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Aegypt (Bantam Spectra Book) [Hardcover]

John Crowley
3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 390 pages
  • Publisher: Bantam Dell Pub Group (Trd); First Edition edition (April 1987)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0553051946
  • ISBN-13: 978-0553051940
  • Product Dimensions: 23.1 x 15.7 x 3.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,636,702 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

3.8 out of 5 stars
3.8 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Truly a special book. 28 May 2002
Ratings are invidious, equally it is difficult for most people to name any one novel, or record, or film which they value above all others. So I cant tell you that Aegypt is the best book I have ever read, or even that it is my favourite, there are simply too many others I have loved to make such a claim. However, it is one of those which will always spring to mind if anyone ever asks me.
It is not an easy novel to describe, the story is so rich, so varied and so strange as to defy easy explanations. The central character is Pierce Moffat, historian, out of work and on the verge of losing any sense of that the world is as we would think it to be. His obsession is the arcarna of late medieval Europe, and he knows that their world was so different from ours that we can hardly call it the same place. In his company and the company of Bruno and John Dee (two genuine figures from the 16th century) we are led through meeting with angels, and maybe other powers, who existence is so tenuous that we cant ever be certain they are there. As the backwards leap into the other world unfolds, Pierces actual life, changes. His leaving of his job, his city (New York) and almost all his former habits, and his move to a New England Arcadian idyll in is brought to life with such beautiful prose. Crowley's descriptive passages of the rivers and the people of this country are as delightful as anything else written.
Yet at its heart the novel is a mystery, a question about the nature of belief and truth and how one can influence, inform, or even radically alter the other. How the world is not a set of rules, but a set of perceptions that we make and change according to our needs and our desires. It sets us a philosophical conundrum and answers is with stunning elegance.
This barely begins to tell the features in the landscape of the book, as there are several other strands of the story on which I have not touched. A beautiful novel and the first of four.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Hard to find kooky classic 14 July 2005
By A Customer
First up - this book (and its sequels) are getting increasingly difficult to get a hold off. None are currently in print and for some reason their second hand prices are quite steep. (75 for Love and Sleep anyone?) Is there ever going to be a reprint in the UK?
Having said that, if you do manage to track down a copy of this series you are in luck - an east coast academic, who failed to achieve his youthful promise, flees a hedonistic New York for the upstate village of Blackberry Jambs. His goal is to foreswear relationships and write the definitive guide to the hermetic history of the world.
A typical synopsis for the modern American novel but for Crowley this is the platform for an exploration of the nature of history and reality. His aims are much larger than most modern authors and reading this book you get a sense of something bigger and grander beyond one's everyday life. (It reminded me in some ways of A Glastonbury Romance by John Cowper Powys - which I'm sure is intentional on Crowley's part. It is probably open to the same criticism directed at Powys of wilful kookiness.)
I re-read Aegypt lately after a gap of ten years and to be honest I had forgotten that about half way through there was a huge chunk of exposition on the nature of the hermetic tradition. The material is in itself very interesting but stuck as it is, almost undigested in the middle of the novel, it's a definite weakness.
Aegypt's well worth pursuing to the end. I just hope you can find the rest of the sequence!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
By Nicholas Casley TOP 500 REVIEWER
"Whenever the world turns from what it has been into what it will be, and thus earns a different past and a different future, there is a brief moment when every possible kind of universe, all possible extensions of being in space and time, are poised on the threshold of becoming, before all but one pass into non-existence again; and the world is as it is and not as it was, and everyone in it forgets that it could ever be or has ever been other than the way it is now."

I remember when I bought this book when it originally came out in paperback in 1988. I was intrigued by the cover. And I remembered as a child hearing somewhere news that someone had supposedly found the twelve signs of the zodiac hidden in the landscape around Glastonbury. I was intrigued and the book turned out to be a damn good read. I am not a big fan of fantasy novels, but the fantasy element in this book is extremely well handled. And over the years, when I have had a clear out of some of my novels, I've always kept this in my collection and have recently had the chance to re-read it. I still think - more than ever - that it's a damn good read. It's on a par with Umberto Eco's `Foucault's Pendulum. And now I discover that this book forms the first part of a tetralogy.

It's 1976. Pierce Moffett is an unhappy teacher in the rural lands behind the east coast of the USA. He has "a glimpse of places long known to him by name but still more or less imaginary ... here was danger, and the chance for strange bliss.
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