When he died at age 81 in 1973, the secret world of Henry Darger, a recluse who worked cleaning bedpans in a Chicago hospital and lived in a tiny attic apartment, was finally revealed.
For decades, Darger had been amassing what became a 15,000 page novel, In the Realms of the Unreal, densely typed and lavishly illustrated with watercolors and magazine cutouts. The book chronicled the struggle of the seven Vivian Girls, who lead a rebellion against John Manley and the Glandelinians, practitioners of child slavery.
Subsequently, other Darger works have been discovered in the mounds of refuse he left. Armed with new research on both the artist and his work, Mark Stokes' Revolutions of the Night gets past the sensationalism of the Darger story to actually assess the quality of his work and to place it in the contexts of both contemporary art and literature.