Special Agent, Special Agent

Dear Dr. Kivland

Your call for agents in Leeds Library has recently come to my attention. I know my application is after the deadline, but I hope my plea for inclusion will fall on generous ears. My lateness is caused by too many days of travelling, an unlikely film which finds me dressed as a unicorn, and a slow recovery from a most unpleasant case of pertussis.

These things notwithstanding, I propose a very special agency (you may recall a whisper in Dale Cooper’s ear): that, in your stead, I may be permitted to hunt crime through the Library’s Crime Fiction collection. While I cannot promise to dally with Jack Reacher, I may skirt around Todorov, as I file evidence on the most recent crimes, crime scenes, criminals, and detectives to be found in that location. Inspired by your methods of detection and particularly your book A Case of Hysteria, I suggest the compilation of a dossier that charts what I imagine that you might read at leisure. I will undertake the work like a ghost in the night – evoking perhaps Alberto Manguel’s post-midnight encounters – from the comparative safety of my own office, but I will certainly make one trip to case the joint and observe directly.

I hope that you will find my brief proposal an acceptable use of your time, as I am keen to work on your behalf and to be useful in your demonstration of mastery.

With hope and best wishes,

Your obedient servant,

Isabella Streffen


a note from Wikipedia

Kivland’s book A Case of Hysteria, published in 1999 by Book Works, won acclaim for its integration of psychoanalytic research and artistic method. The book follows Freud’s influential ‘Fragments of an Analysis of a Case of Hysteria’, in which he charts the treatment of his patient ‘Dora‘, and unfolds the enduring mysteries of the case in ways that reference, collect and in some ways exceed existing study of the subject. In her review in the Journal of European Psychoanalysis Julia Borossa called the work ‘astonishing’, noting: ‘What A Case of Hysteria does is make strategic use of Freud’s “Fragment of an Analysis of a Case of Hysteria” in order to argue a series of very important points about, on the one hand, what constitutes a case study, and on the other, about writing and the creative process itself’. She concluded by calling the work: ‘A book which is highly original and demanding of its readers, [and] has important things to say about the elusiveness of the intersubjective encounter versus an iconic status of Freud’s text.’

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