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The Affirmation [Hardcover]

Christopher Priest
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (28 customer reviews)

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Book Description

25 May 1981
From the author of "Fugue for a Darkening Island" and "The Glamour", comes a new elaborate science fantasy novel. Winner of the British Science Fiction Award, Christopher Priest was featured in the Book Marketing Council's "Best of Young British" promotion.
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Product details

  • Hardcover: 228 pages
  • Publisher: Faber & Faber; First Edition edition (25 May 1981)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0571116841
  • ISBN-13: 978-0571116843
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (28 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 507,385 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


"With formidable imagination and ingenuity, Christopher Priest turns the novel into an Escher tessellation in which figure and ground are interchangeable. Bringing home to the power of narrative to steal reality, affirming nothing, it abandons us mid sentence, posed between page and world, discomfited and hyper-aware." (Sam Thompson TIMES LITERARY SUPPLEMENT) --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

Book Description

A haunting thriller from one of Britain's most exciting writers --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Identity/fiction/metaphor/affirmation 14 Aug 2009
By S. Bentley VINE VOICE
Christopher Priest is, as I've mentioned in another view the British middle class answer to Philip K. Dick. His work deals with the very notion of self, how we form our identities and how fragile those identities might be, wrapped into a metafictional narrative that acknowledges its own artifice at the very same moment that it celebrates it.

Like the Glamour, a story about the dissipation of identity and surety, the Affirmation takes its narrator, Peter Sinclair and then deconstructs him, strips away his identity and rebuilds it to the point where neither the narrator nor the reader knows for sure who this man is and what reality he exists in.

Peter has some kind of dissociative episode after losing his job and breaking up with his girlfriend. His life is bereft of meaning, so he tries to give it one; first by writing his life out, then by turning that life into a story. Recognising that there is no meaning to life, he begins to fictionalise his life, creating analogues for London, his girlfriend, his family, but finding that the fiction does not directly map onto reality, he finds the edges blurring between one and the other. The fiction bleeds into reality and perceptions are flipped.

The prose is completely gripping. Sinclair could come across as a particularly whiny member of the chattering classes, but his predicament and imagination make up for this. Priest is able to compelling create worlds to the point where you're not sure which is the more real and has things to say about escapism and real life along the way.

The Affirmation is an affirmation of life, just as it is an affirmation of the power of fiction. It is a blueprint for our postmodern lives, and needs to be read.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Mind-blowing 6 Feb 2009
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
The Affirmation is the eighth novel by British SF author Christopher Priest, originally published in 1981. As with his later novels The Prestige and moreso The Separation, The Affirmation is a book about identity, truth, perception and perspective which rewards multiple readings and is open to many interpretations of what is happening.

A 29-year-old man named Peter Sinclair is tormented by the death of his father, an unhappy relationship with a woman named Gracia and the loss of his job in London. Offered an opportunity to fix up the dilapidated country house of a friend of his late father's, he jumps at the chance. Whilst performing this job he becomes obsessed with the idea of writing his autobiography and defining his life through words. But, anxious to protect the identities of real people, he changes their names, then the names of the places they live, then the very nature of the world they exist in.

But that may be a lie.

A 31-year-old man named Peter Sinclair is living in the city of Jethra, part of the great nation of Faiandland. Unexpectedly, he wins the Lotterie-Collago. The prize is a course of treatment given on the distant southern island of Collago, which grants the recipient immortality but only at the price of total amnesia. On his way through the islands he meets and falls in love with a woman named Seri, but is occasionally haunted by thoughts of a manuscript he wrote two years ago, the story of his life with some of the names and places changed.

That may also be a lie.

The Affirmation utterly defies any attempt to summarise it. It is a twisting and at times bewildering novel that moves between at least three different levels of reality, and each of those is open to multiple interpretations.
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18 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Dream Archipelago will never leave you 5 May 2006
Peter Sinclair retreats to a cottage in the hills in an effort to escape and recover from the misfortune that has plagued him for the last few months. Whilst there he decides to write an account of his life in an effort to define himself. Frustrated that a simple re-telling of events is not sufficient he chooses instead to construct a metaphorical chronicle - a "higher truth" - set in the sun-soaked Dream Archipelago, where anything is possible and nothing is quite what it seems. As his work progresses, Sinclair finds metaphor and reality leaking into each other - undermining perceptions of self and the world about him.

A masterful examination of our ideas about memory and identity woven into a dizzyingly sophisticated narrative. The Affirmation is also an intriguing exploration of the writing process. The ending to this haunting tale of loneliness and despair will hit you in the face like a lump hammer.

Double-plus recommended.
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars 5 stars 18 Feb 2003
I have just reread The Affirmation after about 18 years. It was not quite as I remembered it. To quote from the book "Memory is a flawed medium".
What is it about? Here is my attempt at an improved synopsis:
Peter Sinclair has a run of bad luck - his father dies, he is made redundant, he is served notice to quit his flat, and he falls out with the girl he loves. A family friend lends him a country cottage in return for some renovation and decorating. He moves into the cottage and starts to brood on what he left behind and tries to remember everything that has happened to him in his life so that he can make some sense of it. He realises that he has to write it all down. He finds a typewriter and starts enthusiastically writing all his memories but realises that he is constrained by having to stick to literal truth. He constantly rewrites, using his imagination to seek a higher truth about his life. A large part of the novel is devoted the story of his alter ego but the dividing line between fantasy and reality becomes blurred.
When I was reading the early part of the book I found it easy to follow and it seemed so real that I suspected that Christopher Priest was describing events from his life. Then the fantasy element is introduced with a sub-story set in the Dream Archipelago. After I finished reading the book I was still thinking about it, wondering how much I had understood, what the Dream Archipelago meant, what was the "higher truth", what was "The Affirmation". It is like one of films with that you need to watch it again straight away to try to unravel its mysteries.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars A convincing perspective on a troubled individual, identity and how it...
Almost the leit-motif in the book - deftly woven realities leave the reader with a deeper truth. This book has a schizophrenic quality which eesonates long after the last page.
Published 3 months ago by Colin Chisholm
3.0 out of 5 stars A slow read
Bought this book on the back of Priest excellent Inverted World novel, and must admit found this book a slow read, this is not a sci- fi novel more fantasy nothing gripping about... Read more
Published 6 months ago by christopher walton
2.0 out of 5 stars Not sci-fi, not that great
The story is interesting but the writing didn't feel like anything special. Confusingly it isn't sci-fi unless you're using a very broad definition. Read more
Published 6 months ago by Joanne Page
4.0 out of 5 stars Still confused!
i am still confused by this book! I finished it 2 weeks ago and am still wondering if I fully understood what happened - although I think this is the point of the cyclic way the... Read more
Published 11 months ago by Helen Parker
5.0 out of 5 stars Poetic, surreal and tragic
This is one of the most surreal books i have read recently. It can be read and interpreted on several levels. It stays with you long after you have closed the book. Read more
Published 11 months ago by A. T. Jadhav
4.0 out of 5 stars Dont read anything about this book before you read it..!
Don't read anything about this book before your read it. Its a brilliant novel that certainly benefits from the reader knowing nothing about it. Read more
Published 19 months ago by Olaf Williams
3.0 out of 5 stars Not for the uninitiated.
This was my forage into Sci Fi and I didn't really get it. The Islands, the war, the girls prepared to give up everything for some pretty uninteresting bloke didn't really seem... Read more
Published 19 months ago by Olive
2.0 out of 5 stars Pretty Dull (spoiler alert!)
Peter Sinclair suffers some personal tragedies and retreats to the country house of a friend, with the intention of decorating the place, but ends up having a mental breakdown and... Read more
Published 24 months ago by pygstone
5.0 out of 5 stars An unforgettable journey
if you've ever woken from one of those strikingly vivid dreams and wondered for a moment where you are, then this book is for you. Read more
Published on 7 Aug 2012 by dalek78
4.0 out of 5 stars A rich, multi-layered, page-turning psychological drama
Having enjoyed the cleverly crafted 'Inverted world' from the SF Masterworks series also by Priest, I approached 'The Affirmation' with anticipation. Read more
Published on 18 July 2012 by John M
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