Life Below Ground

Wendy Lesser, Author Faber & Faber $19.95 (0p) ISBN 978-0-571-12954-6
The underground as a symbol in novels, poems and movies takes many forms, from Dante's hell to moles or double agents in spy thrillers. Lesser, who edits Threepenny Review, notes how frequently Graham Greene's characters have sudden revelations in womb-like hiding places. She sees the underworld in detective fiction as a metaphor for a corrupt society. Whereas Jules Verne's Journey to the Center of the Earth conjured up the labyrinthine possibilities of scientific discovery, for Lewis Carroll, Alice's descent into Wonderland was a means to probe the uneasy connection between body and mind. Ralph Ellison and Richard Wright were influenced by Dostoyevsky's Notes from Underground in their portrayals of blacks as invisible, nameless outsiders. This original, eye-opening study maps uncharted terrain. (November)
Reviewed on: 01/01/1987
Release date: 01/01/1987
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