Justine (Thompson novel)

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First edition
Author Alice Thompson
Cover artist Max Ernst
"The Robing of the Bride" (1940)
Country United Kingdom
Language English
Publisher Canongate Books
Publication date
Media type Print
Pages 135
ISBN 0-86241-603-5

Justine is the debut novel of Scottish author Alice Thompson. Published in 1996 by Canongate Books is was the joint winner of the James Tait Black Memorial Prize that year.

Plot introduction[edit]

Described as a postmodern, feminist variation on Marquis de Sade's book of the same name,[1] it is set in contemporary London where the narrator, an opium-smoking art collector living in Kensington Gardens, becomes obsessed by "Justine", a portrait. Later he sees the woman herself at his mother's funeral, but she disappears and he begins a desperate search for her. He finds her twin sister Juliette who promises to aid him in his increasingly desperate search for her elusive sister...


In The New York Times, Jennifer Kornreich writes, "This successor to the Marquis de Sade's identically titled novel says nothing new about the nature of pleasure and pain. What it more ably accomplishes is a depiction of the ghoulish transformation of a nameless London art collector from creepy predator to humble captive after he meets twin sisters who bear an uncanny likeness to the portrait of his ideal woman" and she concludes "Ultimately, however, he discovers that the dainty object of his unhinged affection is even more depraved than he is. Justine's pseudo-feminist rationale for her cruelty isn't convincing, but it is amusing, particularly when directed toward a narrator whose moral compass, guided by esthetics alone, is so horrible that we can't regret his violent end."[2]


External links[edit]