Endless Things

Endless Things

by John Crowley

Praise for the Aegypt sequence: "A dizzying experience, achieved with unerring security of technique."-The New York Times Book Review "A master of language, plot, and characterization."-Harold Bloom "The further in you go, the bigger it gets."-James Hynes "The writing here is intricate and thoughtful, allusive and ironic.

. Aegypt bears many resemblances, incidental and substantive, to Thomas Pynchon's wonderful 1966 novel The Crying of Lot 49."-USA Today "An original moralist of the same giddy heights occupied by Thomas Mann and Robertson Davies."-San Francisco Chronicle This is the fourth novel-and much-anticipated conclusion-of John Crowley's astonishing and lauded Aegypt sequence: a dense, lyrical meditation on history, alchemy, and memory.

Spanning three centuries, and weaving together the stories of Renaissance magician John Dee, philosopher Giordano Bruno, and present-day itinerant historian and writer Pierce Moffitt, the Aegypt sequence is as richly significant as Lawrence Durrell's Alexandria Quartet or Anthony Powell's Dance to the Music of Time.

Crowley, a master prose stylist, explores transformations physical, magical, alchemical, and personal in this epic, distinctly American novel where the past, present, and future reflect each other.

  • Series: The Aegypt Cycle
  • Language: English
  • Category: Fantasy
  • Rating: 4.05
  • Pages: 341
  • Publish Date: April 1st 2007 by Small Beer Press
  • Isbn10: 1931520224
  • Isbn13: 9781931520225

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As the series progresses the story of a new age coming into being moves forward (ok, if you're reading this, you might want to stop here, I'm going to ruin things for the reader who likes not knowing what happens next), but by the fourth book it seems as if something radically different has happened to the way the story would head. This is a slight disappointment for the reader (like myself), who kind of wants more mysticism, more ultimate good fighting ultimate evil, but the diverging trajectory of the storyline makes a certain thematic sense when looked at in the light of events in the multiple threads of the story. In the end I'd highly recommend this series of books, and in a just world many people would read this, especially since watered down versions of the subjects covered in this book have been racing around the best-seller lists these past couple of years (Dan Brown, The Secret and it's Hermetic lite ideas).

The series started with the possibility of opening doorways into mansions containing new worlds within worlds, and ends with someone buying a simple house in a small town.

Crowley seems to know he has written a bad book, because he tells us his fellow craftsman, Fellowes Kraft, is writing an equally bad one, and it is bad in exactly the same ways Endless Things is bad.

I read Aegypt (since retitled The Solitudes) when it first came out in 1987, still high on Crowley's earlier Little, Big, then and now one of my favorite novels of all time.

Endless Things was the first book by John Crowley that I have owned, but until recently have not had the previous three volumes to read. Along the way, searching for these lost books, I read Crowley's other works (with the exception of Four Freedoms and some of his short fiction)and he quickly became one of my favorite authors. I was anxious about reading this series, one that took twenty years to write... I am now convinced that Aegypt is a work of magic realism. People's thoughts will change, and as the readership matures and hungers for what the typical fare can not provide, they will find from the past such works as John Crowley's Aegypt.

Unfortunately, the Aegypt sequence is much like Little Big (still Crowley's best): a work one wants to like more than its author allows.

I think that is way it is a little weak.

Continuity Crowley continues his (deliberate?) confusion about Pierce's age and thus the time-frame of the action. (34) (view spoiler)There is also a discontinuity or narrative gap, apparently intentional, between the end of Demonomania and the action of Endless Things.

"As the pages had silted up Kraft had seemingly begun making the worst of fictional errors, or ceased correcting them: all those things that alienate readers and annoy critics, like the introduction of new major characters at late stages of the story, unpacked and sent out on new adventures while the old main characters sit lifeless somewhere offstage, or stumble to keep up. All of it inducing that sense of reckless haste or - worse - droning inconsequence that sooner or later causes us - us, the only reason for any of it, the sole feelers of its feelings, sole knowers of its secrets - to sigh, or groan in impatience, or maybe even end (with a clap) the story the writer seems only to want to keep on beginning." In the first book, Crowley made a number of jokes and references that paralleled and likened Kraft's novel, or the internal world of the book, to the series itself. Kraft's novel is reviewed harshly in the quote above, but Pierce later has a scarcely explained revelation that makes him see it was already finished, completely edited, that the traits he previously saw as mistakes were actually intentional and necessary to the point of the book.

Perhaps even endless is a word that fits. I find myself saddened, too, that I did not like this book more than I did, at how I had to force myself through it--for sometimes it seemed endless, and I say this as one who has been reading and enjoying Crowley's work since Engine Summer. But there is real depth here, for those with the patience to tease it out of Crowley's prose, and breadth of space and time as well, as Pierce Moffett travels from New England to Italy, from the iconic 1939 World's Fair and the immolation of Giordano Bruno to the Defenestration of Prague.

He published his first novel (The Deep) in 1975, and his 15th volume of fiction (Endless Things) in 2007. In 1992 he received the Award in Literature from the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters. Engine Summer (1979) was nominated for the 1980 American Book Award; it appears in David Pringles 100 Best Science Fiction Novels. This series and Little, Big were cited when Crowley received the prestigious American Academy of Arts and Letters Award for Literature.