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Half way through. - the period of cosmography
Half way through.
My heart aches from reading «AEgypt». I just got through «Love and Sleep» and feel dread and delight at the thought of the coming two. This is my first reread since the quartet was finished and a lot of things really stand out differently now that the story is whole. I set out purposefully, taking notes to ponder afterwards, and pausing to make sure I was “getting” it all. But soon I was too immersed, barely able to keep an appropriate emotional distance. In fact, though I first would not admit it, I’ve been growing a bit depressed or anxious over the last few days, in anticipation of the mounting darkness I now know. By now my previous words have made it necessary that I state explicitly a very obvious thing: I also very much enjoy reading these books. The thing is, they have a very strong grip on me. John Crowley is not the only author, this novel not the only that I reread every few years, but I am starting to learn that «AEgypt» is the one among them that resonates within me in the least abstract manner. Which is not really expectable considering that neither John Crowley’s nor his characters’ life experiences are too similar to mine.
I apologize to anyone who has read this far in the hope of learning anything new from within the story from me, but I’m not going to inflict my observations here now; I’d probably be just boring you if you are among the potentially interested.
Oh well, just one thing. I have new theory about the chest: It is not a container, it is a device. In two senses, it’s a mechanism (that is set off by turning the key in it), and it is a teaser (that will nag at the back of your mind for two more novels), an element of plot. And therefore it is a pun too, and with that, it is three things actually.
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joculum From: joculum Date: August 23rd, 2011 02:00 pm (UTC) (Link)
I remember vividly when I first finished reading Love and Sleep with the next two volumes still to be published (1999), firmly convinced I knew where the story had to be going from there, and firmly wrong. I'm still reading (not-so-)random passages from Ægypt (not from The Solitudes, for reasons having to do with the older version being at hand) and realizing afresh how and why I would have misconstrued the probable direction of events based on the overlap of details in the text with...well, never mind with what.

Edited at 2011-08-23 02:02 pm (UTC)
anselmo_b From: anselmo_b Date: August 23rd, 2011 02:56 pm (UTC) (Link)
Ah, you are as modest and reticent as usual. I will not push you on what the text overlaps with, if you'd rather not write about it (although you made me really really curious). But I'd really like to know what the differences are between the old versions and the new. I've always only read the old Bantam editions.
joculum From: joculum Date: August 23rd, 2011 03:44 pm (UTC) (Link)
I wonder if Mr. Crowley would enlighten us as to the differences? He says he straightened out some of the muddled chronology, which I believe I've confirmed...though I'd have to look it up. New typographic errors almost crept into the text, which happily I happened to read in advance galleys and pointed out (I think you can still look it up on crowleycrow). In general the two versions are identical except for one or two changes of date, if I recall correctly; I forget whether I did a line by line comparison.

If you feel that the books have no connection to your own biography, they seemed to have almost too much connection to mine in terms of the conceptual references and coincidences...not the biographical details, which my friend raised by adoptive parents in rural Kentucky found entirely too close to his own story. (It's why he pressed the books into my hands in the first place...plus admiring the handling of what he considered magic-realist narrative.)
anselmo_b From: anselmo_b Date: August 23rd, 2011 04:41 pm (UTC) (Link)

Dazed and confused.

I'm afraid I wholly mistook "...Ægypt (not from The Solitudes, for reasons having to do with the older version being at hand)..." as meaning that you were not reading in the first novel. And I thought that you must have important reasons for wanting to stay within one set of editions. Sorry for the confusion.
The two things that caught my attention when I first found Aegypt and Love and Sleep in a book store in Boston where the mention of Francess A. Yates and the notion of the world having once been different. I'd read one or two of Yates' books, and I had --and still have-- the conviction that the world in which I grew up was really substantially different from the one I'd come to live in; that there had been no U.S. base on Guantánamo in my childhood, for example. Real in a way that I wouldn't want to convince anyone of to the point of getting myself locked away for, but real to me as the keyboard on which I'm typing this right now. But that's it, everything else is one generation, one culture, removed from me. And yet I know exactly how Pierce felt stepping on those glass panes, I know the flavour of that dream where Rose ignites the match, and lots and lots of things.
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