Andrew Lanyon & Alastair Brotchie (ed.)


Edited and introduced by Alastair Brotchie.

Circular Walks is a sort-of-novel-with-pictures that recounts the curious history of three characters: Vera, Mervyn and Walter Rowley; and of two locations: Rowley Hall and the Cornish town of St. Ives.

The human protagonists are three members of a family devoted to outlandish experimentation, mostly upon themselves or each other. Vera, the levitating psychoanalyst, explores the effects of geology on thought and language; Walter, a retired vivisectionist, preys on artists in the hope of forcibly curing them of their vile creative habits; meanwhile Mervyn, his father, is busy eradicating his son’s efforts by secretly creating strange cinematic extravaganzas and sculptures disguised as scientific apparatus. Or at least that’s what seems to be happening.

In fact this is an indefinable book in which both text and image are given equal weight. A state of play exists between them, words provoke images and images text, and a literal visualisation of a joyous creativity is brought into being. It’s a tour-de-force that is at once Gothic narrative, philosophical enquiry, comic novel, a eulogy of the tragic history of St. Ives and the Cornish landscape and an eloquent demonstration of the processes underlying its own creation.

Andrew Lanyon has been bringing out the Rowley books in beautiful limited editions for the past 20 years. This selection from the first 12 of them is the first time their remarkable content has been made more generally available. The author is the son of one of the foremost of the St. Ives artists, Peter Lanyon, who was the only one among them to actually come from the town. His son was thus brought up in the strange atmosphere of a fishing village overwhelmed by “high culture”, and his ambivalent feelings about this invasion underpin the narrative.

Atlas Anti-classic 15, there is a signed special edition of this title.

See reviews.

2006, ISBN: 1-900565-35-8, 176pp, paperback in card slipcase.
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Additional information

Weight .36 kg
Dimensions 17 × 19 cm