- David Keymer, SUNY Inst. of Technology, Utica

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781900850674
Publisher:
Arcadia Books
Publication date:
05/26/2004
Pages:
228
Product dimensions:
5.14(w) x 7.79(h) x 0.69(d)

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