Clairvoyant: The Imagined Life of Lucia Joyce: A Novel

Alison Leslie Gold, Author Hyperion Books $19.95 (158p) ISBN 978-1-56282-986-5
James Joyce's most inscrutable creation may have been his only daughter, Lucia--mad to the world, but a genius to her father. In this haunting work of imaginative reconstruction, Gold (coauthor of Anne Frank Remembered ) renders Lucia as a gifted albeit genuine schizophrenic (first treated by Jung, later institutionalized for 47 years) who was subject to delusions and violent impulses. Her father preferred to consider her clairvoyant rather than insane, and regarded her ``nonsense'' as Delphic wisdom with meaning for a select few. Gold briefly, movingly evokes Lucia's life through a cryptic collage of dreams, flashbacks and hallucinations; through Lucia's compositions, ranging from libretti to memoirs whose prose echoes the rhythms and syntax of her father's; and through the commonsensical asides of her nurse, Mrs. Leary. Although the author asserts that ``No use has been made of medical records or intimate letters that invade family privacy. The course of Miss Joyce's illness after 1935 has been largely imagined.'' Discernible factual details about Joyce's works and family, however, may cause some readers to lose their footing on the trail between fact and fantasy and lead others to wonder about Gold's suggestions of incest and neglect. Though Clairvoyant opens an intriguing window on Lucia's life, more clarity, not more mystery, would have heightened the poignancy of her story. (June)
Reviewed on: 06/01/1992
Release date: 06/01/1992
Genre: Fiction
Paperback - 136 pages - 978-1-938371-11-0
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