Hope Mirrlees The Counterplot (1925)

Found in the Donald Rudd collection of detective fiction at the back of Death of a Millionaire (Collins 1925) amongst the publishers announcements of forthcoming books this summary of the plot of the very rare Hope Mirrlees novel The Counterplot. These publishers advertisements  are useful to dealers, scholars, collectors etc., as they are able to ascertain what a book is about without the tedium of reading it. Also they are particularly useful for collectors of fantasy to see whether there is any supernatural content. Hope Mirrlees did write one fantasy Lud-in-the Mist published by Collins in 1926. This novel was described by Neil Gaiman as 'one of the greatest fantasy novels ever written.' Her novel The Counterplot contains within it a 100 page play. Hope is also celebrated for her ultra modernist long poem Paris (Hogarth Press 1919).

The Counterplot

The Counterplot is  a study of the literary temperament. Teresa Lane, watching the slow movement of life manifesting itself in the changing interrelations of the family, is teased by the complexity of the spectacle, and comes to realise that her mind will never know peace till, by transposing the problem into art, she has reduced it to its permanent essential factors. So, from the texture of the words, the emotions, the interactions of the life going on around her, she weaves a play , the setting of which is a Spanish convent in the 14th century, and this play performs for her the function that Freud ascribes to dreams, for by it she is enabled to express subconscious desires, to vent repressed irritation, to say things that she is too proud and civilised ever to have said in any other way.

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