Lisa Appignanesi discusses her new book, Everyday Madness: on Grief, Anger, Loss and Love with Adam Phillips.
‘The small translucent bottle of shampoo outlived him. It was the kind you take home from hotels in distant places. For over a year it had sat on the shower shelf where he had left it. I looked at it every day.”
After the death of her partner of thirty-two years, Lisa Appignanesi was thrust into a state striated by rage and superstition in which sanity felt elusive. The dead of prior generations loomed large and haunting. Then, too, the cultural and political moment seemed to collude with her condition: everywhere people were dislocated and angry.
In this electrifying and brave examination of an ordinary enough death and its aftermath, Appignanesi uses all her evocative and analytic powers to scrutinize her own and our society’s experience of grieving, the effects of loss and the potent, mythical space it occupies in our lives.
With searing honesty, lashed by humour, she navigates us onto the terrain of childhood, the way it forms our feelings of love and hate, and steers us towards a less tumultuous version of the everyday.
This book may be short, but life, death, madness, love, and grandchildren, are all there seen through the eyes of a writer who is ever aware of the historical and current vagaries of woman’s condition.
‘Appignanesi luminously conveys the wayward emotions that make bereavement a language that is hard to understand, yet speaks to us every day when we experience a great loss. You will find all of life in this rewarding, scholarly and entertaining conversation about freedom, Freud, fury, enduring love, and how mythic and modern families haunt each other’
‘Wonderful, moving, extraordinary. It is sui generis. I feel enormously privileged to have read it – twice. Its structure is remarkable – an enacting of the last two years. Bravo bravo’
Edmund de Waal
Lisa Appignanesi has been a university lecturer in European Studies and was Chair of the Freud Museum London. Her works of non-fiction include ‘Freud’s Women’ (with John Forrester), a biographical portrait of Simone de Beauvoir, and a history of cabaret. She has edited ‘The Rushdie File’ and a number of books on contemporary culture, as well as producing various films for television. Lisa Appignanesi lives in London with her two children.
Adam Phillips is a practising psychoanalyst and a visiting professor in the English department at the University of York. He writes regularly for the London Review of Books, the Observer and the New York Times, and he is General Editor of the Penguin Modern Classics Freud translations. His most recent book is In Writing and he recently curated an exhibition, The Vulgar: Fashion Redefined, at the Barbican, London.