©1987 John Crowley; (P)2007 Blackstone Audio Inc.
"A dizzying experience, achieved with unerring security of technique." (New York Times Book Review)
"Aegypt is a must....Crowley [is] an original moralist of the same giddy heights occupied by the likes of Thomas Mann and Robertson Davies." (San Francisco Chronicle)
"Affecting, cerebral, surprising and delightful, this extraordinary philosophical romance suggests an unlikely but thriving marriage between a writer like Anne Tyler and one such as Jorge Luis Borges." (Publishers Weekly)
Crowley develops his stories slowly with lots of detail and writes beautifully. His writing and ideas are meant to be savored and pondered. If you like the idea of listening to a 15 hour and 29 minute narrative poem, with another poem inside it, then you might well like this book.
Crowley narrates the book himself, in a flat middle-American voice, with a quirky, slightly self-conscious manner. The narration worked for me. I found his voice easy to listen to, and his reading gave me more insight into what his artistic intentions are. But the narration isn't going to please everybody.
If your idea of a good book on spirituality is the Davinci Code or The Celestine Prophecy than this book is not likely for you. If on the other hand you are a lover of the great books and look to Shakespeare for spirituality than Crowley will not disappoint. A book that tries to make magic something more than new-age spirituality, to reawaken the weight and power it once possessed.
Here are worlds within worlds, stories with stories, a 15th century Dominican Monk, a young Will Shakespeare, a crowd of likeable 1970's types. The text does ramble, but the reachings are enjoyable, often poetic, many times profound. I love the combination of authorial ambition and accessibility, novel history and philosophical magical realism. Because it is stories within stories, it was difficult, sometimes, to follow the leap from real time text to the fictions or histories that the protagonists themselves were reading. (This is not a problem with the hard copy.) I was tempted to give it 4 stars for that reason, but I so enjoyed hearing Crowley read and and the book has staying power for me, so 5 stars it is. I'm glad I own it because I will listen to it again.
I was sold on the thesis of the book concerning alternate histories. Unfortunately, John Crowley lost me somewhere in the badlands of his plot. This book is an ambitious effort at corraling a wild and free, open range idea. But that mustang remains on the loose for me. When I read reviews of the book's sequels, critics warn that the author hit his high mark in Aegypt. Adios John. Your lasso flew way over my head.
My first time through, i grew restless with this book. I kept finding moments of brilliance though. Enough for me to finish, but not enough for me to care much for it.
After a growing interest in psychology, cosmology, existentialism, solipsism and neurology, among the other complex themes of Aegypt, i decided to revisit it and see how it would resonate. Needless to say, it inspired me to write this review and I would highly recommend this book to anyone interested in the greater questions of life
Of course, this is a challenging read (or listen) and Crowley's writing may seem tedious at first. The layers of synchronicity, subtext, historical 'facts' and allegories, etc. require his level of detail. Some fore knowledge of the subject mater would help as well, but this book might actually be a good place to start, if for nothing else than to see if John Crowley's fascination with the world doesn't inspire your own.
I cannot recommend this one highly enough. It has a somewhat opaque beginning, but stick with it! This is really not a very "difficult" book (or audiobook).
John Crowley's novels have often fallen through the crack between "serious" literary fiction and science fiction/fantasy. This novel (which has just been republished under the author's preferred title, "The Solitudes") is the first in a tetrology (still collectively called "Aegypt"). I can't say enough about it. It's a novel of ideas that contains interesting and believable characters. It is somewhat Pynchonesque (and has numerous Pynchon references for the Pynchonati) but is more humanistic in its orientation than Pynchon tends to be. And, despite what other reviewers have written, the author does an excellent job reading his own work. I only hope that Crowley provides us with audiobooks of the rest of the tetrology in the future!
This is the first audio book I can honestly say I didn't like. To say it was confusing and disjointed is understatement. While I am sure it was a deep an mysterious observation on life and human existence, it was beyond me.
We are our imaginations and die with them.
This is by far my most treasured audible possession, and I have been a member for several years now. The story, the reading, both are flawless! I hope Mr. Crowley will eventually record audio versions for the remaining three books. Until then I am eagerly awaiting the upcoming release of his masterpiece--Little, Big on audible.
Pierce Moffat is a man who lives in one reality while experiencing another. As he reviews his life he realizes that this “feeling” he inhabits has become his central focus. He begins to see that every event and action of his life has been leading him toward this realization. He looks to the horizon and the Far Away Hills, a mystical landscape on the border lands of the two realities. He examines his feeling of time in contrast to his perception of it. He senses a hidden story of the world and wonders how he might uncover it. Gradually he learns to accept and to submit to the flow events and trusts that he will be exactly where he needs to be in order to manifest this perplexing experience. We learn about the writer Fellowes Kraft a man to whom Pierce’s destiny is manifestly bound and who through whom we are introduced to the remarkable Giordano Bruno and the wonderful metaphysician Dr Dee. Then there are the women in Pierce’s life who somehow hold the key to unraveling Pierce’s sense of things. This book is categorized as “Fantasy”, but this is misleading for Aeygpt is really an allegory about an experience of reality that might be called “Intuitive”. This is a tradition with a long pedigree, one that has operated alongside all the mainstream religious belief systems while remaining largely hidden. We might find a sense of this in Gnosticism, Hermeticism, and in the Rosicrucian traditions to name but a few. There are some difficulties with this novel and the Audio production. Aeygpt is the first in a four book cycle, and therefore the spot on which this remarkable and highly talented writer has laid a detailed foundation, be patient as the form does eventually begin to take shape. Also, the writer is the narrator and his style does take a little getting used to. Finally, this book is a wonderful gift to those whose seek to raise their sight beyond the accepted truths. Persevere and you will be astonished.
At times this book was good, but not enough times. It would drone on...it seemed...for hours. I am a firm believer in that the author should never read their own book. This just proves my point.
This novel (now re-named 'The Solitudes') is the first book in John Crowley's Aegypt quartet (the others - 'Love and Sleep\"; 'Daemonomania'; 'Endless Things' don't seem to be available as audio books yet, but can be bought in paperback). The four books really need to be read as one long novel, and what a wonderful experience that is, this is one of the great undiscovered masterpieces of modern American writing. The novel weaves together the stories of Pierce Moffett, a failing academic who is about to be taught a few things about life; John Dee the Elizabethan magus; and Giordano Bruno, Renaissance philosopher. At once a fascinating history lesson about Renaissance occult thought (if ever a book deserved to be called the Da Vinci Code for grown ups it is this); a gnostic parable; and a moving and powerful psychological tale of self transformation. The audio book is read by the author himself in a low key, deadpan style which works very well with the story.
"A beautiful reading of a great modern novel"
John Crowley delivers a sensitive and affecting reading of the first volume of his masterpiece, 'The Aegypt Quartet'. This is quite one of the best things I've heard on Audible.
"Great writer not so strong on reading"
Crowley's "Little, Big" is one of my favorite books so I jumped at the chance to hear Aegypt, which I hadn't read. I enjoyed this but I might try approaching it again in print-- I kept having to go back and listen to sections again because I couldn't quite follow what was happening. His style which is very oblique and poetical would have benefited from a professional reader-- the author does the reading himself, and while he does a good job the sound of the prose is maybe too essential to the book to leave it to a non-actor. If you like "Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell" you might give this a chance; it's similar in a sort of gentle, hippie-ish modern-day way.
"Unsure how I feel."
I did enjoy this book but it was very hard work. I found the 'free love' feel of the modern storyline sat very strangely with its philosophical ramblings. I have a feeling that perhaps I may enjoy the next one more now that the characters are set. (Presuming it contains the same characters). Cannot give the heartfelt praise of other reviewers.
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