- By Adam Foulds

The Quickening Maze

  • Title: The Quickening Maze
  • Author: Adam Foulds
  • ISBN: 9780143117797
  • Page: 225
  • Format: Paperback
  • The Quickening Maze Based on real events The Quickening Maze won over UK critics and readers alike with its rapturous prose and vivid exploration of poetry and madness Historically accurate yet brilliantly imagined thi

    Based on real events, The Quickening Maze won over UK critics and readers alike with its rapturous prose and vivid exploration of poetry and madness Historically accurate yet brilliantly imagined, this is the debut publication of this elegant and riveting novel in the United States In 1837, after years of struggling with alcoholism and depression, the great nature poet JBased on real events, The Quickening Maze won over UK critics and readers alike with its rapturous prose and vivid exploration of poetry and madness Historically accurate yet brilliantly imagined, this is the debut publication of this elegant and riveting novel in the United States In 1837, after years of struggling with alcoholism and depression, the great nature poet John Clare finds himself in High Beach a mental institution located in Epping Forest on the outskirts of London It is not long before another famed writer, the young Alfred Tennyson, moves nearby and grows entwined in the catastrophic schemes of the hospital s owner, the peculiar, charismatic Dr Matthew Allen, as well as with his lonely, adolescent daughter, and a coterie of mysterious local characters With remarkable lyrical grace, the cloistered world of High Beach and its residents are richly brought to life in this affecting and enchanting book.Shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize

    1 thought on “The Quickening Maze

    1. Creativity and madness are close and they may flow one into the other but at times, they may be quite ruinous. The Quickening Maze is a brilliant analysis of human creative consciousness.‘May I ask you, what is your opinion of Lord Byron’s poetry?’He did indeed raise both eyebrows at that, blowing long cones of smoke from his nostrils. He answered quite wonderfully with a revelation.‘A very great deal. His poetry, well…’ Here he perhaps decided against a critical disquisition. She th [...]

    2. This is not a dazzling, overwhelmingly entertaining sort of book, but rather one that works its magic quietly 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 [...]

    3. Read it? I translated this book to arabic, means, I kept doing nothing for 4 months apart from reading this wonderful and fine wriiten novel.Thanks Adam Foulds

    4. 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 Quickening 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 [...]

    5. This very interesting novel covers several years in the lives of the owners and inmates of an asylum for the insane in England in the 1840s.It 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 horrific.The setting itself is a characte [...]

    6. Step away from this book. Seriously, just put it down and walk away. Forget what you'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 later.It's not that it's badly written. In fact it's quite well written although if you are judging by some reviews you'll read you might be forgiven for expecting a lot more. But it's not bad.What it is, is pointless. It's a neatly delivered pointless interlude. There is no heart to the sto [...]

    7. 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 insane?Rather, it’s a story of despair, of balancing and swaying on that thin line between sani [...]

    8. Okay, some people are going to love this novelI think that they are the same people who loved 'The Gathering' by Anne Enright. If you like poetry and literature that is on the crazy disjointed end of the spectrum this might be your cup of tea, sadly it was not mine.This is one of those books that you think you 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 you get into it you see that it's the other kin [...]

    9. I was attracted by the idea of this book - essentially about John Clare one of my favourite poets, set in the asylum period which could prove interesting and written by Adam Foulds, a poet of considerable merit in his own right. So, a book to relish and enjoy. Anyone who is conversant with Clare's work and life, knows the beauty of his poetry and the horridness of his rejections and the absurdity and difficulties of his time locked away. I thought this book would add to my knowledge and possibly [...]

    10. A library book which I will buy and re-read with pleasure. Told in a series of vignettes, some only a paragraph or two long, others virtual short stories, spaced over a period of less than two years. We are introduced early to the main characters--the Allen family (father, mother, three daughters and son) who run an asylum for the insane in mid nineteenth century England. Their patients include the neglected nature poet John Clare, a visionary mystic named Margaret, and Septimus Tennyson, the br [...]

    11. Adam Foulds possesses a very fine writing style, and that is the high point of this book. The plot and subplots are also engaging, and the sundry characters, based on real people, are winning. The story centers on John Clare, the earthy English “peasant poet,” and his stay at an insane asylum run by Matthew Allen, a doctor/industrialist. Allen’s daughter Hannah is also a character we spend time with, as is the poet Alfred Tennyson, who resides near the asylum to be near his brother Septimu [...]

    12. Somewhere toward the end of this inventive and imaginative novel, peasant nature poet John Clare muses about "the maze of a life with no way out, paths taken, places been."In reality -- and much of this book IS based on reality -- each of the characters within these pages will enter into a maze -- figuratively, through the twists and turns of diseased minds, and literally, through the winding paths of the nearby forest. Some will escape unscathed and others will never emerge. But all will be alt [...]

    13. “He’d been sent out to pick firewood from the forest, sticks and timbers wrenched loose in the storm. Light met him as he stepped outside, the living day met him with its details, the scuffling blackbird that had its nest in their apple tree. Walking towards the woods, the heath, beckoning away. Undulations of yellow gorse rasped softly in the breeze. It stretched off onto unknown solitudes.He was a village boy and he knew certain things, He thought that the edge of the world was a day’s w [...]

    14. Adam Foulds is a terrific writer. I read an article by him on how to write description and it was so brilliant that I immediately bought this novel.I'm not going to share the article with you because if you read it you will instantly be able to write brilliant descriptions in your novels and that would give me too much competition while my own career is floundering.Oh, all right, then. You've twisted my arm. You're right. Novel writing shouldn't be competitive. We should all help each other to b [...]

    15. This book is all about the writing style, so beautiful it draws you in straight away. My favourite passages include;Our introduction to the mentally ill poet John Clare, the most poignantly presented character in the book;He lifted the blanket, swung his softening white feet onto the clean wood floor, and stood up, and immediately wanted to lie back down again and not lie back down again and go and not go anywhere and not be there and be home.The completeness of this metaphorMatthew Allen's powe [...]

    16. The Booker Prize 2009 disappointed me with its runaway winner, but per my star allocations, The Quickening Maze ran circles around Wolf Halld in doing so took much less time.Here is a fragile treatment of Matthew Allen's "insane asylum" during a rough time period when John Clare and a far more widely hailed Alfred Tennyson were both on site, the latter to stay near his troubled brother and not because he was admitted as insane or disturbed himself. It should also be noted that Clare and Tennyso [...]

    17. I met Adam Foulds recently at an arts festival in Kuala Lumpur and was lucky enough to do a workshop with him on creating character. I felt a bit ashamed of myself that I hadn't read this book already (especially as I usually read the Booker shortlist, especially as he agreed to read at the event I organised).I thoroughly enjoyed this novel - the writing was gorgeous, particularly rich in details of the natural world, and had me wanting to reread passages. He has recreated a small slice of histo [...]

    18. Foulds constructs a historical fiction in which characters explore existential possibilities that open and close, trying to break out of the maze that confines them -'the maze of life with no way out, paths taken, places been'. Asylum inmates John Clare and Margaret move in and out of madness, struggling with inner torments and worldly constraints. Mathew Allen, Asylum owner, is drawn by a propensity to gamble into investing his own and other's money in new technology, leading to his economic an [...]

    19. Madness is always an interesting read. This novel is focused on a portion of the life of the "rural" poet, John Clare that was spent in an asylum in Essex in 1830s. John Clare, from humble beginnings, had some success with his early work. However, when the novelty had worn off, this immensely gifted writer experienced isolation and hardship, and finally became insane, spending some of his life in Dr. Matthew Allen's High Beach private asylum.Alfred Lord Tennyson's brother was institutionalize th [...]

    20. How do you even review a book like this. This 'poetic novel' totally defies any literary style I've ever read, and that's saying something. There is such poise and keenness in pace, driving us through the book's metamorphic soaring of the characters, versus themselves, versus a compelling setting, that the build-up and eventual pay-off left me totally satisfied. I'll be the first to admit it, even after finishing this book, I still don't know what it was supposed to be about, there's no visible [...]

    21. نجمة واحدة فقط لشاعرية جون كلير الرواية لم تعجبني مستفادتش منها حاجه ولا حتى كانت مجرد قراءة للمتعة بالعكس ممله وما المتاهة في كل ما قرأت ؟؟ لا أعلم!!

    22. While a quartet of literary gladiators battled for the Booker Prize last year, a young poet sat on the far edge of the shortlist looking on. Nobody thought Adam Foulds had a chance against Hilary Mantel, A.S. Byatt, Sarah Waters or J.M. Coetzee for England's most prestigious literary award. The bookies called "The Quickening Maze" a "rank outsider," and almost everyone bet correctly on Mantel's spectacular story about Thomas Cromwell. But while all the other books on the shortlist were published [...]

    23. A truly surprising book. Every time I picked it up, I thought, why am I reading this? I have no interest in these topics. And then, three hours later, I would put it down. How did I read that book for three hours? I would say. I’m not interested in anything that’s happening in it, which is to say, very little is happening in it. And then I would do the same again. I would find myself rushing up to bed at night to read more of it. Opening it with enormous, if slightly puzzled excitement on th [...]

    24. I've found confusing the amount of characters and the back and forth between them, and kinda hoped something bigger to happened. BUT, it is still a very good book, the descriptions of the forest and the seasons changing is remarkable. It has nice quotes and it made me think about the point of what is truly freedom, which I think is one of the main points of the book.

    25. In this very quiet, very beautiful book Adam Foulds takes a historical moment, replete with well and lesser-known historical personages, and breathes radiant life into it.Foulds takes as his subject the private mental asylum run by Dr Matthew Allen at High Beach, Epping, where in the late 1830s the 'peasant poet' John Clare - by that time already passing out of fashion - is an inmate. Septimus Tennyson - Alfred Tennyson's brother - is a fellow inmate; Tennyson is not yet Lord Tennyson, the Poet [...]

    26. Adam Foulds’s first book of fiction The Truth About These Strange Times garnered very favorable reviews, and won the Betty Trask Award 2007. This second one, The Quickening Maze is just as successful, even more so when it got shortlisted for the Booker.It is a historical fiction, just like his other shortlisted Booker candidate Hilary Mantel’s Wolf Hall. But, unlike it, it is shorter, about a quarter of the length. But, like that booker winner again, the writing is exquisite. Just look at th [...]

    27. The people who hand out Booker prizes love them some historical fiction, but as long as they are of the quality of Thousand Autumns, Wolf Hall, and now this, I don't mind at all. This is definitely one of the more interesting situations: 19th century nature poet John Clare is stuck in a mental institution in England, as another poet moves nearby and becomes invested in the doctor's get-rich schemes (and daughter). The story switches perspectives between some of the other crazy inmates, the docto [...]

    28. I hadn´t read a contemporary novel in a while and I approached this one with excitement. The feeling was enhanced by recently watching the BBC history series "Regency: Elegance and Decadence" and being able to see there John Clare´s family cottage and tomb -typically, not on the side of the church graveyard where he wished it would have been-.This is a sad, bleak story, told in a highly poetic and symbolic style but with -I feel- a lazy structure. If I had only a little time to write a novel, [...]

    29. In this excellent novel recounting the madness of poet John Clare and his stay at the progressive asylum of Dr Matthew Allen; we meet a host of others, the isolated family of Dr. Allen, assorted inmates with a variety of troubles and the poet Alfred Tennyson and his brother, the melancholic Septimus. Though fictionalized the author tells their stories deftly and with deep insight, creating fully realized characters without betraying the actual people on which they are based.The story evolves gen [...]

    30. Foulds, Adam. THE QUICKENING MAZE. (2009). ****. I haven’t come across this English writer before, but the banner on the front of this book told me that it had been a finalist for the Man Booker Prize. That’s enough for me to give it a try. It’s an historical novel about a short period in the life of Tennyson when he has taken his brother to a lunatic asylum on the edge of London. He then takes up residence in a cottage near the institution to be near him. Tennyson himself has his own pro [...]

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