Eight Bells Folly

Anna Louise Merritt, University of Colorado Boulder


“M will be born many times over, always in a solitary space where shadows roll with the sound of waves and the winter is long with night…” And so begins Eight Bells Folly, a poet’s novel inspired by the modernist paintings of Marsden Hartley. Here, the visual and literary arts dance around each other producing a hybrid language that traces the wandering abandon of M and a chorus of voices, which guide him through a world at odds with his contradictory character. Set in the Weimar era, between World Wars, M explores the break down of gender binaries, the disavowal of societal prescriptions, and a quiet slippage into mental illness before a backdrop of fear driven politics and cultural breakdown. The threnody that spirals around and through M attacks each page with bold strokes of desire and an infinite exploration of love, memory, and the self in the deep shadows of inevitable loss.