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The Boston Globe

Theater & art

Art Review

Tom Phillips’s brilliance on every page

NORTH ADAMS — Neither a novel, a poem, an artist’s book, or a graphic novel, Tom Phillips’s “A Humument,” on show at the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art, is a little bit of all these things and one thing incontrovertibly: a masterpiece.

It’s also, uncomfortably, a parasite. Sucking steadily at the life juices of an earlier attempt at art, a late-19th-century novel called “A Human Document” by W.H. Mallock, it has transformed its forgotten host page by page, edition by edition, into something far more imaginative and lasting.

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