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Nicholas Mosley: Impossible Object

An impossible object is one of those objects that looks correct in two dimensions but cannot work in three dimensions, as in an Escher drawing. Mosley explains this in the final piece and goes on to say The object is that life is impossible; one cuts out fabrication and creates reality. A mirror is held to the back of the head and one’s hand has to move the opposite way from what was intended. Indeed, the final very short story of a woodcutter who is really a magician and a princess who is really a witch, who become entangled in an awkward way, as men and women do in real life, according to Mosley (whose marriage was breaking up at the time) and which ends up being a dance performance, sums up Mosley’s rather cynical view of men/women relationships in this book.

The book consists of eight separate stories, interspersed with small fables in italics. All but one of the stories have an I narrator but not the same one throughout. All but the last one are narrated by a man. They are seemingly connected, with some characters appearing in more than one story and some themes recurring. Some of the narrators are married and the story is about some aspect of their marriage while, in the other ones, the narrator looks at the marriage/relationship of another couple. Naturally, none of the relationships is perfect, with problems ranging from infidelity to just plain boredom with one another. Yet, somehow, Mosley makes all the stories (and their not always obvious) connections fascinating, like looking in at relationships you probably should not look into but in which you have a somewhat prurient interest. If you are looking for a happy message about how to survive love and marriage, this is not the book, but it is still well worth reading.

Publishing history

First published 1968 by Hodder & Stoughton