- special bonus book cover -
Europe After The Rain
John Calder, London, 1965
price: 11/6 (40p); 128 pages
The blurb on the back:
Europe After The Rain is a disturbing book, a creation and, no doubt for many people, a re-creation of the nightmare of utter devastation, of hope, of complete disillusionment and of re-affirmation. The author has taken his title from a painting by Max Ernst but the connection between the two works is far more complex. The painting prophetically depicts a vision of rampant destruction close to that which has become a terrifying reality in modern times. Alan Burns, taking the theme to its logical conclusion, shows man not merely trying to come to terms with desolation but combating human cruelty with that resilience of spirit without which survival, both physical and moral, would be impossible.
The narrator is engaged in an arduous search for a girl. The 'Europe' through which he travels is a devastated world, twisted and misshapen both geographically and morally. Life and death are curiously intermingled with fear the motive force of men and women expressed through a cupidity and violence which takes on much more than a physical significance. The narrator brings an interested apathy to the horrific events he is forced to witness but never succumbs to complete despair or an easy cynicism. The book ends with a profound experience in love but the initial vision, original and deeply personal, is never marred by sentimentality.
Alan Burns has succeeded in presenting a picture of his age, has captured with disturbing realism what well may be the 'collective unconscious' of the twentieth century. And he has done this in a language that can have few rivals for economy, beauty and rhythm. His austere sentences glow with intelligence, colour and force.
"... a writer of real originality and horrifying imaginative power, a writer to be watched, a writer to be read ... the whole effect being bare, clipped, stripped, staccato, superbly abrupt. 1 got the impression of a colossal book, another "War and Peace", boiled down and boiled down until only the bones, the essence, the heart remain ... This is a nerve-wracking book, ghoulishly successful in touching the reader where it hurts." The Scotsman
"Everyone interested in literary experiment should read Europe After the Rain. It is unique." Financial Times
"... a remarkable achievement." Queen
". . . the unforgettable immediacy of a nightmare ... His experiment works and out of his brazen chaos emerges a still small human voice." Irish Times