Clare Dudman   Clare Dudman

98 REASONS for BEING

Read some Reviews or an Extract
It is 1852 and Dr Heinrich Hoffmann, an historical figure, has recently been appointed to the position of superintendent of the asylum for the insane in the free city of Frankfurt in Germany. What happens over the next few years is the turning point of his life.

Hunter

Until now Dr Hoffmann’s life has been a search for what is important: he has written plays and satirical works; he has been a doctor in a charity hospital; a family physician; a freemason; a lecturer in pathology and anatomy; a politician championing the emancipation of the Frankfurt Jewish population; he has started many clubs and societies and is a supporter of the Arts. But his main claim to fame is as author of a book for children: STRUWWELPETER (SHOCKHEADED PETER) - an illustrated book of cautionary tales he drew and wrote eight years ago for his young son for Christmas when he was unimpressed at what else was on offer.

 
Struwwelpeter
  Dr Heinrich Hoffmann
      Dr Heinrich Hoffmann in 1844 at about the time he wrote STRUWWELPETER. Unknown artist.

This short work has been surprisingly successful;an initial small print ran sold out very quickly and there has been another and another and already it has been translated into English. Since then he has written other things but with much less success and he has decided that writing books for children is not something that particularly satisfies him. He needs to do something more, and also something that pays because keeping a wife and family in the style to which they would all like to become accustomed is a little demanding on his bank balance.

therese_hoffmann
 
Hoffmann's three children
Therese Hoffmann about 1838 around the time she married Heinirch Hoffmann   Hoffmann's three children -Lina, Eduard and Carl Phlipp at around 1852

When the opportunity to become superintendant of the asylum came his way last year he had leapt at the chance. He thought he could comfortably combine it with his fairly profitable private practice. But things have not been that simple. The asylum has turned out to be more absorbing than he had thought, and just recently a new case has been admitted: a young Jewish girl called Hannah Meyer. Although the Jews have never been excluded from entering the town asylum few have been admitted recently because quite unfairly, given the taxes they pay, they are charged more for admission than the rest of the population. Hannah is an interesting case: for months now she has not been eating, sleeping or speaking and Dr Hoffmann is confident that he will find a cure.

Inkey Boys

98 REASONS FOR BEING follows Dr Hoffmann as he struggles to establish a cure for both Hannah and the other 97 patients in his asylum - and the tales from STRUWWELPETER, which have been described by one of Freud’s early followers, Georg Groddeck,as one of the earliest examples of psychoanalystical literature, come to illustrate aspects of his life. As he uncovers the many intolerances of his time and ours (race, insanity, illness, and just being different) so he discovers his own epiphany - his true reasons for being.

Scissors

The characters of the patients and their cures have been developed from interesting case notes from alienists (or early psychiatrists) of the time and reveal that apart from the success in curing mental malady caused by infection we have made relatively little progress in curing insanities in our society.

To read an extract from 98 REASONS FOR BEING please click here


Praise for 98 REASONS FOR BEING

“...compelling... splendidly affecting...strange and stirring...painted in deliberately rough, Bruegel-like images that succeed in suggesting the material distance of provincial Germany of a century and a half ago...”
Richard Eder (winner of Pulitzer prize for criticism) Los Angeles Times July 17th 2005

“... an unsettling, weirdly evocative novel, evidently superbly researched...the novel’s images of the dawn of modern psychiatry and its portrait of doctor and patient struggling together towards the light remain memorably poignant.”
Jon Barnes Times Literary Supplement November 5th 2004

“...disturbing but overwhelmingly compassionate...Her style is cool and measured, her language invariably plain and pared down, creating a sense of emotional intimacy with characters that, nevertheless, remain aloof, rooted in a distant era. Like Andrea Barrett, she exposes the human, often irrational impulse behind scientific exploration without romanticizing it...Rigor, as Clare Dudman proves, is as essential for writers as it is for scientists.”
Anna Mundow The Boston Globe August 21st 2005

“...meticulously researched...(a) clever tale...When Hoffmann tells Hannah about his own troubles, she begins to respond, and together they seem to play a role in the invention of psychoanalysis. There’s a lot to enjoy here, particularly how Hoffmann’s and Hannah’s stories—history and mythology—come crashing together so skillfully.”
Andrew Ervin Washington Post 30th October 2005.

“...mesmerizing italicized interior monologue. While Hoffmann and Hannah are primary, all of the patients and staff at the asylum are exceptionally well drawn, and through them Dudman explores the nature of madness, prejudice, and love... A beautifully written, emotionally powerful biographical novel.
Michele Leber Booklist May 1st 2005

“...Dudman (One Day the Ice Will Reveal All Its Dead) has crafted a compelling tale that skillfully blends fact and fiction, giving her work the ring of verisimilitude. Recommended for public libraries.”
Barbara Love Library Journal 15th June 2005

“...a poignant story based on a real physician. Again using her keen intelligence and deftly economical writing to illustrate an important moment in the history of science, the British Dudman...creates a life for the pioneering psychiatrist Heinrich Hoffmann....Dudman’s artistry matches her historic research, and the combination is very rich.”
Kirkus May1st 2005

“...a meaty read, full of fascinating information layered through the narrative, and a poignant story of love and betrayal, racism and abuse.”
Mary O’Sullivan Sunday Independent February 13th 2005

“...gripping... the plot gradually unravels in a most absorbing manner, clues and hints subtly weaving their way into the book…a new voice in original entertaining and challenging fiction.”
Cathryn Scott The Big Issue August 23rd 2004.

“...quietly compelling... she has a poet’s eye for beauty and a gift for physical description....98 Reasons for Being has its own stubborn weight and mass. Dudman is self-confident enough to take her time. Page by page, the novel accumulates... it is not easily forgotten.”
Mary Carole McCauley Chicago Tribune August 26th 2005

“...(An) interesting, elegant tale…in particular about Germany, Judaism and madness.”
Jessica Mann The Sunday Telegraph August 22nd 2004.

“...(Hoffmann’s) relationship with Hannah is ambiguous to the last; it warms the clammy halls of this finely wrought yet strangely elliptical book...”
Scott Brown Entertainment Weekly 15th July 2005

“...The writing – which is of the calibre of an Atwood – is driven along with the flash, snap and crackle you’d expect from Sarah Waters. This is clever, audacious fiction, writing with heart and soul that isn’t afraid to get you thinking. ... Like TC Boyle’s Riven Rock this is lesser known history reimagined in a thrilling fashion. And, as such, it comes highly recommended.”
‘ Stoop’ Bookmunch December 2005

“…Mounting excitement brilliantly planned...I feel this to be a lovely, faultless piece of fiction.”
Joan Stockdale. New Writer January 2005

“...a deeply thoughtful novel, beautifully constructed, written with clarity and understanding of the human situation...(a) tale of love, prejudice and transgression with themes set more than 150 years ago proving as vital and relevant as they would today.”
Jim Howie Chester Chronicle September 10th 2004

“...98 Reasons can be read as a straightforward examination of the birth of modern psychiatry, or as a complex study of the human condition.  Either way it is exceptionally poignant.”
Sara Wilson Historical Novels Review August 2005

“...a driven novel....”
Charmaine Chan South China Morning Post June 26th 2005

“...Hannah’s illness is evoked very well in passages of lyrical, disjointed prose...”
Chris Power The Times May 21st 2004

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