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Absalom, Absalom!
Absalom, Absalom!
by William Faulkner
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 12.27
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5.0 out of 5 stars Ghosts of the Old South, Sept. 15 2003
This review is from: Absalom, Absalom! (Paperback)
Faulkner is notoriously cruel to his readers for making them scrape and dig for details in his almost incomprehensibly dense chronicles of the fictional families of Yoknapatawpha County, Mississippi, but not for nothing is he one of the greatest of American writers. A story is not a collection of cold hard facts but of ideas and images designed to make us exercise the remotest faculties of our minds, and Faulkner's fiction presses the buttons and turns the dials that set our mental mechanisms in motion.
"Absalom, Absalom!" is a particularly intricate machine that links the Old South with the New and features a family tree whose branches are gnarled beyond all reasonable efforts at traceability. The trunk is a man named Thomas Sutpen, who, after an adventurous youth in Virginia and the West Indies, arrives in YoCo in the 1830's with a large supply of money and black slaves, builds a plantation, marries a local girl, Ellen Coldfield, and fathers two children, Henry and Judith, envisioning a fruitful dynasty.
In Faulkner's characteristically confusing style, the story is narrated through a few different viewpoints. The closest to the Sutpen family is Ellen's sister Rosa Coldfield, who happens to be younger than Henry and Judith. She has suffered some unhappy experiences as a result of being associated with Sutpen, but she retains a certain pride as she recounts her history to Quentin Compson, the morose young man who, we know from "The Sound and the Fury," is later to drown himself in the Charles River. Quentin also gets information from his father, whose own father was a close friend of Sutpen's, and in turn discusses the Sutpen saga with his Harvard roommate Shreve, to whom Quentin insists, as the novel ends, that he doesn't hate the South.
As in "Light in August," race consciousness is a major subject in "A, A!" Thomas Sutpen is revealed to have fathered a boy named Charles Bon by a Haitian woman he thought was "pure" white, but he abandons her and the baby when he learns of her mixed ancestry. Later, he has a daughter named Clytemnestra (oh, the implications) by one of his slave women, proving himself to be a rather lecherous sort of hypocrite. Trouble begins when Henry meets his half-brother Charles at the University of Mississippi and brings him home, where he and Judith fall in love; Quentin's ultimate lesson about the Sutpens is that irony is a merciless punisher of irresponsibility.
"A, A!" returns to the impressionistic style of narration used in "The Sound and the Fury" and "As I Lay Dying." There are frequent shifts in focus and voice and extremely long parenthetical digressions which make this a difficult novel, but this is the kind of difficulty that gives Faulkner's fiction its substance. With an almost Shakespearean sensibility, Faulkner creates majestic characters of dazzling complexity and brooding intensity out of the basic cloth of ordinary folks, which is why figures like Thomas Sutpen, Quentin Compson, and Rosa Coldfield survive in our memories long after we finish reading the novel.

Plague, The
Plague, The
by Albert Camus
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 13.10
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5.0 out of 5 stars The trauma of a postwar existence, Aug. 29 2003
This review is from: Plague, The (Paperback)
In "The Plague," Camus updates a medieval horror to the twentieth century to introduce a new concept to his main literary theme of man faced with the absurd. Coming hot on the heels of World War II, it could be seen as an allegory of the eternal struggle between two major human forces -- love and hope on one side, death and destruction on the other.
The setting is Oran, a medium-sized city on the Mediterranean coast of Algeria, home to many French and Spanish foreigners. With an inspired sense of tension and drama, Camus builds up the plague as a series of morbid omens: A few dead rats turn up in the streets, their numbers soon growing into the thousands; a woman approaches a doctor's passing car, screaming in pain as blood drips from her crotch; people begin to suffer from buboes and ganglia which stiffen their joints and precede their death; a stricken opera singer falls dead upon the stage during a performance as the audience watches in sickened dismay. The city's government and medical establishment quickly move to quarantine the infected populace, and the city gates are locked and guarded by sentries to prevent people from entering or leaving, which results in panic and chaos.
How a city handles a plague has been covered in Daniel Defoe's journalistically toned "A Journal of the Plague Year" (1722), but Camus's novel is less about the disease than about the sensibilities of a group of specific characters. The central figure is Dr. Bernard Rieux, an important local physician who helps to organize "sanitary squads" which try to isolate the infirm. The events of the plague are recorded by a diarist named Jean Tarrou, who, as a staunch believer in the right to life for all people, represents the novel's humanist conscience.
A moral dilemma is personified by a journalist named Rambert, who has been quarantined in Oran and wants to get back to France to see his wife, illegally if necessary; ultimately he makes the brave decision to stay and aid the sanitary squads, persuaded partly by the knowledge that Rieux's own wife is away in a sanatorium for an unrelated illness. There are also two comical characters in the shapes of Joseph Grand, a municipal clerk who is working on a novel but is so fastidious a stylist that he can't get past the first sentence; and Cottard, a criminal who postpones his suicide when he notices that the authorities are currently much more concerned with suppressing the plague than prosecuting him.
Of course, the plague eventually subsides of its own nature, although its turning point in the novel coincides with, and may be related symbolically to, a shocking decision made by one of the main characters. The impression Camus gives is that, after the celebration of the return to normality is over, the people will probably go back to living very much the same way they did before, which suggests that human resilience is stronger than a need for faith.

The Time Machine
The Time Machine
by H. G. Wells
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
Price: CDN$ 4.99
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5.0 out of 5 stars Puncturing the fourth dimension, Aug. 25 2003
The "stranger in a strange land" genre -- ordinary men adventuring in extraordinary places -- is at least as old as Homer, but H.G. Wells's great invention in "The Time Machine" is to have his protagonist visit a land that is separated from his home by time, not distance. This man, who in the novel is enigmatically known only as the Time Traveller, contends that time is a dimension that is just as travelable as the three dimensions of space, builds a machine not to test his theory but to demonstrate his conviction, and embarks on a journey into the future while incredulous friends and colleagues wait patiently for his return.
His destination is not next week to check the weather, or next year to forecast the stock market, but 802,701 A.D. He finds that humanity has undergone a curious evolution and divided itself into two subspecies -- simpleminded, childlike little people called the Eloi and apelike subterranean dwellers called Morlocks who prey upon the Eloi. Hypothesizing that the Eloi are the result of thousands of years of upper class leisure from not having to struggle to survive or worry about diseases and hardships, while the Morlocks are the outcome of the working class's having been forced underground where all industrial operations have been relocated, he implies that social class consciousness is one thing that is sure to survive for 800,000 years.
If a time jump of eight hundred millenia seems ludicrously excessive, perhaps Wells wanted to be merely speculative without risking the fallacy of attempting to be prophetic; after all, the farther into the future, the more liberties he could take in imagining what the world would be like. He uses this unique opportunity to envision terrifying mutations of animal life millions of years beyond the Eloi and the Morlocks; what is so eerie about these images is what we can (or can't) guess about the climatic or environmental circumstances that could cause such monsters to evolve.
The level of intelligence of the futuristic monsters is unknown, but the novel's outlook for intellectual evolution is bleak. When the Time Traveller, scheming to retrieve his Time Machine which has been confiscated by the Morlocks, sees in an abandoned museum a library whose ancient books have decayed to a state of complete illegibility, he sadly muses, "Had I been a literary man I might, perhaps, have moralized upon the futility of all ambition." In a novel filled with cryptic scenes, this is quite possibly the most ominous -- a projection of thousands of years of human knowledge blithely going to waste as the species surrenders its intellectual advancement to the vagaries of fate.

Adam Bede
Adam Bede
by George Eliot
Edition: Paperback
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5.0 out of 5 stars Goodness prevails, July 28 2003
This review is from: Adam Bede (Paperback)
Adam Bede, the titular hero of George Eliot's first novel, is of a character so sterling that one little anecdote serves to define his whole life and work ethic: He's a carpenter, and he had done some work for a lady whose father, an old squire named Donnithorne, suggested that she pay him less than the fee he requested. Adam insisted that he would rather take no money for the job, for to accept a reduced amount would be like admitting he overcharges for shoddy work. By standing on his principles, he won his full fee in the end and cemented his reputation as a businessman of honor and acumen, proving his fairness to both his customers and himself.
Thus he seems an unlikely match for Hetty Sorrel, the prettiest girl in the village of Hayslope. Vain, selfish, materialistic, hating her laborious farm chores, Hetty bears more than a passing resemblance to Flaubert's Madame Bovary. However, while Madame Bovary's unattainable dream world is inspired by her reading romances, Hetty "had never read a novel" so she can't "find a shape for her expectations" regarding love. Unable to foresee any possible consequences for her actions, she allows herself to be seduced by Arthur Donnithorne, the old squire's grandson, who stands to inherit the land on which most of the Hayslopers live.
Arthur is a radiant example of Eliot's mastery in complicated character creation. Acutely aware of his position in society, he has the kind of charisma with which he can talk to his tenants politely but with just the slightest hint of condescension and completely win their respect for his authority. In fact, he is so accustomed to receiving nothing but admiration for his apparent moral integrity that it comes as a genuine shock to him when Adam, a man he truly likes, reproaches him for his reckless behavior with Hetty, a girl both he and Adam truly love. And the tragic irony is that Hetty doesn't really deserve either of them.
Religion plays a curious role in the story. Adam's brother Seth is infatuated with a woman named Dinah Morris, a cousin's cousin to Hetty and a Methodist evangelistic preacher who was inspired by Wesley in the flesh. Her influence among the villagers comes to the attention of the Anglican Rev. Dauphin Irwine, the vicar of Hayslope, who visits her to try to figure out her game and concludes that she's essentially a good woman with a good heart. Indeed, she is the first one to sense that Hetty may be headed for troubled waters and earnestly offers her spiritual guidance, to which Hetty responds with distrust and irritation.
Most powerful of the novel's images is that of Hetty wandering through the darkness and dangers of the English countryside in desperate search of the departed Arthur, carrying with her a symbol of their tormented love, and oblivious to the goodness of Adam, whose only desire is to protect her from the disappointment, shame, and disgrace that result from her pitiful reliance on Arthur's ability to buy her pretty things. But Eliot is too fond of her hero to let him suffer for long when the tides of fate come crashing violently to their inevitable shores, and the ultimate product is a novel of great compassion for its characters.

Wolf Solent
Wolf Solent
by John Cowper Powys
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 15.33
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5.0 out of 5 stars In search of sensations, July 21 2003
This review is from: Wolf Solent (Paperback)
John Cowper Powys is one of those authors who can be recognized just by the distinction of his prose, employing a style characterized by a picturesque metaphorical lyricism and, particularly in "Wolf Solent," the title character's deep introspection regarding his relationship to the world. Terms like "first cause" and "magnetic" are repeated throughout the novel like motifs, revealing the author's preoccupation with metaphysical forces, motivations, and effects.
Wolf is a 35-year-old man who, at the beginning of the novel, is moving from London to his native county of Dorsetshire to take a job assisting a wealthy man named Urquhart, the Squire of King's Barton, in writing a book about the more scandalous aspects of the histories of local families. Wolf finds Urquhart to be rather eccentric and petty and soon learns that his previous assistant, a young man named Redfern, died under disputable circumstances. This sounds like a setup for an intriguing mystery, especially when Wolf discovers Urquhart's gardener and another man digging around Redfern's grave one night, but the novel is concerned more with the essence of secrecy than with the mechanics of revealing secrets.
The residents of Dorsetshire, with their piquant personalities, rustic sincerity, and realistic complexity, are worthy of a Thomas Hardy novel; no set of characters can expect higher praise than that. They are there not just to drive the plot forward but to act and react against Wolf and each other to create a theater of emotions and passions in which life becomes a colorful, unpredictable masquerade. The principal players include Jason Otter, a morose, temperamental poet; Selena Gault, an ugly old spinster with whom Wolf's father had had an affair; Tilly-Valley, a foolish vicar; and Bob Weevil, a lascivious butcher whose sausages possibly connote something priapic about his role in the community.
Wolf's research brings him to two young ladies with whom he falls in love: Gerda Torp, the stonecutter's daughter, whose stunning beauty and nymphlike nature arouse his sexual desires; and Christie Malakite, the bookseller's daughter, a relatively plain but bright girl who is harboring a vile secret about her father and to whom Wolf relates on an intellectual level. As Wolf's romantic reveries careen between the two women representing two different erotic ideals, body and mind, we see an intense internal conflict building within him, one that threatens to, but somehow never does, unravel his inner peace.
And what is the source of this peace? Simply that Wolf has escaped the modernity and materialism of London to embrace the idyllic antiquity of rural England and to experience "certain sensations" -- not that he knows exactly what these are yet, but perhaps the fun is in not knowing, in exploration and self-discovery. This is also why he is annoyed by the encroachment of automobiles and airplanes into Dorsetshire towards the end of the novel -- twentieth-century technology has no place in the world whose nineteenth-century tranquility he wants dearly to preserve.

Dracula
Dracula
by Bram Stoker
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
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4.0 out of 5 stars Going for the jugular, July 14 2003
This review is from: Dracula (Mass Market Paperback)
When faced with the difficult decision of which undead monster to write about, a writer is best served by choosing vampires, whose awesome abilities and vestiges of human nature -- better conversationalists than zombies and mummies, more civilized than ghouls -- allow them to function as substantial literary characters.
Bram Stoker's "Dracula", however, is less about its title character than it is about the people who are trying to destroy him. Because the story is narrated by the hunters in a variety of first-person accounts, we get only their perspectives and not that of Dracula himself. It would have been nice to hear from someone who was once alive about what it's like to be cursed with an eternal undead existence, to be able to climb walls and turn into a bat at will, whether having to feast exclusively on human blood gets monotonous, and if all blood tastes the same. (I'd imagine some is saltier than others.)
The "living" characters in this novel are, in typical Victorian fashion, wound extremely tight. First we meet Jonathan Harker, an English solicitor whose firm has been hired by the infamous Transylvanian Count to help him buy a house in England. After finding himself imprisoned in Dracula's castle, noticing that the Count spends the daylight hours asleep in a coffin in an underground crypt, and being accosted by three female vampires under Dracula's command, Harker guesses that something about his apparently genial host is not quite right.
Eventually making his passage to England, Dracula proceeds to feast on a girl named Lucy Westenra, whose friend Mina happens to be Harker's fiancee. As Lucy lies in bed ailing and becoming paler by the day, a team of highly skilled experts, including the psychiatrist John Seward, the Dutch physician Abraham van Helsing (who speaks in enthusiastic bursts of pidgin English), Lucy's fiancee Lord Godalming, and a "laconic" Texan named Quincey Morris, is assembled to discuss the problem. Van Helsing's conclusion: We've got vampires.
The novel is more an exercise in suspense than in horror, especially since there is a time element involved -- Mina, also bitten by Dracula, will become a vampire under his power unless he is destroyed. The descriptions of the Count's desolate mountain castle, the morbid scenes of profuse bloodletting, and the concept of a nearly invincible villain are the very essence of horror, though, and Stoker puts them to as much use as he can. Many critics have commented on the novel's erotic symbolism, and if these views are valid, all I can say is that Stoker wouldn't be the first or the last author to associate sex with death.

Amerika
Amerika
by Franz Kafka
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 12.26
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5.0 out of 5 stars A descent into hell, July 10 2003
This review is from: Amerika (Paperback)
"Amerika" looks like it was written by someone who not only had never been to America but did not even care to know what it's really like. But Kafka's style is all about transforming the real into the surreal, tainting reality and disturbing our sense of order and structure. Even in the book's very first paragraph, when a ship carrying the protagonist, Karl Rossmann, approaches New York, the Statue of Liberty is depicted as holding in her raised hand not a torch symbolizing a beacon to welcome immigrants, but a sword, ominously threatening aggression. Similarly, when later in the book New York and Boston are described as being separated by the Hudson River, one wonders whether Kafka was sincerely ignorant of American geography or deliberately distorting it to create a dreamlike effect.
Karl, a German-speaking teenager from Prague, has been sent to America by his parents to evade charges of paternity by a maidservant he has impregnated. He is to learn English and complete his education while living with his uncle Jakob, owner of a shipping business. Soon he is invited to the mansion of one of uncle's friends, where he is assaulted by this man's daughter and loses himself within the enormous house's labyrinth of dark corridors. This is a typical Kafka touch -- enshrouding a normal situation with an eerie atmosphere and a sense of foreboding.
After Karl is expelled by his uncle over an unintended act of disrespect, he takes to the road and hooks up with two rough drifters named Delamarche and Robinson. They proceed to bully and steal from him and eventually cause him to lose his job as a hotel elevator operator, and, when all three end up living in an apartment with an imperious fat woman named Brunelda, Karl even becomes their prisoner and slave. These situations of helplessness and unfairness are evidence of more of Kafka's stylistic attributes -- paranoia and persecution fantasy -- which are employed to more morbid effect in "The Trial."
Like much of Kafka's work, "Amerika" is uncompleted, and we are left with a potentially intriguing fragment in which Karl, having somehow escaped his state of captivity, gets a job with a roadshow organization called the Theatre of Oklahoma, which promises (but ultimately cheats us out of) further bizarre adventures into the heartland of America. Kafka seems to imagine American showmanship as a perverse form of public spectacle; his portrayal of a street parade for the election of a judge, which Karl watches rapturously from Brunelda's balcony, is a narrative tour de force of human chaos.
The book's subtitle, "The Man Who Disappeared," expresses an idea that many Europeans may have had about America -- that emigration there was a final and irrevocable abandonment of cultural roots. But Kafka was not like many Europeans, let alone many people, and his theme can be interpreted more accurately as a descent into hell, a severance of all family ties (Karl lamentably loses his only photograph of his parents) and an immersion into the unknown. We can only hope that Karl, having sailed across the Atlantic like the dead being ferried by Charon across the river Styx, will be lucky enough to avoid the left-hand path towards his own personal Tartarus.

Penguin Classics Gargantua And Pantagruel
Penguin Classics Gargantua And Pantagruel
by Francois Rabelais
Edition: Paperback
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars It's all about the Bottle..., June 30 2003
Some years ago I read a quote by Rabelais -- something about whether a chimera bombinating in a vacuum could devour second intentions -- and I sensed that his humor might appeal to me. "Gargantua and Pantagruel," his literary landmark and the source of that quote, is a virtual encyclopedia of Renaissance satire that contrives a heroic epic as a backdrop for a comprehensive commentary of medieval and classical history and mythology.
The story, which concerns the adventures of the giant Gargantua, his son Pantagruel, and Pantagruel's friend Panurge, is completely silly; just scan the chapter titles in the table of contents for an indication. Silly, but not stupid: Rabelais is a serious scholar who has written a book that is not intended to be taken seriously. An epicure with an insatiable appetite for learning and a fascination with bodily functions, he believes that wine, scatology, and the pursuit of knowledge are inseparable. The book is all codpieces, urination, defecation, and flatulence at the service of satirizing the pedantry in the medical, legal, ecclesiastical, and academic professions as they existed in the sixteenth century. It should be noted that Rabelais's satire is generally playful and cheerful rather than bitter and mean-spirited, so the book's tone is always light even if its content is very erudite.
The plot, such as it is, is episodic rather than unified. Gargantua defends his country, Utopia, from invasion by King Picrochole of Lerne, in a war started by an argument between Utopian shepherds and Lernean cake-bakers; Pantagruel and Panurge then defend Utopia from invasion by Anarch, King of the Dipsodes; Panurge conducts inquiries among a variety of experts on whether or not he should get married, which leads to several discussions about cuckoldry, impotence, and cuckoldry as a consequence of impotence; and Pantagruel and Panurge, along with their monkish friend Friar John and several cohorts, embark on a sea voyage to consult the oracle of the Temple of the Bottle, visiting many strange islands and encountering many bizarre creatures along the way. As mentioned, it is of course all nonsense, but it is a definite precursor to the more farcical works of Jonathan Swift, Voltaire, Lewis Carroll, and James Joyce, and for that reason it has significant value as a ribald curiosity.

In Search of Lost Time Volume I Swann's Way
In Search of Lost Time Volume I Swann's Way
by Marcel Proust
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 13.72
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5.0 out of 5 stars Proust's way, June 18 2003
I wish I hadn't waited so long to experience Proust, for now having read "Swann's Way," I see that his deeply sensitive prose is a reference point for almost all of the introspective literature of the twentieth century. As the story of a boy's adolescent conscience and aspirations to become a writer, the book's only artistic peer is James Joyce's "Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man."
The narrator is presumably the young Marcel Proust who divides his recollections between his boyhood at his family's country house at Combray and his parents' friend Charles Swann, an art connoisseur. In fact, the path that passes Swann's house, being one of two ways the narrator's family likes to take when they go for walks, gives the book its title. Proust uses the theme of unrequited love to draw a parallel between his young narrator's infatuation with Swann's red-haired daughter Gilberte and Swann's turbulent affair with a woman named Odette de Crecy.
Intense romantic obsessions are a Proustian forte. Swann falls for Odette even though she is unsophisticated and frivolous and does not appear to love him nearly as much as he loves her. He is desperate for her, always sending her gifts, giving her money when she needs it, and hoping she will become dependent on him. It comes as no surprise that he is consumed with jealousy when he notices her spending time with his romantic rival, the snobbish Comte de Forcheville, and he is shocked by her lesbian tendencies and rumors of her prostitution. He finally realizes with chagrin that he has wasted years of his life pursuing a woman who wasn't his "type" -- but even this resignation is not yet the conclusion of their relationship.
Proust's extraordinary sensitivity allows him to explore uncommon areas of poignancy, perversity, and the human condition. One example is the young narrator's childish insistence on getting a goodnight kiss from his mother at the cost of wresting her attention away from the visiting Swann. Another remarkable instance is the scene in which a girl's female lover spits on the photograph of the girl's deceased father in disrespectful defiance of his wishes for his daughter's decency. And I myself identified with Legrandin, the engineer whose passion for literature and art grants his professional career no advantages but makes him an excellent conversationalist.
Few writers can claim Proust's level of elegance and imagery. The long and convoluted sentences, with multiple subordinate clauses tangled together like tendrils of ivy, remind me of Henry James; but Proust is much warmer and more intimate although admittedly he is just as difficult to read. The narration of "Swann's Way" is a loosely connected flow of thoughts which go off on tangents to introduce new ideas and scenes; the effect is similar to wandering through a gallery of Impressionist paintings. And, as though channeling Monet literarily, Proust displays a very poetical understanding of and communication with nature, infusing his text with pastoral motifs and floral metaphors that suggest the world is always in bloom.

Lilith
Lilith
by Macdonald George Macdonald George
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
Price: CDN$ 10.11
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A bridge between worlds, June 11 2003
This review is from: Lilith (Mass Market Paperback)
The arena of twentieth century British Christian fiction, which includes authors from Chesterton to Auden to C.S. Lewis, appears to owe a great deal to George MacDonald, whose Victorian fantasy as demonstrated in "Lilith" has a primitive and dark undercurrent. Nightmarish yet optimistic, "Lilith" is possibly the most vivid life-after-death parable since Dante's Divine Comedy.
The protagonist and first-person narrator is an excitable man named Mr. Vane who lives in an old house that has been in his family for generations. One day he notices an odd creature making its way through the library; this turns out to be the birdlike Mr. Raven, who introduces him to a mysterious world beyond a magic mirror stored in the garret of the house. A more modern author might be tempted to give this world a name to distinguish it from the real one, but to MacDonald it is merely an extension of Mr. Vane's conscience.
Mr. Vane is understandably frightened of but fascinated by this world. Part of it appears to be a realm of the Dead where skeletal apparitions dance and fight as though they were still living; part a forest where stupid, brutal giants and innocent, benevolent "little ones" share their habitats; part a murky moor where leopardesses roam in search of babies to eat and enchanting women are to be found. At the center of this world, embodying its evil, commanded by an entity known as the "Shadow," is the demon princess Lilith, a direct allusion to the Assyrian goddess and to the legend of Adam's first wife.
As a guide to this netherworld, Mr. Raven acts as a kind of Virgil to Mr. Vane's Dante; the structure of the story has a vague analogy to the sequence of Inferno, Purgatory, and Paradise. Mr. Vane's role is less clear; he could be considered a crusader against evil or an emissary of the living in the land of the dead. However, I wouldn't want to restrict my interpretation to a religious allegory because the novel works as pure mythology, although supplementary to Judeo-Christian theology.
For all his antiquated, overly formal prose, MacDonald displays a very poetic sensibility for symbolism; for example, he personifies the sun as "he" and the moon as "she," as if they were a married pair of celestial luminaries. There is also an implied notion of a library as a gateway to the imaginations of the innumerable deceased, which is a comforting thought that connotes potential immortality through the written word. If nothing else, "Lilith" functions as a bridge between two enduring traditions -- imaginative classic literature and twentieth century fantasy.

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