The Strange Case of Mademoiselle P.

Brian O'Doherty


Book, 19.7 x 12.9 cm, 228 p, language: English, publisher: London: Arcadia Books Ltd., ISBN 1-900850-67-2.
Materials: ink, paper

Collection: Collection M HKA, Antwerp (Inv. no. B 2025/541).

Literary synopsis

"In this mysterious and haunting novel of eighteenth-century Vienna Brian O'Doherty takes the reader from the hushed clinic of the controversial physician Dr. Franz Anton Mesmer to the glittering and scheming Habsburg court of Maria Theresa of Austria. The Strange Case of Mademoiselle P. is a book of music, psychology and history, a fictional account of Dr. Mesmer, celebrated for his discovery of animal magnetism, which proved effective in the cure of many illnesses. We find the doctor in his clinic where he has just taken on a new patient, eighteenth-year-old Marie Therese Paradies, who has been blind since the age of three. A gifted pianist, Marie Therese is protected by the patronage of the empress for whom she plays often at court where her father, Josef von Paradies, is imperial secretary. As the thriller-like narrative unfolds through the three voices of Dr. Mesmer, Marie Therese Paradies and Josef von Paradies, a gripping tale of good versus evil, of intrigue in high places, begins to emerge. It is the brilliant Age of the Enlightenment; and we hear the music of Mozart, catch the rustle of silken gowns, and eavesdrop on talk of war and annexation, Benjamin Franklin and Frederick the Great of Prussia, and the crafty foreign minister, Count Kaunitz. The Strange Case of Mademoiselle P. is a triumphant and compelling work, a story flawlessly composed and quietly erotic."

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