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"A brother is as easily forgotten as an umbrella."--James Joyce, Ulysses
Audrey Death--feminist, socialist and munitions worker at Woolwich Arsenal--falls ill with encephalitis lethargica as the epidemic rages across Europe, killing a third of its victims and condemning a further third to living death.
Under the curious eyes of psychiatrist Dr. Zack Busner, assumed mental patient Audrey Death lies supine in bed above a spring grotto that she has made every one of the forty-nine years she has resided in Friern Mental Hospital.
Now retired, Dr. Busner travels waywardly across North London in search of the truth about that tumultuous summer when he awoke the post-encephalitic patients under his care using a new and powerful drug.
Weaving together a dense tapestry of consciousness and lived life across an entire century, in his latest and most ambitious novel, Will Self takes up the challenge of Modernism and reveals how it--and it alone--can unravel new and unsettling truths about our world and how it came to be.