Ice (50th Anniversary Edition)

Ice (50th Anniversary Edition)

Paperback(50th Anniversary Edition)

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Overview

A dazzling and haunting vision of the end of the world, Ice is a masterpiece of literary science fiction now in a new 50th anniversary edition with a foreword by Jonathan Lethem

"One might become convinced that Kavan had seen the future . . . A half century after its first appearance, Kavan’s fever dream of a novel is beginning to seem all too real." -The New Yorker
 
In a frozen, apocalyptic landscape, destruction abounds: great walls of ice overrun the world and secretive governments vie for control. Against this surreal, yet eerily familiar broken world, an unnamed narrator embarks on a hallucinatory quest for a strange and elusive “glass-girl” with silver hair. He crosses icy seas and frozen plains, searching ruined towns and ransacked rooms, all to free her from the grips of a tyrant known only as the warden and save her before the ice closes all around. A novel unlike any other, Ice is at once a dystopian adventure shattering the conventions of science fiction, a prescient warning of climate change and totalitarianism, a feminist exploration of violence and trauma, a Kafkaesque literary dreamscape, and a brilliant allegory for its author’s struggles with addiction—all crystallized in prose glittering as the piling snow.
 
Kavan’s 1967 novel has built a reputation as an extraordinary and innovative work of literature, garnering acclaim from China Miéville, Patti Smith, J. G. Ballard, Anaïs Nin, and Doris Lessing, among others. With echoes of dystopian classics like Ursula Le Guin’s The Lathe of Heaven, Kurt Vonnegut’s Cat’s Cradle, and J. G. Ballard’s High RiseIce is a necessary and unforgettable addition to the canon of science fiction classics.

"One of the most mysterious of modern writers, Anna Kavan created a uniquely fascinating fictional world. Few contemporary novelists could match the intensity of her vision."  —J.G. Ballard

“There is nothing else like it.” —Doris Lessing
 
For more than seventy years, Penguin has been the leading publisher of classic literature in the English-speaking world. With more than 1,800 titles, Penguin Classics represents a global bookshelf of the best works throughout history and across genres and disciplines. Readers trust the series to provide authoritative texts enhanced by introductions and notes by distinguished scholars and contemporary authors, as well as up-to-date translations by award-winning translators.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780143131991
Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date: 11/14/2017
Edition description: 50th Anniversary Edition
Pages: 208
Sales rank: 329,305
Product dimensions: 5.00(w) x 7.70(h) x 0.60(d)

About the Author

Anna Kavan (1901–1968) was born Helen Woods. She began her career writing under her married name Helen Ferguson, publishing six novels. It was only after she had a nervous breakdown that she became Anna Kavan, the protagonist of her 1930 novel Let Me Alone, with an outwardly different persona and a new literary style. Much of her life remains an enigma, but her talent was none the less remarkable, and her works have been compared to that of Doris Lessing, Virginia Woolf, and Franz Kafka. Kavan suffered periodic bouts of mental illness and long-term drug addiction—she had become addicted to heroin in the 1920s and continued to use it throughout her life—and these facets of her life feature prominently in her work. Her widely admired works include Asylum Piece, I Am Lazarus, and Julia and the Bazooka (published posthumously). She died in 1968 of heart failure, soon after the publication of her most celebrated work, Ice.
 
Jonathan Lethem is the New York Times bestselling author of nine novels, including Dissident Gardens, Chronic City, The Fortress of Solitude, and Motherless Brooklyn, and of the essay collection The Ecstasy of Influence, which was a National Book Critics Circle Award finalist. A recipient of the MacArthur Fellowship and winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award for Fiction, Lethem’s work has appeared in The New Yorker, Harper’s Magazine, Rolling Stone, Esquire, and The New York Times, among other publications.

Kate Zambreno is the author of the novels Green Girl and O Fallen Angel, as well as two works of experimental nonfiction, Heroines and Book of Mutter. She is at work on a series of books about time, memory, and the persistence of art. She teaches in the writing programs at Sarah Lawrence College and Columbia University.

Read an Excerpt

It was essential for me to find her without delay. The situation was alarming, the atmosphere tense, the emergency imminent. There was talk of a secret act of aggression by some foreign power, but no one knew what had actually happened. The government would not disclose the facts. I was informed privately of a steep rise in radioactive pollution, pointing to the explosion of a nuclear device, but of an unknown type, the consequences of which could not be accurately predicted. It was possible that polar modifications had resulted, and would lead to a substantial climatic change due to the refraction of solar heat. If the melting Antarctic ice cap flowed over the South Pacific and Atlantic oceans, a vast ice-mass would be created, reflecting the sun’s rays and throwing them back into outer space, thus depriving the earth of warmth. In town, everything was chaotic and contradictory. News from abroad was censored, but travel was left unrestricted.

Confusion was increased by a spate of new and conflicting regulations, and by the arbitrary way controls were imposed or lifted. The one thing that would have clarified the position was an overall picture of world events; but this was prohibited by the determination of the politicians to ban all foreign news. My impression was that they had lost their heads, did not know how to deal with the approaching danger, and hoped to keep the public in ignorance of its exact nature until a plan had been evolved.

No doubt people would have been more concerned, and would have made greater efforts to find out what was taking place in other countries, if, at home, they had not been obliged to contend with the fuel shortage, the power cuts, the breakdown of transport, and the rapid diversion of supplies to the black market.

There was no sign of a break in the abnormal cold. My room was reasonably warm, but even in hotels heating was being reduced to a minimum, and, outside, the erratic, restricted services hampered my investigations. The river had been frozen over for weeks, the total paralysis of the docks was a serious problem. All essential commodities were in short supply; rationing, at least of fuel and food, could not be delayed much longer, despite the reluctance of those in power to resort to unpopular measures.

Everyone who could do so was leaving in search of better conditions. No more passages were available, either by sea or air; there were long waiting lists for all ships and planes. I had no proof that the girl was already abroad. On the whole it seemed unlikely she would have managed to leave the country, and an obscure train of thought suggested that she might embark on a certain vessel.
The port was a long way off, to reach it involved a long complicated journey. I was delayed, got there, after traveling all night, only an hour before sailing time. The passengers were already aboard, crowding the decks with friends who were seeing them off. The first thing I had to do was to speak to the captain. He turned out to be maddeningly talkative. While I became more and more impatient, he complained at great length about the way the authorities allowed overcrowding: it was a danger to his ship, unfair to himself, to the company, the passengers, the insurance people. That was his business. As soon as I got permission to get on with my own, I made a methodical search of the ship, but without finding a trace of the person I wanted.
Finally I gave up in despair and went out on deck. Too tired and disheartened to push through the crowds of people milling about there, I stood by the rail, overcome by a sudden urge to abandon the whole affair. I had never really had a valid reason for supposing the girl would be on this ship. Suddenly it seemed neither sensible, nor even sane, to continue search based solely on vague surmise; particularly as my attitude to its object was so undefined. When I considered that imperative need I felt for her, as for a missing part of myself, it appeared less like love than an inexplicable aberration, the sign of some character flaw I ought to eradicate, instead of letting it dominate me.

At this moment a big black-backed gull sailed past, almost brushing my cheek with its wing tip, as if on purpose to draw my attention and eyes after it up to the boat deck. At once I saw her there, looking away from me, where no one had been before; and everything I had just been thinking was swept out of my head by a wave of excitement, my old craving for her returned. I was convinced it was she without even seeing her face; no other girl in the world had such dazzling hair, or was so thin that her fragility could be seen through a thick gray coat. I simply had to reach her, it was all I could think of. Envying the gull’s effortless flight, I plunged straight into the solid mass of humanity separating me from her, and forced my way through. I had hardly any time, in a moment the boat would be sailing. Visitors were leaving already, forming a strong cross current I had to fight. My one idea was to get to the boat deck before it was too late. In my anxiety, I must have pushed people aside. Hostile remarks were made, a fist shaken. I tried to explain my urgency to those who obstructed me, but they would not listen. Three tough looking young men linked arms and aggressively barred my way, their expressions threatening. I had not meant to offend, hardly knew what I was doing. I was thinking only of her. Suddenly an official voice shouted through a loudspeaker: “All visitors ashore! The gangway will be raised in exactly two minutes.” The ship’s siren sounded an ear-splitting blast. An immediate rush followed. It was quite impossible to resist the human flood surging toward the gangway. I was caught up in the stampede, dragged along with it, off the boat, and on to the quay.

Standing at the water’s edge, I soon saw her high above me, considerably further off now. The ship had already moved away from the shore and was gathering speed every second, already divided from me by a strip of water too wide to jump. In desperation, I shouted and waved my arms, trying to attract her attention. It was hopeless. A whole sea of arms waved all around me, innumerable voices were shouting unintelligibly. I saw her turn to speak to somebody who had just joined her, at the same time pulling a hood over her head, so that her hair was hidden. Immediate doubts invaded me, and increased as I watched her. After all, perhaps she was not the right girl; she seemed too self-possessed. But I was not certain.

The boat was now beginning the turn that would bring it round facing the mouth of the harbor, leaving behind it a curving track of smoother water, like the swath left by a scythe. I stood staring after it, although cold had driven the passengers off the decks and there was no more hope of recognition. I dimly remembered what I had been thinking just before I caught sight of her, but only as one might recall an incident from a dream. Once again the urgency of the search had reclaimed me; I was totally absorbed in that obsessional need, as for a lost, essential portion of my own being. Everything else in the world seemed immaterial.

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Ice 4.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 4 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Hello and welcome to Iceclan. please let me know if you have a question. Feel free to look around.
icolford on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This mesmerizing novel was the last of Anna Kavan's works to be published in her lifetime. Ice is set in a world threated with annihilation through war and an encroaching natural cataclysm: the world is growing colder and will soon be engulfed in ice. Kavan's unnamed narrator travels from place to place searching desperately for a girl he knew at an earlier (and presumably happier) stage of his life. For some reason many years ago he abandoned her, and the girl has since married someone else. He is hopelessly entranced by her delicate and waiflike body. But she is moody and unaffectionate. She is also under the sway of the mysterious warden, a cruel and manipulative larger than life figure who seems to influence political and military operations throughout the country where much of the action takes place, and even beyond its borders. To say that this novel is a Kafkaesque nightmare is an inadequate description of Kavan's intentions. The book is a kind of allegory, a condemnation of human meanness, rapacity, and stupidity. Mankind will be killed off by the ice or by its own warlike nature--one or the other, only time will tell. The narrator repeatedly defies death in order to reach the girl and save her, but she resists him at every turn. He is obsessed with her, but gains no satisfaction from possessing her. Ice--a novel filled with contradiction and paradox--is a virtuoso performance. Anna Kavan¿s bitter personal vision produced many notable works, but Ice is undoubtedly her masterpiece.
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