Diversion and Disfigurement: Reading Dan Billany (Deceased)



In this essay I discuss the disfigured and rupturing internal structures of the two posthumous novels of Dan Billany (1913-1943), The Cage (1949) and The Trap (1950). Written, but never completed, while Billany was interned in a POW camp in Italy, they were put together and published as books from a mess of personal papers long after their author had died. Each novel offers a searching examination of both the author function and the reader function. I suggest that their publishing history is a critical background against which the texts signify, and that the processes by which these novels coagulated from scraps of fiction and personal documents into "novels" generate layered permutations of textual meaning. I conclude by exploring the problematic effects of texts which, in terms of "truth-value," lead the reader through myriad text-world layers to a sense of irreconcilable fragmentation.


Dan Billanyexperimental novelBritish fictionpublication historyreader receptionavant-garde
  • Year: 2021
  • Volume: 7 Issue: 1
  • Page/Article: 104-129
  • DOI: 10.57009/am.92
  • Submitted on 29 Mar 2019
  • Published on 29 Nov 2019
  • Peer Reviewed