"Certainly the writer who most directly influenced my work." - William S. Burroughs
A Voice Through A Cloud is Denton Welch's unfinished masterpiece.
Welch, one of the most gifted creative artists of his generation, died in 1948 at the age of thirty-one, leaving this, perhaps his finest work, almost but not quite completed. Under the thin disguise of fiction Welch recreates the world of hospitals and nursing homes in which he spent so many months after the accident which was eventually to prove fatal to him.
The details of daily routine, the fellow patients, the nurses and doctors, the comedies and tragedies which loom so large in the confined existence of the sick, all are described so vividly, with so much humour and pathos, with so accurate a listening ear, so watchful and penetrating an eye, that it is almost impossible to believe that the experience on which it is based was one of long exhausting pain to the author himself, and that book was conceived in pain and carried through with failing physical powers.
"Rapt attention to the aesthetic ... essential." - The Paris Review
"So deliciously subversive, it is enough to make illiteracy a worse social crime than hunger." - John Waters
About the author
Denton Welch (1915-1948) was born in Shanghai in 1915, the youngest of four boys, to a wealthy British-American family. After leaving his English boarding school (Repton), Welch decided to follow his dream of becoming a painter, and studied art at Goldsmiths in London. The physical injuries sustained in a cycling accident in 1935, however, saw him increasingly turn towards a hitherto secondary interest: writing. When Welch's debut, Maiden Voyage, was published in 1942, it was an instant literary sensation ('I have been told that it reeks of homosexuality,' wrote Winston Churchill's secretary; 'I think I must get it'). This was followed by In Youth Is Pleasure in 1945 and, after his premature death from spinal tuberculosis in 1948, the publication of his unfinished masterpiece, A Voice Through A Cloud. 'If any writer has been neglected it is Denton', wrote William Burroughs in 1985 - but Welch is also a writer who has attracted a firm coterie of admirers, ranging from W.H. Auden to Alan Bennett, Edith Sitwell to John Waters. Of his short life, Edmund White has noted, 'He had the power to generate interest out of even the most meagre materials. He had this gift from the beginning but suffering and illness refined it to a white-hot flame.'
'That rare being, a born writer.' - Edith Sitwell
'The real horror implicit in the book is that pain is the only reality.' - Jocelyn Brooke
'Are we not all, emotionally, what Mr Welch is in fact - orphans, each traveling alone on a journey which, if it is headed in the direction of unknown dangers, at least is heading away from the fears one knows?' - W.H. Auden
'An incomparable account of shattered flash and refracted spirit.' - John Updike, The New Yorker
'A Voice Through a Cloud is one of the saddest books in all fiction. It is also one of the most exquisite.' - Lars Iyer
'His best book.' - The New York Review of Books
'Rapt attention to the aesthetic ... His protagonists are misfits: alienated, implicitly gay, longing for love, frequently hard to be around, always fixated on small pleasures that compensate for an essential feeling of not belonging.' - The Paris Review