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A Voice Through a Cloud Hardcover – 16 Jun 2004

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 229 pages
  • Publisher: Enitharmon Press; New edition edition (16 Jun. 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1904634060
  • ISBN-13: 978-1904634065
  • Product Dimensions: 12.7 x 2.4 x 21.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 526,272 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

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."

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.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By I. Brzozowski on 8 Jan. 2009
Format: Paperback
Beginning with an ill-fated bicycle ride from his student digs in Greenwich to Surrey, this autobiographical novel tells the detailed account of Welch's slow convalescence after a motorist hit his bicycle for no apparent reason on a quiet, straight road one Whitsun holiday. The extremely intense, introspective, almost psychedelic description and observation is surprisingly compelling and often very funny, as we drift from place to place, develop odd obsessions and friendships and try to find direction in a strange, compromised new world. Welch's accident took place when he was 20, and an art student at Goldsmiths. He died at 33 as a result of complications arising from a fractured spine, before he was able to complete this book. Read this and see why Burroughs said "When asked what writer has most directly influenced my own work I can answer without hesitation: Denton Welch. Welch makes the reader aware of the magic that is right under his eyes".
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18 of 19 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 16 Feb. 1998
Format: Paperback
Denton Welch was crippled in a bicycle accident when he was 19. This book recounts his experience of the accident and his long, slow struggle to recover. Although presented as fiction,all of Welch's work is closely autobiographical (although the names are changed). The opening of the book, which depicts the horror of serious injury, is unforgettable. The catheters, the sequence of operations, the excruciating pain and the loneliness of his convalesence, everything is described with almost uncanny accuracy. The later sections of the book, which are concerned with his slow- and partial- recovery are perhaps less succesful, and the reader's mind wanders. Here, he describes his relationships with his fellow patients, doctors and the nursing staff, and well as his occassional visitors (his mother was dead, and his father in China). A Voice Through A Cloud is undoubtedly Welch's darkest book- he wrote it as his condition once again was deterioating- and in the eyes of some, it is his masterpiece. Personally, I enjoyed his Journals more, and perhaps also Maiden Voyage, his first book. However, he is an under-rated writer, and I hope it will not be long before all his books are once again in print- this is the least he deserves.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Benjamin TOP 500 REVIEWER on 2 Feb. 2012
Format: Paperback
Denton Welch starts this account when as a teenager he is on his fateful cycle ride one June to visit his aunt, the ride that will leave him in hospital and care into the next year. Denton recreates the torment and isolation and at times loss of hope that was to plague him through this time, along with the few glimmers of hope and the few individuals who would help him see a way out of his nightmare.

This is an account of far more than an accident and its consequences; Denton's remarkable ability to express his feelings, his acute powers of observation and his great talent as a writer make this a living and thoroughly convincing record of a young man's life turned in its head.

This is a book that I cannot recommend too highly, the combination of its outspoken honesty and the brilliance of the writing make it irresistible. It ends rather abruptly, understandable given that the author was struggling to finish this before untimely death was to claim him.
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Format: Paperback
A Voice Through a Cloud

Denton Welch's novels, reissued in Penguin in the 1960s, are transparently autobiographical. Nevertheless his writing has a strange power and immediacy. He is a perceptive neurotic, 'a born writer' as Edith Sitwell put it, always struggling against what he perceives as a hostile world.

A Voice Through A Cloud tells of the end his youth as an art student, a time when he was knocked off his bicycle and suffered horrendous injuries, which in the end proved fatal. In his convalescence he wrote and drew, going back to his earlier life. In Youth is Pleasure, a collection of short stories, portrays a reclusive sensitive youth bemused by an ugly insensitive world.

Welch, the quintessential outsider, at times reminds me of the hero of Hunger, even of K in Kafka's The Trial.

I was pleased to find hie was much appreciated by Alan Bennett in his autobiography. A bicycle in the hedge, Bennett suggests, would be a perfect title for Welch.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Although this last novel by Denton Welch was not quite finished at the time of his early death at the age of only 31, it still ranks as an outstanding and uncommonly brilliant literary achievement. The interior life with all its inconsistencies, pain and idiosyncrasies is laid bare in lucid prose, often startling in its originality and authenticity. I simply could not put it down but at the same time I wanted to read it very slowly to savor its extraordinary qualities. The central character's voice is his own voice and both have suffered being cast as an outsider through accident and disability. However, even before his accident the character was an observer of life and something of a man apart. The piercing nature of the self analysis is almost breathtaking. Anyone with love of literature and fine writing should not miss reading this book. It is quite extraordinary.
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