December 15th, 2009

Lavondyss: Robert Holdstock

You could spend a long time unpicking this book and putting it back together again. It's a complicated, confusing piece of handicraft- with its incestuous characters, its Jungian mysticism, its cod science. But there's no nonsense about our heroine- not a trace of sentimentality anywhere- and the reconstructions of prehistoric society that nestle at its heart are brilliantly convincing. I wish to exhibit it alongside Alan Garner's books and the poetry of Ted Hughes in an argument about how the coming of age of archaeology and ethnography in the 1930s opened the way to a late romantic aesthetic of wodwos, totems and eye-pecking crows in which the artist was shamanic and Nature a cruel mother.