A. E. Ellis

The Rack
  • The Rack

  • THE REDISCOVERED BRITISH MASTERPIECE

    'Consider yourself an experiment of the gods in what a man can endure...'

    Paul Davenant, has arrived at a sanatorium in the Swiss Alps with hopes of a full cure and a normal life. But as the weeks and months pass interminably by, he undergoes endless tests and medical procedures, each more horrific and dehumanizing than the last, all the while facing the possibility that his case may be hopeless. Despite the pain, indignity, and tediousness, Davenant never loses sight of the outrageous, farcical side to his situation, the absurdity of it all. And when he falls in love with a fellow patient, he becomes determined to recover his health.

    Will he succeed, or will all the tortures he has endured have been for nothing?

    When The Rack was first published in 1958, the critical acclaim was universal: reviewers compared it with the works of Proust, Mann, and Camus and declared it a masterwork destined to take its place among the great novels of the 20th century. This edition will reclaim its status.

    PRAISE FOR THE RACK

    'I distrust anything deemed a cult classic, often a polite term for a book no one enjoys. But this very moving novel set in a TB sanatorium in Switzerland delivers gruelling descriptions of primitive treatments and a powerful love story' Sebastian Faulks

    'There are certain books we call great for want of a better term, that rise like monuments above the cemeteries of literature: Clarissa Harlowe, Great Expectations, Ulysses. The Rack to my mind is one of this company' Graham Greene

    'Quite possibly a masterpiece' Irish Times

    'Book of the year if there ever was one' V. S. Pritchett, New Statesman

    'A work of sombre power, of soaring comedy' Cyril Connolly, Sunday Times

A.E. Ellis was the pseudonym used by British novelist and playwright Derek Lindsay, who was born in 1920. After serving as a captain in the Second World War, he returned to England to study at the University of Oxford. After his diagnosis of tuberculosis, Lindsay was treated for some years at a sanatorium in the French Alps, one of the last to undergo this type of therapy. His experiences there were to form a backdrop for his first and only novel, The Rack, which was published in 1958. The novel was met with high acclaim critical acclaim, with The Irish Times describing it as "quite possibly a masterpiece". Many fellow authors also praised the work, with Graham Greene writing: "there are certain books we call great for want of a better term, that rise like monuments above the cemeteries of literature: Clarissa Harlowe, Great Expectations, Ulysses. The Rack to my mind is one of this company." Lindsay never published another novel, though he did pen two plays, Grand Manouevres (1974) and Seagull Rising (1977).

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