- Paperback: 224 pages
- Publisher: Penguin Books Ltd; New edition edition (10 Jun. 1994)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0140234012
- ISBN-13: 978-0140234015
- Product Dimensions: 13.5 x 1.6 x 19.7 cm
- Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars See all reviews (21 customer reviews)
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 29,002 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
The Quantity Theory of Insanity Paperback – 10 Jun 1994
Customers Who Bought This Item Also Bought
Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
Very funny and very good, with that unmistakable sign of the genuine comic writer -- Doris Lessing
Will Selfs world is all his own -- Martin Amis --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
From the Publisher
Winner of the 1993 Geoffrey Faber Memorial Prize --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.See all Product Description
What Other Items Do Customers Buy After Viewing This Item?
Top Customer Reviews
Will Self assembled a collection of short stories, all about insanity in one form or the other.
Taken individually, there are here some very well-written stories, from the dark and weird "Ward 9" to the pseudo-cientific and very funny "Quantity Theory of Insanity" or the last end-of-century-philosophy of "Waiting".
But it's when you take the book as a whole that it truly surprises you. I read the opening story and I thought that it was funny, but it seemed more of a prelude than a part of the book, especially when I finished reading the second story, which had a totally different mood. It was only on the third or fourth story that I realised that there was a reference to one of the previous ones. And by the end of the book, even the prelude made sense after all.
Will Self tied all of his stories together, so this doesn't feel like just a collection of stories, if feels like we are looking at another universe, his universe, a cohese and rational universe. Which makes it really thought-provoking - the events are funny, but so real that make you think: are we really like this?
And that's the whole point, I suppose.
A great great book, don't miss it!
But the scientific conceit is the books downfall; Will Self is just too good at the syllable drenched wordiness of Newspeak. We've seen him as a chattering head on the telly often enough to realise that using a parody of philosophy is really just an excuse for him to write in the manner he'd write in anyway. Cattle feed becomes 'farinaceous products aimed at the bipedal market' for one example. It's all entertaining enough to start with, or as part of a vox pop on whatever BBC2 programme he's drifted onto this week, but I don't want my novelists going round the Wrekin all the fucking time. It grates very quickly, because Will Self doesn't have the lyricism in his use of language that say Viv Stanshall had. Self comes across more as a provincial pedant to my ears.
Intellectually stimulating, and full of Self's characterstic wit.
To the reviewer who said "so what?",I don't think there is meant to be a simple unifying message in this book. What you get instead is a series of semi-linked scenarios, each bursting with ingenious observations & thought experiments.
I'm glad I gave it a try, but perhaps it's a little too sophisticated for my reading skills. I won't rule out trying some of his other books as I can recognise he's a very gifted storyteller, but I'd prefer something that's a slightly easier read.
The first Short story is "The North London Book Of The Dead". Weird but somehow mesmerising and ultimately compelling. So I read that one in a few minutes and was desperate to read on. I waited though because I figured I would enjoy the next one more if I went to back to it later.
"Ward 9" is the second part and is my favourite story from the book giving an account of how working with mentally ill patients can start to make you become mentally ill yourself. Told in a way where you actually believe the story to be true. The character of Dr. Zack Busner first comes up here along with other characters who appear familiar simply by excellent discriptive writing.
"Understanding The Ur-Bororo" is the next part. Janner is the main character besides him here and he is a character who comes to life and is central to the story about a dead boring Amazonian tribe which if not in this book would seem utterly ridiculous but instead is quite intriguing.
The title story comes next but in my view is actually the worst part of the book because by this time there is a lot of expert language on the theory itself cropping up and it can become slightly confusing at times. However the charcters here are still very funny and ones already been used in previous stories i.e Zack Busner and Janner.
"Mono Cellular" is wonderfully bizarre with a good ending to what is quite a disturbing story involving a truly enigmatic character indeed. The title of the story says it all about it really.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
A brilliant writer can go on and on about the same subject sometimes but very good BookPublished 24 months ago by charles Doherty
I have only managed to get through just over half this book. It really takes an effort to read. I feel tired even writing about it ..... Pity as I love some of his earlier stuff.Published on 6 Jun. 2014 by Chris Davies
This was a series of short stories. It seemed that in some he was making satirical comments on certain subjects. Read morePublished on 6 May 2014 by Iliad
When a man finds his recently deceased mother window shopping in Crouch End, you begin to realise that Will Self's universe is a very strange place indeed. Read morePublished on 30 July 2010 by G. J. M
A scintillating ambitextual rampage through the guts of post modern pieties and polities too various to enumerate. Read morePublished on 13 May 2009 by Professor Bjorn Hagforth
If Will Self hadn't been a writer, who knows what the hell he would have been? Having read his more recent work, and impressed by his masterful wordsmithery and curious... Read morePublished on 15 Mar. 2008 by Ecossaise
I have seen the usual comments about Self's wordy style and can understand the comment as far as new comers to Self's body of work are concerned. Read morePublished on 15 May 2007 by Andyno_9
The eponymous short in this collection is more brilliant than anything else Self has written since and is more than sufficient to recommend the book as a whole, (although... Read morePublished on 22 Feb. 2004 by Sean Lynch