Sunday, 9 October 2011

A Glastonbury Romance by John Cowper Powys

At the striking of noon on a certain fifth of March, there occurred within a causal radius of Brandon railway station and yet beyond the deepest pools of emptiness between the uttermost stellar systems one of those infinitesimal ripples in the creative silence of the First Cause which always occur when an exceptional stir of heightened consciousness agitates any living organism in this astronomical universe. Something passed at that moment, a wave, a motion, a vibration, too tenuous to be called magnetic, too subliminal to be called spiritual, between the soul of a particular human being who was emerging from a third-class carriage of the twelve-nineteen train from London, and divine-diabolic source of the First Cause of all life.

Is this the oddest and yet quite truthful start to a novel that has ever been written? Scholiasts of recurring heresies will note the Gnostic element but that is but a facet of the ingredients in the cauldron kept bubbling with clippings from The Thorn. To say that it is complex and a worthy proposal in its anfractuosities as a special subject on Mastermind would be to claim that a clock that builds new cogs as required and is lubricated by the best butter is nevertheless a sure chronometer. Nay sir, this novel includes history and concludes it.

There are 1120 pages in all, don't take less, and it would not be giving too much away to say that The End is not a conventional marker but a part of the novel. This requires strategy. Mine is baptism by immersion. Simply allow each paragraph to draw you on to the next and soon you will be attuned to its, and here I doff my cap step back and with a deep bow and flourish say, its cosmic vibrations.

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