A Glastonbury Romance

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Overview

A Glastonbury Romance, first published in 1932, is Powys masterwork, an epic novel of terrific cumulative force and lyrical intensity. In it he probes the mystical and spiritual ethos of the small English village of Glastonbury, and the effect upon its inhabitants of a mythical tradition from the remotest past of human history - the legend of the Grail. Powys's rich iconography interweaves the ancient with the modern, the historical with the legendary, and the imaginative within man with the natural world outside...

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Overview

A Glastonbury Romance, first published in 1932, is Powys masterwork, an epic novel of terrific cumulative force and lyrical intensity. In it he probes the mystical and spiritual ethos of the small English village of Glastonbury, and the effect upon its inhabitants of a mythical tradition from the remotest past of human history - the legend of the Grail. Powys's rich iconography interweaves the ancient with the modern, the historical with the legendary, and the imaginative within man with the natural world outside him to create a book of astonishing scope and beauty.

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Editorial Reviews

Chicago Tribune
This is a... great novel. It stands as a gigantic rebuke to a time of minimum-risk writers and readers, and I hope that many among them will be encouraged to attempt it.
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
A major English novelist of the 1920s and '30s, Powys's remarkable novels are reprinted from time to time (Harper recently did Weymouth Sands). The present edition marks a long-overdue return to availability of what is certainly his masterwork. Glastonbury is a small town in Somerset that by legend was home to King Arthur, and some of its ruins are infused with the spirit of long-gone ideals like the Holy Grail. Building on that base, Powys has constructed a towering edifice of faith, greed and cynicism, as a wealthy industrialist tries to exploit the town's mines, a skeptic cynically plans to bring in money by exploiting the legends and many people of varying degrees of faith and idealism are caught in between. Powys's gifts are enormous: he has an eye for nature, and its mystical power, akin to Wordsworth's; his sense of rustic scene and character is the equal of Hardy; his sharp-eyed view of business and politics reminds one of Shaw; and his sense of the endless subtleties of the relationships between men and women is, if anything, more encompassing than D. H. Lawrence's. His leisurely tale is told in prose that ranges from poetic miniatures to extended passages of the most dazzling rhetoric. It's a long book that requires the closest attention; but those who fall under its spell will be rewarded by one of this century's masterpieces of the novel. (November 17)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780879516819
  • Publisher: Overlook
  • Publication date: 11/28/1996
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 1120
  • Sales rank: 665,802
  • Product dimensions: 5.37 (w) x 7.95 (h) x 1.85 (d)

Meet the Author

John Cowper Powys (1872-1963) lived in the United States as well as his native England.  The author of ten novels, including A Glastonbury Romance, Weymouth Sands, and Maiden Castle, as well as many works of criticism and philosophy, he was the son of a vicar and a descendant of the poets Donne and Cowper.

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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted June 19, 2003

    truly a great novel

    Someone - I cannot remember who - once referred to the opening sentence (or maybe paragraph) of 'A Glastonbury Romance' as 'the Becher's Brook of English fiction'. (For non-UK readers, Becher's Brook is the most difficult obstacle on our longest and most gruelling horse race, the Grand National.) In this - I think, on reflection, paragraph - we are introduced to two of the novel's principal characters, John Crow, and the Sun. Not 'the son', but the Sun - the 'great luminary of the universe', to borrow the title of Alun Hoddinut's orchestral work. For this is the first, and startling, instance of what Powys does throughout the novel - binding together all of nature and giving everything sentience, from a stone or a blade of grass to the stars in their courses, and still managing to tell an enormous narrative, long and exceedingly complex, filled with vivid, three-dimensional characters, and rising to two great climaxes, one half-way through and the other at the end. So... if you can get through that opening - better, go with it and be enthused by its ambition and originality - keep going and you will be rewarded by one of the great and permanently enriching reading experiences of your life.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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