Philip Temple


White Shadows, memories of Marienbad

White Shadows, memories of Marienbad

Marienbad, the central European spa resort, is immortalised in the romantic imagination for its legendary doomed love affairs - Goethe and Ulrike von Levetzow, Chopin and Marie Wodzinska, Edward VII and Mizzi Pistl, Franz Kafka and Felice Bauer.

In a Marienbad winter, within its ambience of history and allusion, theatre and illusion, a modern pair of lovers look for the cure that eluded all their famous precursors. Echoing the déjà vu of Alain Resnais' classic movie Last Year at Marienbad, they track the pristine forest snows in pursuit of answers to questions that all lovers have sought throughout history. Mysterious and evocative, tantalising and erotic, White Shadows explores the qualities of love and obsession.

White Shadows is enormously satisfying; a beautiful mood piece perfectly evoking the aimless existence of those who seek but never seem to be satisfied, in a town with ever-present reminders that death and decay lie in wait for the seekers. Otago Daily Times

White Shadows reminds me of the serious, thought-provoking work of German author Herman Hesse. The one note of caution offered is not critical. Don’t expect light and romantic - but as something that requires deliberation, White Shadows is a joy. Herald on Sunday.

How this Liebeskrise is thrashed out and in what manner of telling: how history and place--the imagination of place and the place of the imagination--; and time as memory, where memoir is stepping back to meet up with oneself stepping toward; and how when psyche is wounded and adrift the world inner and outer becomes a relationship where the eros of body and sexual impulse become the principal agonists--and all subject to the erotic imaginal: ... are some of the fictional signs that make White Shadows such an eminently readable, and provocatively engaging novel. Michael Harlow in Landfall.

Paperback: 190 pages (including images). Publisher: Vintage 2005.

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