Introduction by Claire-Louise Bennett
Ann Quin’s third novel Passages – an instant classic when published in 1969 – is perhaps her most harrowing investigation of the limits of identity and desire, as well as the possibilities of fiction. It is the story of a woman, accompanied by her lover, searching for her lost brother, who may have been a revolutionary, and who may have been tortured, imprisoned or killed. Roving a Mediterranean landscape, they live out their entangled existences, reluctant to give up, yet afraid of where their search will lead.
In ‘passages’ that alternate between the two protagonists’ perspectives, taking the form of diary excerpts, annotations and Burroughsian cut-ups, this fractured tale builds an intricate, musical system of theme and repetition. ‘All seasons passed through before the pattern formed, collected in parts.’
Erotic and terrifying by turns, Quin’s third novel allowed her writing freer rein than ever before, blazing a trail still being followed by such authors as Eimear McBride, Chris Kraus and Anna Burns. It stands as Quin’s most beguiling, poetic, and mysterious work.Read an Excerpt
About the Book
- Claire-Louise Bennett’s introduction was excerpted in the Time Literary Supplement.
‘Passages stirred up a certain kind of curiosity that I hadn’t felt kindling in me for so long. It’s difficult to describe – it’s almost like the omnipotent curiosity one burns with as an adolescent – sexual, solipsistic, melancholic, fierce, hungry, languorous – and without limit.’
'To read Passages is to look down through clear water. It's absolutely lucid and blindingly reflective. It moves and you don't know how deep it goes. Perhaps there's a body down there. Perhaps it's your own.'
‘Quin’s strangest novel and an absolute delight. A seductive blend of Samuel Beckett, Pauline Réage and pure madness.’