Author: B.S. Johnson
Genre: Experimental fiction
Page Length: 176 pages
Albert Angelo, a novel written by B.S. Johnson and published in 1964, is known for its experimental narrative style and innovative structure. This summary aims to provide a clear and concise account of the book's plot, key characters, themes, and literary significance.
Part 1: Albert
The novel is divided into three parts, each narrated by a character named Albert Angelo at different stages of his life. In the first section, Albert Angelo is a young tutor of architecture at a London-based university. The chapter delves into Albert's intricate descriptions of his daily routines and frustrations as he navigates his unfulfilling profession. The narrative's details also provide an insight into his disillusionment with his own artistic aspirations. Albert's struggle with his job and unrequited love for one of his students, Leonie, takes center stage.
Part 2: Albert Does It Again
In this part, Albert is portrayed as a disillusioned and bitter man working as an architect. The narrative switches between Albert's mundane work and his affair with a married woman named Joyce. The story further explores his feelings of emptiness and alienation, ultimately leading him to question the essence of his existence. The narrative is layered with experimental elements, incorporating typographical playfulness, unconventional formatting, and even a cutout section revealing Albert's internal thoughts.
Part 3: Albert, Poetry, and the City
The final part of the novel follows Albert's journey as he becomes a successful poet and moves to South London. However, this newfound prosperity does not bring him the fulfillment he had hoped for. Albert's disillusionment continues to unravel as he confronts the limitations of his art and questions his place in society. The narrative highlights his struggle to maintain personal relationships and his feelings of isolation as he becomes consumed by his work.
- Albert Angelo: The central protagonist of the novel, an architect turned poet, who grapples with existential angst, disillusionment, and the pursuit of artistic fulfillment.
- Leonie: Albert's love interest and student, representing unrequited love and the aspirations of the younger generation.
- Joyce: A married woman with whom Albert has an affair, embodying the complex dynamics of extramarital relationships.
- Various minor characters such as colleagues, friends, and acquaintances contribute to the development of the plot and reflect different facets of Albert's life.
1. Alienation and Disillusionment: Albert's character epitomizes the pervasive sense of alienation and disillusionment experienced by individuals in modern urban life. The novel delves into his ongoing struggle to find meaning and authenticity in a world that seems void of substance.
2. Artistic Expression and Authenticity: Albert's pursuit of art, specifically architecture and poetry, becomes a vehicle for exploring the theme of artistic authenticity. The novel raises questions about the limitations and paradoxes of creative endeavors, as Albert grapples with the ever-elusive quest for personal and artistic fulfillment.
3. Relationships and Intimacy: The novel explores the intricacies and complexities of human connections, particularly through Albert's romantic involvements. It highlights the challenges of maintaining relationships in the face of societal pressures and individual disillusionment, offering an examination of the human condition.
Albert Angelo is renowned for its experimental narrative structure and unconventional storytelling techniques. Johnson incorporates typography, graphic elements, and fragmented text to challenge traditional novelistic conventions, aiming to create a more authentic representation of the human experience. The novel's exploration of alienation, disillusionment, and authenticity has resonated with readers interested in modernism, postmodernism, and experimental fiction, making it a significant work in the literary canon.
Albert Angelo by B.S. Johnson is an experimental novel that delves into the life of its central character, Albert, as he navigates through disillusionment, artistic aspirations, and the complexities of human relationships. By employing innovative narrative techniques, Johnson challenges traditional storytelling conventions and delves into themes of alienation, artistic authenticity, and intimacy. Albert Angelo's significance lies in its contribution to experimental fiction and its exploration of the challenges faced by individuals in the modern world.