Endless Things: A Part of AEgypt

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Praise for the Ægypt sequence:

"With Little, Big, Crowley established himself as America’s greatest living writer of fantasy. Ægypt confirms that he is one of our finest living writers, period."
—Michael Dirda

"A dizzying experience, achieved with unerring security of technique."
The New York Times Book Review

"A master of language, plot, and characterization."
—Harold Bloom...

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Endless Things: A Part of Ægypt

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Overview

Praise for the Ægypt sequence:

"With Little, Big, Crowley established himself as America’s greatest living writer of fantasy. Ægypt confirms that he is one of our finest living writers, period."
—Michael Dirda

"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. . . . Ægypt 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 Ægypt 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 Ægypt 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.

"It is a work of great erudition and deep humanity that is as beautifully composed as any novel in my experience."
Washington Post Book World

"An unpredictable, free-flowing, sui generis novel."
Los Angeles Times

"With Endless Things and the completion of the Ægypt cycle, Crowley has constructed one of the finest, most welcoming tales contemporary fiction has to offer us."
Book Forum

"Crowley’s peculiar kind of fantasy: a conscious substitute for the magic in which you don’t quite believe any more."
London Review of Books 

"A beautiful palimpsest as complex, mysterious and unreliable as human memory."
Seattle Times

"This year, while millions of Harry Potter fans celebrated and mourned the end of their favorite series, a much smaller but no less devoted group of readers marked another literary milestone: the publication of the last book in John Crowley’s Ægypt Cycle."
—Matt Ruff

"Crowley’s eloquent and captivating conclusion to his Ægypt tetralogy finds scholar Pierce Moffet still searching for the mythical Ægypt, an alternate reality of magic and marvels that have been encoded in our own world’s myths, legends and superstitions. Pierce first intuited the realm’s existence from the work of cult novelist Fellowes Kraft. Using Kraft’s unfinished final novel as his Baedeker, Pierce travels to Europe, where he spies tantalizing traces of Ægypt’s mysteries in the Gnostic teachings of the Rosicrucians, the mysticism of John Dee, the progressive thoughts of heretical priest Giordano Bruno and the “chemical wedding” of two 17th-century monarchs in Prague. Like Pierce’s travels, the final destination for this modern fantasy epic is almost incidental to its telling. With astonishing dexterity, Crowley (Lord Byron’s Novel) parallels multiple story lines spread across centuries and unobtrusively deploys recurring symbols and motifs to convey a sense of organic wholeness. Even as Pierce’s quest ends on a fulfilling personal note, this marvelous tale comes full circle to reinforce its timeless themes of transformation, re-creation and immortality."
Publishers Weekly

Locus Award finalist

John Crowley was born in the appropriately liminal town of Presque Isle, Maine. His most recent novel is Four Freedoms. He teaches creative writing at Yale University. In 1992 he received the Award in Literature from the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters. He finds it more gratifying that almost all of his work is still in print.

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Editorial Reviews

Bill Sheehan
John Crowley's Endless Things is the fourth and last installment in a vast, intricate series of novels collectively entitled "Aegypt." The series (which is really one long novel) began in 1987 with the publication of Aegypt (soon to be reissued as The Solitudes) and was followed by Love & Sleep (1994) and Daemonomania (2000). It was clear from the start that Crowley was on to something special, and the appearance of this final volume confirms that impression. In its entirety, "Aegypt" stands as one of the most distinctive accomplishments of recent decades. It is a work of great erudition and deep humanity that is as beautifully composed as any novel in my experience.
— The Washington Post
Publishers Weekly

Crowley's eloquent and captivating conclusion to his Ægypt tetralogy finds scholar Pierce Moffet still searching for the mythical Ægypt, an alternate reality of magic and marvels that have been encoded in our own world's myths, legends and superstitions. Pierce first intuited the realm's existence from the work of cult novelist Fellowes Kraft. Using Kraft's unfinished final novel as his Baedeker, Pierce travels to Europe, where he spies tantalizing traces of Ægypt's mysteries in the Gnostic teachings of the Rosicrucians, the mysticism of John Dee, the progressive thoughts of heretical priest Giordano Bruno and the "chemical wedding" of two 17th-century monarchs in Prague. Like Pierce's travels, the final destination for this modern fantasy epic is almost incidental to its telling. With astonishing dexterity, Crowley (Lord Byron's Novel) parallels multiple story lines spread across centuries and unobtrusively deploys recurring symbols and motifs to convey a sense of organic wholeness. Even as Pierce's quest ends on a fulfilling personal note, this marvelous tale comes full circle to reinforce its timeless themes of transformation, re-creation and immortality. (May)

Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
Kirkus Reviews
The search for knowledge that obsesses historian Pierce Moffett reaches an inevitably muted conclusion in this dense, final volume of Crowley's fascinating, knotty AEgypt Quartet. Readers of its predecessors (Daemonomania, 2000, etc.) will already know what emerges gradually here: that Pierce's quest to comprehend an "alternate history" of everything expresses an idea he gleaned from eccentric novelist Fellowes Kraft's learned historical romances-that the plenitude, indeed infinitude of the universe, composed as it is of "endless things," promises "[m]ore than one history of the world, one for each of us." Transformation and cyclical process are of the essence, as Pierce travels to Europe, researching evidence of gnosis (i.e., ultimate meaning) in the life and martyrdom of Renaissance philosopher Giordano Bruno, the eclectic genius of Elizabethan scientist-magus John Dee, the mazelike lore of Rosicrucianism and the significance of the "chemical wedding" that united a 17th-century Bohemian prince with the daughter of England's King James I. This portion of the novel is kick-started by a lovely account of Pierce's London meeting with legendary Renaissance scholar Frances Yates and a fragmented history of Fellowes Kraft's embattled and enlightened childhood, and dominated by a lengthy account of Bruno's several reincarnations after he was burned at the stake. Then, in what amounts to a book-length denouement, numerous flashbacks and segues to Pierce's youth, marriage and adoptive fatherhood link the resolution of his quest to the repetition of ancient stories, trysts and moral lessons-as do the experiences of his scattered family, friends, lovers, mentors and soul mates. The book ends with apilgrimage to a mountaintop that accomplishes a long-desired reconciliation. Forbiddingly intricate, frequently static and, doubtless, only semi-intelligible to readers who do not recall in considerable detail the content of its three predecessors.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781931520225
  • Publisher: Small Beer Press
  • Publication date: 4/1/2007
  • Series: Aegypt Sequence, #4
  • Pages: 341
  • Product dimensions: 6.30 (w) x 9.30 (h) x 1.20 (d)

Meet the Author


John Crowley was born in the apporopriately liminal town of Presque Isle, Maine, in 1942, his father then an officer in the US Army Air Corps. He grew up in Vermont, northeastern Kentucky and (for the longest stretch) Indiana, where he went to high school and college. He moved to New York City after college to make movies.
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Read an Excerpt

Y-tag was the designation that Hitler and the German high command gave to the day--it was September 2, 1939--on which they had determined to send their forces across the border into Poland. I don't know if this was the strategists' usual way of naming such a day, or was only invented for this day of this year. Y-tag: a juncture, a crossroads that could not ever afterward be returned to.

The weather was beautiful in that season of that year, endless hot golden stasis of possibility and sweetness: everyone remembers. In New York City the World's Fair was open, "Building the World of Tomorrow," and Axel Moffett went out with Winnie Oliphant in late September, along with Winnie's brother Sam and Sam's new wife, Opal. There was a special subway train that took them out from Grand Central, an express that stopped at its own brand-new station right at the Fair's gate. Tickets to the Fair cost seventy-five cents, but Axel noted that you could spend as much as five dollars for a book of tickets to all the big shows and a lunch too. "Let's just get in," said Sam.

Sam and Opal, living in Kentucky, hadn't met Axel Moffett before; he had been courting Winnie for some time, and she had been writing funny little disparaging notes about him to Sam in Kentucky, who said to Opal that he thought maybe the lady doth protest too much. Axel lived in Greenwich Village, and had met Winnie in Union Square, near where he worked and she was trying business school. They both liked to get a frank from a cart for lunch on nice days. Sam and Opal had come north in Sam's old Buick so Opal could meet the Oliphant family. Opal was pregnant already. "I hope it's a girl," she said whenWinnie touched the dove gray gabardine over her stomach.

Axel bought a guidebook, whose cover showed the Trylon and Perisphere, and a white city, and crossing searchlights illuminating little airplanes. He searched in its pages, falling behind the others and then hurrying to catch up on his oddly small and well-shod feet. They came to the center, the Theme Center. "The only all-white buildings at the Fair," Axel read, and they looked up and up, shading their eyes, at the impossibly slim, impossibly aspiring thing. Inside the great white sphere there was a model city of the time to come, a small World of Tomorrow inside the big one. The line of people who had come from all over the country and the world to see it wound up the white ramps and bridges and stairs in their hundreds to the little door that gave into the sphere. "Too long," said Sam.

"We came on too nice a day," Opal said. "We should have come in the rain." They all laughed, because rain seemed so unlikely here; here the sky would always be this azure.

"Well, it is the Theme Exhibit," Axel said wistfully. He read from the guidebook: "'Here in the "Democracity" exhibit we are introduced to the tools and techniques necessary to live full lives in the world to come.'"

"We'll just have to take our chances, I guess," Sam said. "Where now?"

"I'd like to see the Kentucky exhibit," Opal said loyally.

"I don't think there is one," Axel said. "Not every state has one."

Everywhere they wandered they saw things vastly oversized, as though brought back from some titanic elsewhere by explorers, like King Kong. The cash register that counted the visitors to the Fair, as big as a cottage; an auto piston, working away obscenely; the world's largest typewriter; a giant bank vault door; the worker with his flame held aloft atop the tower of Russia's building. "USSR," said Sam. "Not Russia."

"So what do you think?" Opal asked Sam, taking his arm and glancing back at Winnie and Axel coming along behind.

"Well," said Sam. "I don't think he's the marrying kind."

"Oh Sam."

"I don't think so," Sam said, smiling.

"She's taller than he is," Opal said. Axel had stopped to light Winnie's Old Gold, though he didn't take one himself; he shook out the match with care. "That's always a little tough."

"Is that so?" said Sam, still smiling.

It was the cleanest public place they had ever been in. The thousands of well-dressed people walked or rode in little teardrop-shaped cars or took pictures of one another in front of gleaming buildings of white and pale pink and citron. Best dressed of all were the Negroes, in groups or couples, bright frocks and spectator shoes and wide hats like flowers. Opal took Sam's hand and glanced up at him (she was small, he was tall) and they were both thinking (not in words) that there really was going to be a new world, and maybe it wouldn't be possible to stay and raise a child--children--in the Cumberland highlands of Kentucky where nothing changed, or seemed only to get worse. No matter the pity and commitment you felt.

"Where now?" said Sam.

There were a hundred maps of the World of Tomorrow, all of them a little different. Some showed the buildings standing up in perspective, the spire and sphere, the strange streamlined shapes. Others showed the plan of colors, how each sector had its special color, which grew deeper the farther you got from the white center, so you always knew where you were. There were maps engraved on stone and maps on the paper place mats of the restaurant, blotted by the circles of their frosted glasses.

"Maybe Axel and I should head over to the Congress of Beauties," said Sam, who had taken Axel's guidebook and bent back the cover as though it were a Reader's Digest. "'A tribute to the body beautiful,'" he read. "'In a formal garden and woodland, there is room for several thousand people to view the devotees of health through sunshine.'"

"Sam," said Opal.

"It's okay," he said, grinning at Axel. "I'm a doctor. I'd be there if you fainted, too."

In the AT&T Building they took a hearing test and tried the Voice Mirror that let them hear their voices as others heard them; they sounded thin and squeaky in their own ears, even Axel's, which was studiedly rich and low. In the Demonstration Call Room, Opal was chosen by lot to be one of those allowed to make a telephone call to anywhere in the United States, no part of it unreachable any longer.

"Oh, that's too funny," Winnie said. Opal stepped up to the operator in uniform and headphone and gave her the number of the county clerk of Breshy County, Kentucky, who lived in the town of Bondieu. The operator turned to her switchboard and put through the call. Everyone in the Demonstration Call Room could hear the call make its way through the national web, from operator to operator, as lights lit up on a great map of America.

Central, said the operator in Bondieu, and the people in the Demonstration Call Room in Long Island made a small sound of awe.

The World's Fair operator gave her the number of the county clerk.

Oh, he ain't home, said Central. (Her name was Ivy. Opal felt a stab of homesickness.)

"Please put the call through," they heard the operator say.

I can tell you he ain't home, said Central. I just now seen him out the winder, on his way to the drugstore.

Now people in the Demonstration Call Room were starting to laugh.

"This call is coming from the New York World's Fair," the operator said, as primly, as mechanically as she could. "Please connect."

Well, all right, said Ivy. But y'all gone get no satisfaction.

Everyone but the operator was laughing now, listening to the phone ring in the empty house far away; laughing not in an unkind way, but only to show they knew that the World of Tomorrow might be a little farther off than it seemed to be here, which was no surprise really, and reflected badly on no one, not the backward little town or the flustered uniformed lady in her swivel chair. It was just time, time passing at different rates everywhere over the world, faster or more slowly.

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