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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The work of an initiate
A profound work of metaphysical research, superior to the magical fiction of Aleister Crowley and Dion Fortune. The book will be of interest to students of the mysteries; people with a religious sensibility at odds with the limitations of prevailing orthodoxies; and anyone with an interest in going beyond the stifling constrictions of mundane reality.
Published on 28 Nov 2010 by FNS

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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars An important novel of beauty that has little drama or excitement..
S.T. Joshi calls this novel the `cornerstone' of the entire Blackwood canon, and this seems to be a fair assessment of this intensely philosophical work; this could easily constitute an instruction manual in Blackwood's world-view (if we assume that he had confidence in what he wrote), and therefore is really required reading for anybody wishing to trace the derivation of...
Published on 18 Oct 2008 by Paul Macdonald


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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars An important novel of beauty that has little drama or excitement.., 18 Oct 2008
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Paul Macdonald "mac20584" (North Wales) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Centaur (Paperback)
S.T. Joshi calls this novel the `cornerstone' of the entire Blackwood canon, and this seems to be a fair assessment of this intensely philosophical work; this could easily constitute an instruction manual in Blackwood's world-view (if we assume that he had confidence in what he wrote), and therefore is really required reading for anybody wishing to trace the derivation of many of the naturalistic undercurrents in his work; for example the memorable story `The Man Whom the Trees Loved' is essentially the sentiment expressed in this book in a diluted guise.

However, 'The Centaur' is, in reality, divorced from the genre in which Blackwood's fame is the largest - horror. It is a supernatural novel, and could comfortably be placed within the bounds of what Lovecraft called `weird' literature; but fans of Blackwood's horror tales may not necessarily enjoy this novel, it is immensely unconventional, and unlike anything I've read before - in short, it will only satisfy those of a particular taste, and those who wish to enquire further into Blackwood's thought. It is the very opposite of what one might term a `commercial' novel.

'The Centaur' is a practically plotless book; although a skeleton of a narrative does bind the thing together. Terrence O'Malley is a peculiar type of mystic who yearns for a true affinity with the Earth and loathes all the trappings of modern civilisation with its want of genuine content and happiness through nature, a society which favours the acquirement of endless material superficialities in its stead. He meets a strange, outwardly simple man and his son who seem to hold the key which would relieve O'Malley's insatiable desire for lifestyle intimate with that of the Earth, which he believes to be conscious. A spiritual revelation in the Caucasus Mountains inspires him to convert `blind' humanity to his world-view.

'The Centaur' holds absolutely no dramatic import; it relies on its often beautiful imagery and the prose-poetry in which it is written to ignite the reader's interest, and admittedly, it does for a good deal of the book. However, this book certainly was challenging; not intellectually, but actually forcing to oneself to get through a few more chapters of the novel - the complete lack of suspense or any sense of anticipation of some exciting revelation means many parts of the book come very close to plain tediousness. There's also a constant feeling that Blackwood is simply repeating himself in his long philosophical discussions, covering the same ground in a similar mass nebulous language; these tend to dominate the entire work. I would estimate that as much as a third of the book, if not more, could comfortably have been dispensed with, without loosing much of the novel's spirit; it does at times feel like a self-indulgency on Blackwood's part.

Having said that, the novel is successful in many areas, the often gorgeous language and poetry Blackwood is capable of generating is found in abundance here, often did I forget the absence of a real narrative when lost among some lovely turn of phrase or poetic image. His philosophy, though I did not find it plausible, was at times a joy to read and Blackwood's criticisms of our modern, mechanical society are even more relevant today, almost a century after this book's publication.

There is no doubt in my mind that 'The Centaur' would have benefited from a large reduction in its length, and whilst it certainly has its moments, it is a severely flawed work. Although, if you are of the naturalistic or ecological/spiritual persuasion, its merits will surely become more apparent. As it is, if you are to understand Blackwood thoroughly as an author and as a man, The Centaur is an essential read, and I'm glad I've finished it.

I would have rated it 2.5/5
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The work of an initiate, 28 Nov 2010
This review is from: The Centaur (Paperback)
A profound work of metaphysical research, superior to the magical fiction of Aleister Crowley and Dion Fortune. The book will be of interest to students of the mysteries; people with a religious sensibility at odds with the limitations of prevailing orthodoxies; and anyone with an interest in going beyond the stifling constrictions of mundane reality.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A novel on nature mysticism, 24 May 2008
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J. Moore - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Centaur (Paperback)
Readers looking for a horror story should look elsewhere, as this novel is primarily concerned with nature mysticism. There is relatively little plot as such, and the book is primarily devoted to expounding Blackwood's views on religion and nature. Inspired by the works of Fechner and William James, this novel presents nature (or more specifically the planet earth) as a living, divine entity to which man must return.
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3.0 out of 5 stars errors, 11 Feb 2010
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This review is from: Centaur (Paperback)
The Centaur is a mystifying, infuriating and inspiring book. Blackwood here gave himself a chance to elaborate his ideas in novel form, rather than his usual vehicle of the long short story. If you are interested in Blackwood then it must be read. This particular edition, however, is vitiated by a host of errors in the type setting: they occur in almost every line, to such an extent that you begin to think the whole process was supervised by chimpanzees. So I would encourage people to read the book, but also do as I'm doing, and berate the publishers, who have shown themselves disgracefully shoddy in the production of this edition.
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The Centaur
The Centaur by Algernon Blackwood (Paperback - 5 Dec 2005)
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