A researcher sits in the archive of the British Psychoanalytic Society in London, examining fragile pieces of paper, small notebooks, and diaries. A writer in Berlin finds himself haunted by the city’s socialist-era buildings, and by their designer. Each begins to sketch the historical figure at the heart of his fixation.
Joan Riviere was an early English psychoanalyst and Sigmund Freud’s earliest translator. Hermann Henselmann was a German architect, famous for many of the post-war buildings of the German Democratic Republic. The two novellas about their lives form an incomplete history of Europe’s 20th century—its wars, its politics and thought. They explore two complementary attitudes to the world: the psychoanalyst’s absorption in the continuing impact the world has on us, and the communist’s efforts to build something new in the midst of it all.
Lucidly realised and formally inventive, R.H.I. combines historical research with fiction, blurring and refocusing our ways of seeing the past.
Tim Corballis is the author of the novels Below, Measurement and The Fossil Pits as well as a substantial body of short fiction, essays and art writing. In 2000 he won the Adam Foundation Prize for Below, and in 2005 he was awarded the Creative New Zealand Berlin Writers’ Residency. He recently completed a PhD at the University of Auckland on aesthetic theory. In 2015, he is Writer in Residence at Victoria University. He lives in Wellington with his partner and their twin daughters.