The Infernal Desire Machines of Doctor Hoffman (Angela Carter)

26 October 2022

The Infernal Desire Machines of Doctor Hoffman

Desiderio, an employee of the city under a bizarre reality attack from Doctor Hoffman's mysterious machines, has fallen in love with Albertina, the Doctor's daughter. But Albertina, a beautiful woman made of glass, seems only to appear to him in his dreams. Meeting on his adventures a host of cannibals, centaurs and acrobats, Desiderio must battle against unreality and the warping of time and space to be with her, as the Doctor reduces Desiderio's city to a chaotic state of emergency - one ridden with madness, crime and sexual excess.

A satirical tale of magic and sex, The Infernal Desire Machinesof Doctor Hoffman is a dazzling quest for truth, love and identity.

Average Rating:

Sinclair Manson (29 October 2022 19:40)

I first read this book about twenty years ago and a few things struck me when I started reading it again. The first was the beauty of the writing. I found myself reading the same sentences over and over in the first chapter, just to enjoy the sound of it. The second thing that struck me was that I had no memory of Dr. Hoffman as a character. I remembered the Count quite clearly and was almost certain that he wasn't Dr. Hoffman, but I had no memory of the doctor himself. On a second reading, I think that is an almost intentional and very striking effect of the way these characters are written. The final thing that crept up on me was the discomfort with which I anticipated reading again the novel's scenes of sexual violence. From the group discussion, I was not the only one discomfited by their unflinching brutality. I would characterise the whole novel as unflinching, as deploying intense, unsentimental honesty. As to what it's all getting at, there is an intimidating density to the ideas in play that it is a delight to pick at. I suspect one could take any page and find enough in it to discuss for an hour or more and come away loving it more for the discussion.