The Asylum of Dr. Caligari
The infamous Dr. Caligari: psychiatrist or psychopath? In this wry and satiric tour de force, award-winning author James Morrow (Towing Jehovah, The Last Witchfinder) offers a surprising and provocative take on a silent film classic.In the summer of 1914, the world teeters on the brink of the Great War. An American painter, Francis Wyndham, is hired to provide art therapy at a renowned European asylum, working under the auspices of its mysterious director, Alessandro Caligari. Francis is soon beguiled by his most talented student, Ilona Wessels, whose genius with a brush is matched only by the erotic intensity of her madness.Deep in his secret studio, Dr. Caligari, rumored to be a sorcerer, struggles to create Ecstatic Wisdom, an immense painting so hypnotic it can incite entire regiments to rush headlong into battle. Once Francis and Ilona grasp Caligari’s scheme in all its supernatural audacity, they conspire to defeat him with a magical work of their own...

The Asylum of Dr. Caligari Details

TitleThe Asylum of Dr. Caligari
Author
FormatPaperback
ReleaseJun 13th, 2017
PublisherTachyon Publications
ISBN1616962658
ISBN-139781616962654
Number of pages192 pages
Rating
GenreFantasy, Horror, Fiction, Historical

The Asylum of Dr. Caligari Review

  • Gary
    June 15, 2017
    3.5 StarsJames Morrow’s new novella recasts the infamous villain of Robert Weine’s 1920 horror film The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari as a psychiatrist (and contemporary rival of Freud) running his own asylum in Germany at the dawn of World War I. The hero of the story is Francis Wyndham, an American expat trying to make a living as a painter in Europe. Wyndham accepts a position as an “art therapist” at Caligari’s asylum, where he discovers that Caligari is also a sorcerer who uses magic to great suc 3.5 StarsJames Morrow’s new novella recasts the infamous villain of Robert Weine’s 1920 horror film The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari as a psychiatrist (and contemporary rival of Freud) running his own asylum in Germany at the dawn of World War I. The hero of the story is Francis Wyndham, an American expat trying to make a living as a painter in Europe. Wyndham accepts a position as an “art therapist” at Caligari’s asylum, where he discovers that Caligari is also a sorcerer who uses magic to great success as a war profiteer. Wyndham also falls in love with one of his patients, Ilona Wessels, who has a gift for sorcery to rival Caligari’s.Weine’s film has always been read an allegory for Germany’s war lust and its attraction to tyranny, and Morrow literalizes the metaphor in his prequel-ish treatment of the character. Despite the novella’s dark themes and often brutal violence, its tone has more in common with screwball romantic comedies (recalling the films of another German-born director of that time, Ernst Lubitsch) than the oppressive horror of its source text. The verbal sparring and rib-poking pastiche are fun to read, but the characters all feel like they are participating in a prankish vaudeville act, and there is little to engage beneath the surface.Film history buffs, art history buffs, and history buffs in general will find much to enjoy in Morrow’s slightly surreal mash-up. I had a reasonably good time reading it, but found it a little disappointing that a story with such weighty themes felt a little too light to the touch.Thanks to Netgalley and Tachyon Publications for the opportunity to read this ARC.
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  • Lena♥Ribka
    March 24, 2017
    DNF at 49%Sorry. But it is the first time in my life when I feel to be stupid for a fictional book.THAT makes me feel even worse.To your information - the writing is superb. The plot....too complicated for my small brain. Sorry.**Copy provided by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review**
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  • Tim
    May 10, 2017
    Most people probably don't start pondering the power of art after seeing the classic German silent film The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari . But then author James Morrow isn’t your average person. After all, he spent the 1990s "killing God" in The Godhead Trilogy. A self-described "scientific humanist," Morrow’s last several novels explored the scientific worldview through the perspectives of the struggle between science and superstition in the early 17th century, genetic engineering and ethics, and e Most people probably don't start pondering the power of art after seeing the classic German silent film The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari . But then author James Morrow isn’t your average person. After all, he spent the 1990s "killing God" in The Godhead Trilogy. A self-described "scientific humanist," Morrow’s last several novels explored the scientific worldview through the perspectives of the struggle between science and superstition in the early 17th century, genetic engineering and ethics, and evolutionary theory.With his new book, The Asylum of Dr. Caligari , Morrow unmistakably moves from science to the humanities aspect of the definition of humanist. Morrow, who made 8mm and 16mm films in high school and college, uses the 1920 German silent horror film as inspiration and a foundation for the book. The movie is about a sideshow hypnotist, Dr. Caligari, who uses a somnambulist (Cesare) to commit murder and kidnap the narrator’s fiancee. When the narrator later follows Dr. Caligari, the hypnotist appears to be the director of an insane asylum. While some consider The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari the first true horror film, it’s best known for its visual style, one which has led many to proclaim it the quintessential cinematic example of German Expressionism.The movie’s sets and objects deliberately and bizarrely distort perspective, scale and proportion. Sharp-pointed forms, such as grass that looks like knives, and oblique and curving lines dominate. Streets are narrow and spiraling while buildings and landscapes lean and twist in unusual angles. Some of the landscape is painted on canvas and shadows and streaks of light also are painted directly onto the sets, imbuing the film with a two dimensional aspect. While Dr. Caligari is central to Morrow’s book, The Asylum of Dr. Caligari is built around and focused on the extensive expressionist art motifs in the film. In fact, art is both a centerpiece and the vehicle of the book’s antiwar theme.The story is told from the perspective of American artist Francis Wyndham, whose first name is also that of the film’s narrator. Through him, Morrow introduces art from the outset. Wyndham attends what is known as the Armory Show, a 1913 modern art exhibition in midtown Manhattan that introduced the American public to European avant-garde paintings and sculpture. Wyndham is so enthralled with what he sees there, he ends up setting out for France shortly before the outbreak of World War I. He dreams of being an apprentice to Pablo Picasso, who promptly throws him and his portfolio down a flight of stairs. Wyndham refers to his encounter as “Rube Descending a Staircase,” a takeoff on Marcel Duchamp's “Nude Descending a Staircase,” displayed at the Armory Show. Undeterred, Wyndham seeks out other cubist artists, such as Duchamp, Georges Braque and André Derain. When Wyndham meets Derain, the artist is being mobilized into the French military. He asks Wyndham to undertake Derain’s new position as art therapist at Träumenchen, an insane asylum. Located in the neutral fictional country of Weizenstaat abutting Luxembourg and the German Empire, Träumenchen is run by Dr. Alessandro Caligari. Echoing the film, Caligari is a former sideshow hypnotist and now an alienist who considers Freud a charlatan. Caligari believes hypnosis is the future of psychiatry and all treatment at Träumenchen on is based on the theory of heteropathy, in which a patient’s mental condition is treated by inducing an opposite disorder. (Cesare also resides at the asylum but in Morrow’s tale he is a black cat. Caligari’s sideshow somnambulist here is Conrad Röhrig, now his private secretary.) Caligari also dabbles in painting, completing his magnum opus the night Wyndham arrives. Called "Ecstatic Wisdom" based on a chance remark by Friedrich Nietzsche when he was a patient at Träumenchen, the work is some 30 feet long and 15 feet high. Looking forward to the war’s "aesthetic intensity" and believing it "transcendentally meaningless," Caligari created the painting with alchemical pigments. The alchemy enables "Ecstatic Wisdom" to brainwash men into kreigslust ("war lust"). Here, the book shares a common analysis of The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari: Dr. Caligari represented the militarist German government during World War I and Cesare symbolized how, upon becoming a soldier, the common man is conditioned to kill. Seeing the painting as financial security for his asylum, Caligari charges each warring nation as they send a constant procession of troop trains to Träumenchen. The soldiers march by the painting and afterwards "radiated a boundless desire to find a battle, any battle, and hurl themselves into the maw." This artistic war machine doesn’t just create the fodder. Within a month, the asylum is full of soldiers suffering from shell shock, Throughout, Wyndham is teaching art therapy to a paranoid, a former chess grandmaster constantly narrating classic matches, a man who says he’s traveled the solar system in his private spaceship, and Ilona Wessels, who hails from Holstenwall, the fictional town that is the setting of The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari. She believes she is the Spider Queen of Ogygia, the island in Homer's Odyssey, and she and Wyndham are immediately attracted to each other. Caligari encourages them to live together to provide Wessels "la cura amore" treatment. Knowing of Caligari’s painting and its effect, they form a cabal with other patients and employees to sabotage the scheme.Morrow uses language consistent with a story being told by someone living in that period (‘batwinged incarnations of melancholia, catatonia, paranoia, and dementia praecox swirled all about me"), helping set the book’s narrative tone. A variety of Latin, French and German phrases dot the text so an online translator will aid readers. Likewise, due to the numerous art references, a reader is well-advised to have handy access to art history sources (or even Wikipedia). Surprisingly, though, Morrow’s pursuit of verisimilitude is undercut by either "artistic license" or an error in the first chapter. It has Wyndham meeting artist Henri Rousseau in Paris in the summer of 1914. Rousseau, though, died in September 1910.That aside, the book is generally well-paced through Caligari’s discovery of the cabal, except for the space allotted to depicting the sexual adventures of Wyndham and Wessels. The last third of the book, however, feels a bit rushed and underdeveloped considering the cabal ends up on the Western Front and Wyndham, for example, doesn’t return for a month. The hurried feel is bolstered by the fact the run-up to and the ultimate denouement feel chimerical and even more fantastic than Caligari and his creation.The Asylum of Dr. Caligari is an inventive homage to and extrapolation of concepts in The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari. At less than 200 pages, it’s also a pithy commentary on the power of art and the folly and hysteria of war. Ultimately, though, despite being a thoughtful read, the book does not wholly realize its aims. (Originally posted at A Progressive on the Prairie.)
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  • Vernice
    March 22, 2017
    Received a copy from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.So apparently this book was based on an old school movie, and I must say I could really get that whole vibe. I'll be the first to admit that I'm no old school movie expert. The oldest movie I've seen is probably Casablanca or Gone with the Wind, and while I loved both, they are timeless classics. I've never heard of the mad Dr. Caligari and his asylum... though I must say that I'm intrigued and wouldn't be opposed to a viewing if it Received a copy from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.So apparently this book was based on an old school movie, and I must say I could really get that whole vibe. I'll be the first to admit that I'm no old school movie expert. The oldest movie I've seen is probably Casablanca or Gone with the Wind, and while I loved both, they are timeless classics. I've never heard of the mad Dr. Caligari and his asylum... though I must say that I'm intrigued and wouldn't be opposed to a viewing if it was still available somewhere.I'm not even quite sure how I really feel about this book to be honest. On the one hand, it was a quick and fun read. On the other, it made absolutely no sense and I felt no real connection to the story and the characters. I expect that's due to the length of the book as well as the way it's written. Most of the time I was reading this with a slight frown on my face. But I also quite enjoyed it, so at the end of the day I would settle for a 3 1/2 star here... rounded down to 3 because Goodreads... :/
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  • J Aislynn d'Merricksson
    July 5, 2017
    ***This book was reviewed for the San Francisco and Seattle Book Reviews, and via NetgalleyThe Asylum of Dr Caligari by James Morrow, spun from the 1920s silent film The Cabinet of Dr Caligari, is a commentary on duality- life and death, war and peace, science and art, reason and mysticism, sanity and insanity- and how things are often not as dualistic as first they seem, for they are connected. Like the yin-yang, there is always a bit of one in the totality of the other. Beyond that, it is an a ***This book was reviewed for the San Francisco and Seattle Book Reviews, and via NetgalleyThe Asylum of Dr Caligari by James Morrow, spun from the 1920s silent film The Cabinet of Dr Caligari, is a commentary on duality- life and death, war and peace, science and art, reason and mysticism, sanity and insanity- and how things are often not as dualistic as first they seem, for they are connected. Like the yin-yang, there is always a bit of one in the totality of the other. Beyond that, it is an admonishment against war, the foolishness that starts it, and the lust that fuels it. A young artist, Francis Wyndham, sets off from America, headed to Europe to learn from the masters. Unfortunately, poor Francis cannot find a place as an apprentice, and he begins to need to consider focusing on a trade in order to survive. He is spared from brickmason’s schooling when he is unexpectedly offered a job working as an art therapist for Dr Caligari at his asylum in Weizenstaat. Caligari is a mesmerist and alienist with unconventional methods including sex therapy and heteropathy. Francis accepts and begins teaching four gifted 'lunatics’. On his initial tour, Francis is shown artwork done by his new students, which is held on display at a museum attached to the asylum. Shrouded in one section is a painting Dr Caligari has done. Francis asks about it and is pretty much told to mind his own business. Not only does Francis go back to see the picture, but he takes Ilona, one of his students, with him. What they find defies explanation. Using alchemy, Caligari has created a painting to arouse bloodlust in all who view it. As World War One looms on the horizon, Caligari begins to charge governments, and exposing soldiers to the painting, priming them for fighting. Francis and Ilona have to stop him, but how? Thankfully, Caligari isn't the only paint mystic around. Question is, can they pull off a peace painting to counter the lust for war?This is a satire for the ages, a skillful blending of the history of World War One, and the fantastical realm of alchemy and magic. There's so much going on in this book, philosophy and spiritual-wise. With Caligari, Francis, and Ilona, you have both Creator and Destroyer in each. The art they create can incite intense emotion, and it's a lesson that such power should be handled with care. Art, and creativity itself, in any form is a gift and a chance to give beauty back to the world. Abuse of that gift is tragic. Jedermann is a liminal guardian, and a psychopomp, in a quite literal way for Francis, and for countless soldiers in a more figurative fashion. The wry, tongue-in-cheek amusement of Morrow’s writing reminds me of reading Jonathan Swift's A Modest Proposal many moons ago (and reread a few years past). I'm not a huge fan of satire, but this tale is eminently readable. 📚📚📚📚
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  • Joe Karpierz
    May 15, 2017
    With as much as I enjoyed James Morrow's THE MADONNA AND THE STARSHIP, I looked forward to his latest story, THE ASYLUM OF DR. CALIGARI. The novel is a side-quel/sequel to the 1920 German silent film "The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari. Actually it may not be either a side-quel or a sequel; however we wish to categorize it, Morrow takes the concept of the existence of a Dr. Caligari and an asylum and puts a fantastical twist into the story.The year is 1915. Francis Wyndham, an American painter, finds h With as much as I enjoyed James Morrow's THE MADONNA AND THE STARSHIP, I looked forward to his latest story, THE ASYLUM OF DR. CALIGARI. The novel is a side-quel/sequel to the 1920 German silent film "The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari. Actually it may not be either a side-quel or a sequel; however we wish to categorize it, Morrow takes the concept of the existence of a Dr. Caligari and an asylum and puts a fantastical twist into the story.The year is 1915. Francis Wyndham, an American painter, finds himself traveling to Europe to take a position as an "art therapist" at the famous Traumenchen Asylum, run by Dr. Alessandro Caligari. The asylum is located in the principality of Weizenstaat - which apparently is situated between "the German Empire and the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg". It was also annexed by Luxembourg after World War I in case you're interested (either I missed the connection, or that bit of information doesn't have anything to do with the story other than being a bit of trivia that Morrow throws into the mix just in case some readers decide to go looking for the place and can't find it).The asylum's fame and success was such that "the people of Weizenstaat took to joking that their country's principal import was irrationality and its principal export rehabilitated lunatics" - a line I consider one of the best in the book. Dr. Caligari is rumored to be a sorcerer, and that there is more to him and his asylum than meets the eye. The fact that he is indeed a sorcerer of sorts is the root fantastical element that Morrow injects into the Caligari mythos. And while Caligari does manage to heal mentally ill patients, his main project - and dark secret - is the enchanted painting that he himself is working on in the bowels of the asylum. The painting fills men who view it with something called "Kriegslust", a sort of fanatical desire to go to war for his country without regard to personal safety - or anything else for that matter. The painting is discovered by Wyndham who, with the aid of one of his art therapy students, Spider Queen Ilona Wessels (who quickly becomes his lover with a bit of unnecessary encouragement by Caligari himself), attempt to counter the affect of the piece of art with a work oftheir own. The point of Caligari's painting, of course, is to allow him to make huge sums of money selling its effects to countries that are about to enter the war.Morrow fills the book with a good number of scenes that must have been as fun to write as they were to read: Wyndham and his cohorts watching soldiers of various countries being marched in front of the painting and coming out ready to march to their death for their countries; a similar scene with Wyndham's and Wessel's painting, except with the opposite results; and in a bit of storytelling reminiscent of the scene of Dick Van Dyke's character in Mary Poppins jumping into a painting to do a song and dance, Wyndham and Wessels jump into their painting - with characters there recognizing who Ilona is - to try to stop Caligari's effort.The key word in that paragraph is storytelling. Morrow spins a great yarn in this novella. The writing is excellent, the characters come to life on the page and make us care about them, and there is enough magic, psychology, art and romance to keep most readers engaged and interested. Indeed, Morrow injects a good variety of things to think about, and yet the novella doesn't feel forced when it finally comes to an end - and make no mistake, there is a definite ending here. The ending itself is a bit melancholy; it's almost as if Morrow is showing us that as with any fictional character, those who live in magical paintings can come to an end too. The ending didn't leaveme wanting for more, but it was a satisfying conclusion to the story and the characters therein.We're not looking at a great piece of literature here that will be remembered for decades to come, I think. But what we are talking about is a fun and whimsical story that will keep the reader eagerly turning the pages and being very happy with what they've read. A lot of times, that's all readers really need anyway.
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  • Gabrielle Mathieu
    June 19, 2017
    The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari is a deft little novel, a perfect fit for people who are not just interested in fantasy, but also history, art, geography and linguistics. If you are a man, and appreciate an elegant woman wearing lace and jewelry more than a bronze bikini-clad babe with a vacuous stare, you might also appreciate the work of James Morrow. Like T. Coraghessan Boyle, but with more palatable characters, and less heft, James Morrow draws on actual historical figures in his novel. While t The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari is a deft little novel, a perfect fit for people who are not just interested in fantasy, but also history, art, geography and linguistics. If you are a man, and appreciate an elegant woman wearing lace and jewelry more than a bronze bikini-clad babe with a vacuous stare, you might also appreciate the work of James Morrow. Like T. Coraghessan Boyle, but with more palatable characters, and less heft, James Morrow draws on actual historical figures in his novel. While there was no country of Weizenstaat, which would mean “Wheat State”, there was certainly a Blue period for Pablo Picasso, and a painting by Duchamp called “Nude Descending a Staircase.” As a German speaker, and someone who grew up in an apartment filled with my father’s art books, I got a lot of knowing chuckles out of terms such as “Farbenmensch” which refers to a man who comes to life out of a painting, or the description of Picasso throwing the narrator, an aspiring artist, down the stairs. I would say this is less a fantasy novel, in the usual modern sense, than an allegory about war and the patriotic frenzy that inspires men to lay down their life. Set at the outbreak of World War I, the novel contrasts those who see the true horror of war, including the narrator, a lunatic, and a gay couple, with those who wish to profit from it. It’s clear that Morrow, an elderly gentleman, has strong pacifist leanings which were probably exercised as far back as the Vietnam war. The famous poet Wilfred Owen implied ironically in his anti-war poem “Dulce e Decorum est,” that it was sweet to die for one’s country in the trenches, choking on chlorine gas. That Morrow seems to agree is indicated in passages such as this rant ascribed to Caligari, the villain: “…at long last the architects of the Great War can look back on their many accomplishments: a devastated France, a demoralized Britain, a ransacked Germany, a receiving line of corpses stretching from Armentières to Zanzibar.” The construction of the sentences is often intricate, like the example above. Many phrases are a delight, and I was amused, edified, and illumined. Be aware the pleasures in this book are more to be found in the musings on art, history, and philosophy. The plot is an elegant scaffolding on which to hang these gems of observation. I received a free copy of this book on Net Galley in return for a review
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  • Jeff
    July 1, 2017
    This is a weird surreal adventure at the start of WWI, where Art and Sorcery in a lunatic asylum are used both on the side of good and peace and evil and war.Dr. Caligari sells access to his masterpiece to the highest bidder. A masterpiece painting that compels its viewers into unbridled passion for war. Both sides of the building conflicts are eager to avail themselves of his services. Francis is an artist from America, who comes to the asylum to work as an art therapist. While there, he uncove This is a weird surreal adventure at the start of WWI, where Art and Sorcery in a lunatic asylum are used both on the side of good and peace and evil and war.Dr. Caligari sells access to his masterpiece to the highest bidder. A masterpiece painting that compels its viewers into unbridled passion for war. Both sides of the building conflicts are eager to avail themselves of his services. Francis is an artist from America, who comes to the asylum to work as an art therapist. While there, he uncovers Caligari's plans and endeavors to stop him. With the help of his students, the Spider Queen of Ogygia, the Commander of an Alien Armada, a Grand Chessmaster, and several others, they construct an "antidote" painting to cause the viewer and equally unbridled passion for peace.Its funny, satirical, and poignant. Its a quick read, and I'm not doing it justice, but if you like good witty writing its definitely worth your time."'This morning I learned something marvelous. Never have I hoarded so precious a secret''Pray tell''If I tell, it won't be a secret. If you pray, it will be a waste of time'""Vita Brevis, ars longa" (Life is Short, Art is Forever - to paraphrase the latin)"Only God is flawless," said Ilona. "It's the first thing you'll notice about Him, if he ever gets round to existing"8/10S: 6/20/17 - 6/24/17 (5 Days)
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  • Madeleine D'Este
    July 2, 2017
    Art, love, magic and insanity in an alternative history explanation for the outbreak of WW1. A wannabe American artist, Wyndham, comes to a strange asylum to work as an art therapist after being turned away by every famous artist in Europe. The asylum is run by the strange and magical Dr Caligari, who uses unusual techniques to cure his patients. Wyndham is warned of Caligari's unorthodox methods and the odd goings-on before he accepts the job but he goes ahead regardless. The foolish Wyndham le Art, love, magic and insanity in an alternative history explanation for the outbreak of WW1. A wannabe American artist, Wyndham, comes to a strange asylum to work as an art therapist after being turned away by every famous artist in Europe. The asylum is run by the strange and magical Dr Caligari, who uses unusual techniques to cure his patients. Wyndham is warned of Caligari's unorthodox methods and the odd goings-on before he accepts the job but he goes ahead regardless. The foolish Wyndham learns Caligari is also an artist, working on his own secretive masterpiece, which turns out to be magic woven into art with diabolical intentions.Wyndham with his wild and sensual pupil and lover, Ilona, battle the evil schemes of Dr Caligari while considering magic and the true heart of art. Posing the questions of whether art is good or bad, whether art is forever or merely a transitory creation. Wyndham is foolish, while Ilona is the true hero of the tale, a goddess of her art.Beautifully written and witty, told in the style of the period (think Grand Budapest Hotel), the Asylum of Dr Caligari is sumptuous and thought provoking, as well as good fun.I received an ARC via NetGalley
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  • Rod
    July 6, 2017
    I am a sucker for Morrow's blending of fantasy, theology, philosophy, science, art, into stories that I can't imagine anyone else writing. This one got me to watch "The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari," which I had never seen before (and is a silent movie well worth watching). Quotable quotes amidst the adventure recounted here: "Only God is flawless...It's the first thing you'll notice about Him if he ever gets around to existing."And:"I don't think of divine things as injurious," I said."I don't think I am a sucker for Morrow's blending of fantasy, theology, philosophy, science, art, into stories that I can't imagine anyone else writing. This one got me to watch "The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari," which I had never seen before (and is a silent movie well worth watching). Quotable quotes amidst the adventure recounted here: "Only God is flawless...It's the first thing you'll notice about Him if he ever gets around to existing."And:"I don't think of divine things as injurious," I said."I don't think of them as anything else," said Ilona.And this one about Caligari, that may also apply to our current President:I decided his methods represented neither imagination bereft of intellect, nor revelation applied with logic, but a third phenomenon. He had seduced both forces into a condition of mutual betrayal, reason convincing fantasy that vilent monsters were desirable, fantasy coercing reason into forsaking its tedious allegiance to facts.
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  • Pamela Scott
    March 26, 2017
    I was given an ARC by the publisher and voluntarily reviewed it. I really enjoyed this novella, inspired by the movie The Cabinet of Dr Caligari. I loved the prose style. Morris knows how to tell a story. As I was reading, I was reminded time and again of some horror greats including Dracula and Frankenstein. The novella has that air of old fashioned, spooky, black and white horror movie about it. The relationship between Wyndham and mad Ilona was disturbing. I enjoyed the intense, madness of it I was given an ARC by the publisher and voluntarily reviewed it. I really enjoyed this novella, inspired by the movie The Cabinet of Dr Caligari. I loved the prose style. Morris knows how to tell a story. As I was reading, I was reminded time and again of some horror greats including Dracula and Frankenstein. The novella has that air of old fashioned, spooky, black and white horror movie about it. The relationship between Wyndham and mad Ilona was disturbing. I enjoyed the intense, madness of it all. Dr Caligari was a great villain. I could imagine him, locked away in a dark room, cackling with glee while the world burned around him. I enjoyed the plan Wyndham and his conspirators come up with to stop Caligari’s madness. Their plan was almost as mad as his. I had a good time with The Asylum of Dr Caligari and would recommend it.
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  • Stephen Ormsby
    June 9, 2017
    This is a satirical, clever novel, which is (almost) a sequel of the German silent film “Cabinet of Dr. Caltgari”. Parts of this are so dry it could be made into powder, but the wit stands out that cannot help but enjoy it.There is a madness between the pages that matches the perceived legend of Dr. Caligari, and you can tell that Mr Morrow loves this subject. There is a lot happening throughout this story, but given the pacing of it, it will not take long before the pieces start falling togethe This is a satirical, clever novel, which is (almost) a sequel of the German silent film “Cabinet of Dr. Caltgari”. Parts of this are so dry it could be made into powder, but the wit stands out that cannot help but enjoy it.There is a madness between the pages that matches the perceived legend of Dr. Caligari, and you can tell that Mr Morrow loves this subject. There is a lot happening throughout this story, but given the pacing of it, it will not take long before the pieces start falling together.Superb writing, clever, complex plot and a subject that benefits from this strange story. Even being a small novel, this is a decent read.4 out of 5.
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  • Joe Crowe
    March 7, 2017
    This book is at once a tribute to the horror film and the German silent film about the Cabinet of the doctor of the title, but this one goes further than either of those, into horror, history, art, and psychology. Really, there's a lot to unpack and this book is only 85 pages. It's short, but to the point. That point being: author James Morrow writes well. This is an exercise in character and style. (review from advance copy provided in exchange for honest review. Luckily, this book is awesome.) This book is at once a tribute to the horror film and the German silent film about the Cabinet of the doctor of the title, but this one goes further than either of those, into horror, history, art, and psychology. Really, there's a lot to unpack and this book is only 85 pages. It's short, but to the point. That point being: author James Morrow writes well. This is an exercise in character and style. (review from advance copy provided in exchange for honest review. Luckily, this book is awesome.)
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  • Megan
    May 15, 2017
    [Disclaimer: I received a free e-copy of this book from NetGalley for review purposes.]I don't believe I'm too stupid for this book (some other reviewers have mentioned this book was too "smart" for them and I really don't think that's the case). Rather, I think the book was trying too hard to be something more than it was. There were two shining moments that never turned into more than an image: the marching, singing soldiers in the Caligari painting, and Ilona's wondering if they were doing th [Disclaimer: I received a free e-copy of this book from NetGalley for review purposes.]I don't believe I'm too stupid for this book (some other reviewers have mentioned this book was too "smart" for them and I really don't think that's the case). Rather, I think the book was trying too hard to be something more than it was. There were two shining moments that never turned into more than an image: the marching, singing soldiers in the Caligari painting, and Ilona's wondering if they were doing the same thing Caligari was. Neither went anywhere beyond those flashes in the pan. In the end, I found the book mostly ridiculous.
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  • Jack McDaniel
    June 28, 2017
    James Morrow is very good. I liked this book a lot. The story was excellent. I'm not familiar with the movie this was based off, but that didn't really matter. The concept was fun. It is a fantasy, but the fantasy aspects didn't take over the book.
  • Chrys
    June 12, 2017
    A total disappointment, I really liked some of the ideas and there were moments when it seemed like things would improve.But bloated descriptions and a rambling incoherent plot made for very frustrating reading.
  • Jim
    December 11, 2016
    Topical, Historic, Funny, different. Love Jim Morrow's writing!
  • Andrew
    April 25, 2017
    I received an ARC from the publisher and voluntarily reviewed it.Morrow's latest novella takes the central metaphor of the film history classic, The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, and expands on it with his customary wit and intelligence. The writers of the original German film have been on the record for years about how they intended Caligari to represent the German government "hypnotizing" young men to become murderers, and Morrow's tale takes that conceit to the next level. Ostensibly a sequel to t I received an ARC from the publisher and voluntarily reviewed it.Morrow's latest novella takes the central metaphor of the film history classic, The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, and expands on it with his customary wit and intelligence. The writers of the original German film have been on the record for years about how they intended Caligari to represent the German government "hypnotizing" young men to become murderers, and Morrow's tale takes that conceit to the next level. Ostensibly a sequel to the film (there's mention of Caligari's traveling hypnotism act), this story finds an aspiring American artist, Francis Wyndham, accepting a job at the eponymous asylum as its new art therapist at the outset of WWI. Quickly he discovers that rumors of Caligari's sorcery are true and that he's created a magical painting that fills any male viewer with an insatiable "Kriegslust," a sense of patriotism strong enough to force a man to march headlong into the maw of the war machine.This is not Morrow's strongest book by any measure, but if you enjoy his droll wit and pacifist/rationalist rhetoric, there's a lot to like here. A working knowledge of art history and a solid vocabulary will go a long way toward appreciating the humor throughout this slim volume. It lacks the "theme A + philosophical argument" formula that made The Madonna and the Starship and Shambling Towards Hiroshima so strong, in my opinion, but for fans of his writing, this is still a good, quick read.
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  • Jantine Kampes
    March 31, 2017
    I received a free copy through Netgalley in return for an honest review.This is the kind of book I had to read twice to grasp it, which was a good thing! I thoroughly enjoyed the use of language in it. The POV and way of writing made me think about wether the narrator was completely telling the 'truth', or at least what outsiders would see as truth - there was no doubt about it being his truth.I'll be certain to buy a copy, so that I can reread it more often.
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