A Voice Through a Cloud (King Penguin)

 
9780140066920: A Voice Through a Cloud (King Penguin)

A Voice through a Cloud is English novelist Denton Welch's moving account of his recovery from a bicycling accident that left him partially paralyzed at the age of 20. Espouser of picnics and bicycle rides, cataloger of exquisite textures, pitiless surgeon of affect and mores, and also a pretty good painter, Denton Welch has drawn fans as far removed from his world of English pastoralism as William Burroughs and Richard Hell. Characterized by Welch's mercilessly acute powers of observation, A Voice Through a Cloud is a tour-de-force of both rigorous, detached self-analysis and clear-eyed external description, as Welch lies in a hospital bed, struggling with his illness and his relationships with family and doctor. Completed as Welch was dying 13 years later from complications resulting from the accident, and first published in 1950, A Voice through a Cloud's pristine prose sparkles with gleaming surfaces, human motivations clearly perceived and a steadiness of tone and register. While In Youth Is Pleasure is probably Welch's best-loved book, and Maiden Voyage his most scandalous, A Voice through a Cloud is his masterpiece, containing his most accomplished writing.

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About the Author:

Denton Welch was born on 29 March 1915 in Shanghai, the youngest of three brothers. Welch was sent back to England to attend St Michael's prep school in Uckfield, and then Repton School, where his main achievements were in art. Soon after his sixteenth birthday he ran away from school. With his family's approval he enrolled at the Goldsmiths' School of Art in April 1933 to study painting. He showed great promise as an artist but in June 1935, while still a student, he was knocked off his bicycle by a motorist, severely damaging his spine and kidneys; for the rest of his life he was a semi-invalid. Welch settled in Kent, in a succession of rented flats and cottages. His final home was in the village of Crouch, where his faithful friend Eric Oliver cared for him until his premature death on 30 December 1948.

Review:

"Denton Welch is one of those mysterious writers who are always interesting. The more his world is reduced to a hospital room and a handful of human contacts, the more fascinating he becomes. It is the precision of his observations, the fierce but gentle strangeness of his personality or his love of nature that captivates the reader? Like Colette and Jean Rhys, Welch has the power to generate interest out of even the most meagre materials. He had this gift from the beginning but suffering and illness refined it into a white-hot flame."

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Welch, Denton
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