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Submitted Literature

Inglorious

By Joanna Kavenna

Review

Depression, anxiety and obsessive symptoms are revealed as being both common experiences and ones which no one is immune from.  The novel documents Rosa’s, the lead character, psychological deterioration following the breakdown of life-stabilising elements (relationship, job and social life) and her frantic attempts to regain some degree of order in the form of repetitive list writing and erratic behaviours.  The repetitive appearance of these lists in the text mirrors the repetitive nature of acute anxiety.

Key Themes:

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Obsessions
  • Psychosis
  • Revealing Reads

Significant Quotes / Pages

4-5 – “Yet recently she had been feeling dislocated.  The death of her mother, in January, was the start of that.  She understood it was a natural process, inevitable and questionable, but it knocked her off course and she couldn’t right herself again.  She went into work and was congratulated on her perseverance, but at night she was troubled by bad dreams, grief sweats, fear of the void, internal chaos that she tried to keep well buried, aware that her experience was general not exceptional and she really ought to button up.  She missed her mother, of course, she felt the lack of her like a deep soundless blackness, and she thought it was impossible that this should be the natural condition of life.  She felt as if a seismic shift had occurred; the ground had fallen away, revealing depths below, shapes clad in shadow.”

64 – “TEMP, she thought.  Temper.  Temperature.  The tempo of the times.  Time’s grasping temper.  The temperature of the city.  Was that what it meant?  She couldn’t be sure. Temptation. The temptation to do nothing.  It was heavy upon her.  A few months ago she had still been industrious.  She went out seeking advice from anointed experts.  She had been to see Dr Kamen in September because she was concerned her mood dipped.  She wasn’t ill, she explained.  She just needed something to steady her, calm her nerves.  I have undertaken a labour. If she was honest, she was sometimes disturbed by the intensity of her thoughts, the way they held her.  She couldn’t control her accessions.  Months after leaving her job, she was still undisciplined, still quite out of sorts. I feel myself driven towards an end that I do not know.  I have been panicked.  I am seized by the play of opposites, she had suggested to Dr Kamen, as they sat in a small room where he worked, a room like a throat lozenge – purple walls, tapered sides. ‘You know, the usual ones, being and not being, life and death, beauty and ugliness, good and evil, the rest.’”

Reference: Joanna, Kavenna. 2007. Inglorious. London: Faber and Faber, 2007

Reviewer

- Charley Baker
Date Review Submitted: Friday 20th March 2009