Olivia: A Novel by Dorothy Strachey

In one of her books, Elena Ferrante references Olivia, a novel published anonymously by Dorothy Strachey in 1949, and so I read it next. It is a slow short novel that burns brightly at the very end. I wondered why it’s not a more well-known book, but I think the subject matter and age difference between “Olivia” and her teacher are key reasons. At times it felt like somewhat of a reverse Lolita. Interestingly, this novel was written several years prior.

In the end, while I don’t necessarily recommend it as your typical light read, I do think the book has literary merit on the grounds that it seems to capture a Freudian influence and understanding of the world. Many books and authors were doing something similar at the time, and it, no doubt, had an impact on art today.


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