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Hangover Square by Patrick Hamilton

  • Tom C. Russ
Summary

Patrick Hamilton's (1904–1962) books are filled with gin and jealousy and depict obsessive desire in oppressive circumstances. His early financial success funded his heavy drinking, but also allowed him to write some of the best fiction of the 20th century. Following a depressive illness towards the end of his short life he never wrote again, leaving his final series of novels unfinished, the villain forever escaping justice. Hangover Square, set on the eve of the Second World War, tells the tense story of a man whose ambivalence for the woman he is pursuing (who has no interest in him) is manifested in two psychological states, between which he flips without warning. In one state he yearns for her, yet in the other has only one purpose – to kill her. Hamilton precisely describes a number of mental symptoms while not convincing readers of the implied diagnosis of schizophrenia. However, the similarities with a late-19th century French fuguer are clear and perhaps this condition provides a better frame for the main character's experiences.

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Copyright
Corresponding author
Dr T. C. Russ, Kennedy Tower, Royal Edinburgh Hospital, Morningside Terrace, Edinburgh EH10 5HF, UK. Email: tc.russ@ed.ac.uk
Footnotes
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Declaration of Interest

None.

Footnotes
References
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Hacking, I (1998) Mad Travelers: Reflections on the Reality of Transient Mental Illness. University of Virginia Press.
Hacking, I (2013) Lost in the forest. London Review of Books, 35: 78.
Hamilton, B (1972) The Light Went Out The Life of Patrick Hamilton by His Brother. Constable.
Hamilton, P (1935) Twenty Thousand Streets Under the Sky: A London Trilogy. Constable.
Hamilton, P (1941) Hangover Square. Constable.
Hamilton, P (1955) The Gorse Trilogy. Constable.
Hamilton, P (unpublished) Memoirs of a Heavy Drinking Man. Harry Ransom Center, University of Texas at Austin.
Segal, H (1957) Notes on symbol formation. International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 38: 391–7.
Shew, ES (1960) A Companion to Murder: A Dictionary of Death by Poison, Death by Shooting, Death by Suffocation and Drowning, Death by the Strangler's Hand, 1900–1950. Cassell.
Woods, A (2011) The Sublime Object Of Psychiatry: Schizophrenia in Clinical and Cultural Theory. Oxford University Press.
World Health Organization (1992) International Classification of Diseases, 10th revision. WHO.
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BJPsych Advances
  • ISSN: 1355-5146
  • EISSN: 1472-1481
  • URL: /core/journals/bjpsych-advances
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Hangover Square by Patrick Hamilton

  • Tom C. Russ
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