Pastries and Perversion: To whet your appetite for my upcoming review of one of Frank Tallis’s great mysteries, here are some quotations from his work. He has in less than a decade written six striking psychological thrillers, set in turn-of-the-last-century Vienna. I am going to write in this blog about the fifth novel–fully out in the U.S., i.e. on Kindle as well as in book form–with the U.S. title, ViennaTwilight (UK, the more appropriate title, “Deadly Communion”). Perhaps you’ll also read one of his novels in the meantime, if you haven’t already.
From the Daily Telegraph (London), about ViennaBlood:
The layers of Viennese society are peeled away as delicately as the layers of each mouth-watering Viennese pastry that the portly Rheinhardt makes it his business to devour.
. . . Rheinhardt looked troubled: “Sometimes I wonder whether some minds are so deranged that nothing useful can come out of their study: Krafft-Ebbing’s Psychopathia Sexualis has sold thousands of copies and because it is a scientific work, respectable gentlemen read it without scruple. Yet do they really read those cases—page after page of horror, sickness, and moral degeneracy—to improve their understanding of mental illness? I think not. They read the Psychopathia Sexualis because it is sensational and it arouses in them a dubious prurient excitement (p. 266).
. . .When the cake arrived, a baroque creation festooned with complex embellishments, he [Rheinhardt] was grateful that the cook had not succombed to the culinary equivalent of modernity. The pressure of his fork forced generous applications of chocolate cream to bulge out between the layers of sponge, and when he took the first mouthful of the dobostorte, the sweetness and intensity of the flavor produced in him a feeling of deep satisfaction (p. 114).
Sigmund Freud is a character who appears in all these novels, and in an essay appended to ADeathinVienna , Tallis quotes from Freud’s paper, “Psychoanalysis and the Ascertaining of Truth in Courts of Law:”
In both [psychoanalysis and law) we are concerned with a secret, with something hidden . . . .In the case of the criminal it is a secret which he knows he hides from you, but in the case of the hysteric, it is a secret hidden from himself . . . . The task of the therapeutist, is, however the same as the task of the judge: he must discover the hidden psychic material (p.469).
I hope you will be back to join in the discussion of “Vienna Twilight”