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Endless Things by John Crowley

Endless Things

by John Crowley

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After re-reading for the umpteenth time two all time favorite Crowleys: Engine Summer (wrongly, I think, considered the last of his minor books instead of the first of his major ones), and the almost universally acclaimed Little, Big, I was still hungry for more. Sadly, I can't love what I've now read of the Aegypt quartet with the same passion as ES and LB; there are too many languors, too many tropes that are just a little too twee (all those heavily symbolic car names and fanciful place names, all that portentous italicization) and IMHO the unengaging, benighted intellectual Pierce Moffitt is simply not up to the job of central consciousness for this massive work (we do get breaks from him, thankfully, but not enough). And yet, all that said, Crowley still has the power to transfix with his narrative skills, his complex arcane histories, his epiphanies that arise believably out of the things of this world, and the often astoundingly lovely lyricism of his prose. He comes to the inevitable writer's conclusion that only stories offer the real possibility of transforming this world; it's his final abandonment of the mystery and magic he's so capable of calling into being that has disappointed a lot of readers of Aegypt--and while I get the rationale, I'm one of them, I hate to say. ( )
  CSRodgers | May 3, 2014 |
A coda and wrap-up following the turbulent Demonomania, this is a meadering wistful reminder that Crowley wrote the cycle over 20 years, and aged alongside his characters and his concerns. ( )
  adzebill | Jun 1, 2011 |
"Endless things" is certainly an appropriate title for this, the 4th book of the Aegypt cycle and the culmination of 30 years of Crowley's work. This is the most self-conscious and self-referential of the four books: all along, the reader has had the sense that the unfinished book by Fellowes Kraft and the unstarted book by Pierce Moffet are actually the books of the Aegypt cycle, and Endless Things confirms that suspicion, even offering some criticism of itself. And, like the unfinished books within the book and like the lives of the characters in the book, it doesn't really have an end as such. We have had four volumes of Crowley's amazing writing to get to know the characters in depth. They seem so real that it would be corny if their story came to a story-book conclusion with a happily ever after. Instead of ending, with a conclusion that wraps everything up and makes sense of the previous four volumes, the story simply stops at a relatively settled and peaceful moment in everyone's lives.

I was hoping that this volume would make sense of the previous three books, and tie together their rambling and desperate plot-lines into a more unified whole. It doesn't, but I don't think I'm disappointed by that. Crowley's writing is such a delight to read: he uses simple vocabulary and simple sentences, and yet he can pack more meaning and emotion into a simple turn of phrase than any other author I know. Over four volumes, he has managed to tell us so much about Pierce and the other characters, and to make them so real: it is like getting to know a really close friend and learning their entire life history. I found the whole series incredibly enjoyable, even if I wasn't sure what (if anything) Crowley was trying to say.

I think, like all of Crowley's books, I need to re-read these over the years. I think I will uncover more and more layers of complexity the more I revisit them. ( )
1 vote Gwendydd | Jun 20, 2010 |
  georgematt | Oct 23, 2009 |
A very disappointing, and nonmagical, conclusion to a beloved series. It's as though Prospero not only burned his books but denied that magic ever existed. ( )
  MuseofIre | Jul 6, 2009 |
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"But then," I said, feeling a bit bemused, "would we have to eat again from the Tree of Knowledge, in order to fall back into the state of innocence?"
"Of course," he answered. "That is the final chapter of history of the world."—Heinrich von Kleist, "On the Marionette Theatre"
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Y-tag was the designation that Hitler and the German High Command gave to the day—it was September 2, 1939—on which they had determined to send their forces across the border into Poland.
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This is the fourth novel—and much-anticipated conclusion—of John Crowley's astonishing and lauded Ægypt sequence: a dense, lyrical meditation on history, alchemy, and memory. Spanning three centuries, and weaving together the stories of Renaissance magician John Dee, philosopher Giordano Bruno, and present-day itinerant historian and writer Pierce Moffett, the Ægypt sequence is as richly significant as Lawrence Durrell’s Alexandria Quartet or Anthony Powell’s Dance to the Music of Time. Crowley, a master prose stylist, explores transformations physical, magical, alchemical, and personal in this epic, distinctly American novel where the past, present, and future reflect each other.
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"Endless Things is the fourth and final novel in John Crowley's AEgypt sequence. Crowley explores transformations physical, magical, alchemical, and personal, through the interwoven histories of philosopher-martyr Giordano Bruno, the marriage of the Winter King and the beginning of the Thirty Years War, the fragmented story of the Brotherhood of the Rose Cross, and the restoration of Pierce Moffett to the world and time and place which he has made for himself."--BOOK JACKET.… (more)

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