The Green Child


Herbert Read

Contributors: Eliot Weinberger, Kenneth Rexroth

A visionary masterpiece filled with quicksand portals, revolutionary dictators, and subterranean worlds

The Green Child is the only novel by Herbert Read — the famous English poet, anarchist, and literary critic. First published by New Directions in 1948, it remains a singular work of bewildering imagination and radiance. The author
considered it a philosophical fable akin to Plato’s cave. 

Olivero, the former dictator of a South American country, has returned to his native England after faking his own assassination. On a walk he sees, through a cottage window, a green-skinned young girl tied to a chair. He watches in horror as a man forces the girl to drink lamb’s blood from a cup. Olivero rescues the child, and she leads him into unknown realms.

More Praise…

“Here Read conveys the private sense of glory, the same sense of glory that impelled Christian writers to picture the City of God.”

— Graham Greene

“A mesmerizing novel that resists categorization and simplification. ”

— Lincoln Michel, Tin House

“If you want to imagine what it would be like to exist beyond desire, beyond loneliness, and even beyond identity, The Green Child is the book to read.”

— Noel Perrin, The Washington Post

“Dwelling in some mysterious Bermuda Triangle between Kenneth Grahame, Adolfo Bioy Casares, and a Max Ernst collage, Read's philosophical fugue-novel The Green Child achieves the sublimity of the waking dream we all occupy, called existence. ”

— Jonathan Lethem

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