For the first time in English, a contemporary and friend of Virginia Woolf and Stefan Zweig gives us the definitive portrait of a woman lost on the margins of modern life.Aloisia Schmidt is an ordinary secretary with a burning question: am I a redundant human being? She’s neither pretty nor ugly (though she wishes she were hideous: at least that would be something), has no imagination, and is forced to live vicariously through “borrowed” fantasy—fantasy, that is, borrowed from books, plays, even other people’s lives. She loves to hate herself, and loves for other people to hate her too. In one final, guilt-ridden, masturbatory, self-obsessed confession, Aloisia indulges her masochistic tendencies to the fullest, putting her entire life on trial, and trying, through telling her story (a story, she assures us, that’s “so laughably mundane” it’s really no story at all), to transform an ordinary life into something extraordinary.
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