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 interweav
|Publisher:||The Overlook Press|
|Product dimensions:||5.37(w) x 7.95(h) x 2.25(d)|
|Age Range:||18 Years|
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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.
(I'll put this up here until a better review comes along; I hope for one to appear shortly!)So. A Glastonbury Romance is about life, I think. The cosmos is alive from the First Cause through the sun and moon and down to the earth and its denizens. Even the mud and rocks get their proper due, and worms and fish and lice and other creepy crawlies get more than their due sometimes. People may or may not realize their place in the great cosmic chain. The ones who do in this book are fortunate to live in Glastonbury, which is a hub for cosmic influence. So we meet the Crow family, very powerful in many ways and mostly unaware of the life around them. And we meet the saints who are in touch with the Other or some Other - John Geard, newly-elected mayor of Glastonbury with his family, Mat Dekker (the Anglican priest and arch-enemy of the sun) and his son Sam who becomes "Holy" Sam, and Owen Evans, a wild Welshman. Sexual activity abounds (but there's no graphic sex) and women have their place although none of them gets to be a mystic. In fact, it seems that we meet most of the residents of Glastonbury in one way or another as the book drives toward an epiphany. It's wild; it's funny; it's beautiful; it's exasperating; it's powerful and profound; it's a lot like life.