Check out the Pride Celebration Treasure Hunt!
This site uses cookies to deliver our services, improve performance, for analytics, and (if not signed in) for advertising. By using LibraryThing you acknowledge that you have read and understand our Terms of Service and Privacy Policy. Your use of the site and services is subject to these policies and terms.
Hide this

Results from Google Books

Click on a thumbnail to go to Google Books.

The Dumb House (Vintage Classics) by John…

The Dumb House (Vintage Classics) (edition 2016)

by John Burnside (Author)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
1384130,457 (3.76)4
Title:The Dumb House (Vintage Classics)
Authors:John Burnside (Author)
Info:Random House UK (2015), Edition: Reissue, 208 pages
Collections:Your library

Work details

The Dumb House by John Burnside



Sign up for LibraryThing to find out whether you'll like this book.

No current Talk conversations about this book.

» See also 4 mentions

Showing 4 of 4
I had such high expectations for this book, and I was not dissapointed!

This book is more of an exploration on the subject of language and human nature, so if you're looking for an intriguing plot that ends up with a clear resolution, you might not enjoy it that much, to be honest. Besides, it is a pretty disturbing read (think along the lines of "Perfume"), but if you're interested at all in the themes the novel works with, then you'll definitely get something out of it.

I would love to read what some psychologists, particularly psychoanalists, would have to say about this book, because the way it works with the idea of language and its structure really reminded me of Lacan and Derrida. ( )
  Booksen | Jun 23, 2017 |
Creepy but very well-written. ( )
  booksinbed | Dec 21, 2015 |
" He takes what is a truly twisted character-a man who is conducting science experiments to see if children develop language even if they are not exposed to language-and with his prose makes it all somehow dreamy. I was riveted"
read more: http://likeiamfeasting.blogspot.gr/2015/10/dumb-house-john-burnside.html ( )
  mongoosenamedt | Oct 22, 2015 |
The foreword for the book (I’m sure this would class as a novella rather than a novel at 198 pages) explains about Akbar the Great and how in Persian myth he apparently built a palace that was filled with newborn children who were looked after by mutes. This was done in order to learn whether language is innate or acquired. This palace was known as the Gang Mahal, which translates as the Dumb House. Burnside’s story is a modern-day repetition of Akbar’s investigations.

It doesn’t often happen that I agree with an endorsement but the quote from ‘The Guardian’ on the front cover announcing ‘One of the most beautiful, disturbing débuts for a long time ... brilliant’ sums up how I felt. It is both chilling yet compelling and is so morally incomprehensible. The book is sectioned into three parts with each part entitled according to who Luke’s involvement is with at that time. I can’t recollect if the reader is party to how old Luke is but when the story opens you know he is an adult living at home with his mother. The beginning of the novel is actually the end and then Luke moves into explaining how he reached this point, so in essence it is a recount.

The opening paragraph had me hooked, “no one could say it was my choice to kill the twins, any more than it was my decision to bring them into the world ... I chose to perform the laryngotomies, if only to halt their constant singing ... that ululation entered my sleep through every crevice of my dreams”. From here, I was gripped. The reason I didn’t give it 5 stars and opted for 4 was simply because there were several pages where I felt Luke rambled. Whilst appropriate for his character I tired quickly of the passages about Mother and one or two sections about Karen. Other than that if you like your fiction somewhat darker, then this is one for you. Horrifying in that it isn’t a thriller but enough to leave you wondering about the complexities of human nature. ( )
  SmithSJ01 | Nov 30, 2011 |
Showing 4 of 4
no reviews | add a review
You must log in to edit Common Knowledge data.
For more help see the Common Knowledge help page.
Series (with order)
Canonical title
Original title
Alternative titles
Original publication date
Important places
Important events
Related movies
Awards and honors
First words
No one could say it was my choice to kill the twins, any more than it was my decision to bring them into the world.
Last words
Disambiguation notice
Publisher's editors
Publisher series
Original language
Canonical DDC/MDS

References to this work on external resources.

Wikipedia in English


Book description
Haiku summary

No descriptions found.

"As a child, Luke's mother often tells him the story of the Dumb house, an experiment on newborn babies raised in silence, designed to test the innateness of language. As Luke grows up, his interest in language and the delicate balance of life and death leads to amateur dissections of small animals - tiny hearts revealed still pumping, as life trickles away. But as an adult, following the death of his mother, Luke's obsession deepens, resulting in a haunting and bizarre experiment on Luke's own children." -- Back cover… (more)

(summary from another edition)

Quick Links

Popular covers


Average: (3.76)
1 1
2 1
3 5
3.5 5
4 11
4.5 1
5 5

Is this you?

Become a LibraryThing Author.


About | Contact | Privacy/Terms | Help/FAQs | Blog | Store | APIs | TinyCat | Legacy Libraries | Early Reviewers | Common Knowledge | 135,497,999 books! | Top bar: Always visible