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The Journal of Albion Moonlight

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 15, 2002

    A bit of jazz, a bit of everything

    Patchen loved the connection between music and words, and he especially loved jazz. 'Moonlight' was written in the early 1940s. It tells a sort of allegory of the difficulty of believing in the goodness of humanity during a time of horrific warfare. Stylistically, the book is all over the map -- very experimental. Some of the experiments don't work very well -- others do. So there are bits of genius throughout, things which are either moving or extremely funny. It's not a novel of fantasy or science-fiction -- and yet Albion's world, which includes some mention of Hitler and World War II, is also an earth existing in some sort of parallel universe. Angels can fall from the sky; people can be killed and then come back to life. Madness and violence are never far away, but also mixed in with or opposed to sections of beautiful, lyric prose. Some journal entries, or parts of them, are on a par with the best of the Marx Brothers or Mark Twain. There's also a theme of a search for and communion with God; either the divine within or the divine universal, that which may exist in all living things. The elusive and mysterious character Roivas represents this quest in the Journal. As a part of American literary history, Patchen's fictional 'Journal' has been an inspiration to many of those who later became known as the Beat writers in the 50s and 60s. I first learned of Moonlight's Journal while reading Richard Brautigan in the early 1970s, for instance. Henry Miller, the famous renegade or scoundrel of American Letters, made his mark as one of those who gave the earliest and most unreserved praise to Patchen's 'Journal of Albion Moonlight.' If you remember the phrase from the TV show 'Monty Python' -- 'And now for something completely different...' -- Patchen's Journal will certainly not disappoint you in that respect.

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