The Wake and the Manuscript
Forthcoming 2022 Anti-Oedipus Press.
‘Ratchet down all dreams of enlightenment, The Wake is coming for the last of them.’
In this brooding and obsessive novel, Ansgar Allen recounts the story of a nameless man who attends a funerary wake with no other distraction than papers that once belonged to the body on display. The deceased considered the papers to be his magnum opus, a text that unraveled everything he had been educated to accept, beginning with the spectre of religion—namely The Church of Christ, Scientist—and ending with the very fabric of educated, civilized thought.
Allen’s protagonist thinks he’s above the conclusions drawn in the titular manuscript, but the blurred lines between what he reads and what he sees in himself incite an apocalypse of introspection. The result is a dark, labyrinthine attempt to diminish (and eventually annihilate) the memory of the man who came to rest on the table before him.
Literary and existential, The Wake and the Manuscript explores the vagaries of death, identity, desire, and indoctrination as it (un)buries a history of delusion that speaks volumes about the human condition.
Cover detail from Alberegno Jacobello’s Polyptych of the Apocalypse, 1375-97.
And the full spread…
And the fresco depicting Last Judgement at the Basilica of Saint Cecilia in Albi, France, also discussed in the book…
What at first was appearance becomes in the end, almost invariably, the essence and is effective as such. How foolish it would be to suppose that one only needs to point out this origin and this misty shroud of delusion in order to destroy the world that counts for real, so-called “reality”. — Nietzsche, The Gay Science, §58