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The Transmigration of Timothy Archer by…

The Transmigration of Timothy Archer (original 1982; edition 1991)

by Philip K. Dick

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Title:The Transmigration of Timothy Archer
Authors:Philip K. Dick
Info:Vintage (1991), Edition: ., Paperback, 256 pages
Collections:Your library

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The Transmigration of Timothy Archer by Philip K. Dick (1982)

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This is the final book in Dick’s trilogy exploring and arguing concepts of religion and belief. Look, I’ll be honest – I was going to try a nice little plot synopsis. But you can find that anywhere, and that isn’t what is important. What is important here is that Dick uses his writing skills to keep these arguments about life and belief from bogging down. The people are interesting, their lives are interesting, and the discussions that ensue from these people asking the questions about their lives are interesting.

The book is a worthy completion of the trilogy. (Okay, trilogy is the wrong word – it is not like these books are continuing one story. Rather, they are continuing one long discussion, with three different stories.)

You should read all three.

And you should read this one. ( )
  figre | Sep 4, 2012 |
One of Dick's best dives into warped mental states and their various outcomes. Though it's often lumped with his sci-fi work, it's more a straight novel than even the least fanciful of his late works. A great examination of religious purpose and over-intellectualization. ( )
  coffeezombie | Aug 16, 2012 |
Through a constant fight of religion versus philosophy and reason versus belief, a fairly linear

and uneventful plot unravels through a set of characters, all of them more or less unattractive or despicable in their own way. This is the work of a highly intelligent mind who could use is

knowledge, his awareness of his own mental illness and his mastery of writing to serve an extremely compelling read that leaves you more open to the great existential questions of the human race. ( )
  fgaine | Dec 14, 2011 |
This is probably my favorite Philip K. Dick novel . . . despite the author's lapses in style, such as not knowing how to use the subjunctive. It's an amazing slice of life. It's a harrowing glipse at mysticism. It's a profound meditation on the (as they say it in Literature 101) "the human condition."

It's a whopping good yarn.

Ooops. Forget I wrote anything so crass. ( )
  wirkman | Mar 24, 2007 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Philip K. Dickprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Powers, Richard M.Cover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Underwood, GeorgeCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Book description
Set in the late 1960s and 1970s, the story describes the efforts of Episcopal Bishop Timothy Archer, who must cope with the theological and philosophical implications of the newly-discovered Gnostic Zadokite scroll fragments. The character of Bishop Archer is loosely based on the controversial, iconoclastic Episcopal Bishop James Pike, who in 1969 died of exposure while exploring the Judean Desert near the Dead Sea in the West Bank.

As the novel opens, it is 1980. On the day that John Lennon is shot and killed, Angel Archer visits the houseboat of Edgar Barefoot, a guru, and reflects on the lives of her deceased relatives. During the sixties, she was married to Jeff Archer, son of the Episcopal Bishop of California Timothy Archer. She introduced Kirsten Lundborg, a friend, to her father-in law, and the two began an affair. Kirsten has a son, Bill, from a previous relationship, who has schizophrenia, although he is knowledgeable as an automobile mechanic. Tim is already being investigated for his gnostic, allegedly heretical views about the Zadokite scrolls, which reproduce some of Jesus Christ's statements about the world, but have been dated to the second century before the birth of Christ.

Jeff commits suicide due to his romantic obsession with Kirsten. However, after poltergeist activity, he manifests to Tim and Kirsten at a seance, also attended by Angel. Angel is sceptical about the efficacy of astrology, and believes that the unfolding existential situation of Tim and Kirsten is akin to Friedrich Schiller's German Romanticism era masterpiece, the Wallenstein trilogy (insofar as their credulity reflects the loss of rational belief in contemporary consensual reality).

The three are told that Kirsten and Tim will die. As predicted, Kirsten loses her remission from cancer, and also commits suicide after a barbiturate overdose. Tim travels to Israel to investigate whether or not a psychotropic mushroom was associated with the resurrection, but his car stalls, he becomes disoriented, falls from a cliff, and dies in the desert.

On the houseboat, Angel is reunited with Bill, Kirsten's son who has schizophrenia. He claims to have Tim's reincarnated spirit within him, but is soon reinsitutionalised. Angel agrees to care for Bill, in return for a rare record that Edgar offers her.

Transmigration is one of Dick's most overtly philosophical and intellectual works. While Dick's novels usually employ multiple narrators or an omniscient perspective, this story is told in the first person by a single narrator: Angel Archer, Bishop Archer's daughter-in-law. Dick's work was often criticized for its flat, stereotypical female characters, so Angel may represent his effort to prove he could create a rich and believable feminine voice.

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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0679734449, Paperback)

The Transmigration of Timothy Archer, the final novel in the trilogy that also includes Valis and The Divine Invasion, is an anguished, learned, and very moving investigation of the paradoxes of belief. It is the story of Timothy Archer, an urbane Episcopal bishop haunted by the suicides of his son and mistress--and driven by them into a bizarre quest for the identity of Christ.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:19:12 -0400)

(see all 5 descriptions)

The final book in Philip K. Dick's VALIS trilogy, The Transmigration of Timothy Archer brings the author's search for the identity and nature of God to a close. The novel follows Bishop Timothy Archer as he travels to Israel, ostensibly to examine ancient scrolls bearing the words of Christ. But, more importantly, this leads him to examine the decisions he made during his life and how they may have contributed to the suicide of his mistress and son. This introspective book is one of Dick's most philosophical and literary, delving into the mysteries of religion and of faith itself. As one of Dick's final works, it also provides unique insight into the mind of a genius, whose work was still in the process of maturing at the time of his death.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

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