Figures of Earth, subtitled "A Comedy of Appearances", follows the vicissitudes of Dom Manuel the Redeemer from his lowly swineherd origins through his unlikely elevation to the Count of Poictesme, and beyond. Published in 1921, it was the second volume of “The Biography of Manuel”, Cabell’s great work about an imaginary land that also managed to skewer the world of his upbringing as a Southern Gentleman of Virginia, and nearly everything else, besides!
James Branch Cabell's career was short-lived - his works fit neatly within the 1920s literary escapist culture and then quickly declined in popularity as the author veered away from the fantasy niche. In his heyday, Cabell garnered praise from several of his contemporaries such as H. L. Mencken and Sinclair Lewis. Lewis even acknowledged Cabell's successful Jurgen in his 1930 Nobel Prize address.
"I think a must read..."
In the sulphurous The High Place, the amoral hero Florian enters the sleeping-beauty story and (unlike Jurgen with Helen) does not draw back at the sight of excessive beauty. Complications ensue: Beauty is realistically diminished during pregnancy, the first-born child is forfeit to Satan under the pact that guaranteed Florain's success, and an irascible saint is eager to call down holy fire on transgressors. Florian treads close to damnation and is saved only when Satan and the angel Michael conspire to let recent events become, again, a dream: he has a rare second chance and learns better.
"Too fast to be enjoyable"