Friday, July 26, 2013

Cathars - Amazon Summer Kindle Promotion

The Cathars has been selected by Amazon to be part of their Kindle Summer Promotion, which means you can get an e-copy for only 99p.

Heretical trivia (always my favourite part of a pub quiz): the man on the cover looks like a Cathar Perfect, but isn't. He is in fact a Spiritual Franciscan, who were outlawed in the latter part of the C13th, by which time Catharism had gone to ground in most of Europe.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Spanish Translations

Just arrived this morning: Spanish editions of The Knights Templar, Alchemy & Alchemists and The Cathars. The Gnostics is also available, as previously mentioned. They are all available from my Amazon US Store (cheaper than Amazon UK). The Templars is not based on the updated 2009 edition, although Alchemy does appear to be the revised 2006 edition.

I've also found a Spanish edition of the illustrated version of The Cathars, published by Taschen. As the author, I am of course the last to know. (This book is also available in French and German.)

Tuesday, July 09, 2013

John Cowper Powys - 50th Anniversary

While the 50th anniversary of The Beatles' first album has been commented upon, the 50th anniversary of John Cowper Powys's death has gone largely unremarked by the world at large. Powys died at home in north Wales on 17 June 1963, in his 91st year. It's probably true to say he was out of fashion even then - perhaps an unavoidable hazard when you live so long, and have a career lasting almost 70 (!) years. (Powys's first book, Odes and Other Poems, was published in 1896; his first novel, Wood and Stone, in 1915.) When commented on at all these days, it's usually to admit briefly that he is a writer who sharply divides critics one way or the other, from being called unreadable, pretentious and dated to being described as the only British writer who can hold a candle to Tolstoy and Dostoyevsky.

Pic: John Cowper Powys, around the time he wrote Wolf Solent (1929).

I am of the latter camp. Whether it's growing up halfway between Wales and Glastonbury, but Powys has always been a figure in my mental landscape, a sort of Easter Island head (he has the face for one) in the world of my imagination. Always there, whatever the weather, critical or literal. Few writers these days have the scope of Powys, who was at home in philosophy and criticism as he was in fiction, poetry and drama. (The only writer who comes to mind off the top of my head is the vastly different David Foster Wallace.) 'Epic', 'mythic' and 'mystical' are words that seem overused when mentioning JCP, but give you some idea of the Powys project, if I can call it that. A flavour of his work and outlook can be gleaned from this extract from Autobiography (1934):

"I touch here upon what is to me one of the profoundest philosophical mysteries: I mean the power of the individual mind to create its own world, not in complete independence of what is called "the objective world," but in a steadily growing independence of the attitudes of the minds toward this world. For what people call the objective world is really a most fluid, flexible, malleable thing. It is like the wine of the Priestess Bacbuc in Rabelais. It tastes differently; it is a different cosmos, to every man, woman, and child. To analyse this "objective" world is all very well, as long as you don't forget that the power to rebuild it by emphasis and rejection is synonymous with your being alive."

Despite a certain amount of critical neglect, much of JCP has now been made available again by the good offices of Duckworth and Faber. Some of the major novels from his great middle period are available from Duckworth, while Faber do a lot of the early and late work. The late novel Porius has also recently been published in its original form for the first time. General resources can be found on the Powys Society website

Wednesday, July 03, 2013

New Patrick Harpur Novel

I've been away for a month, and have returned to find that Patrick Harpur's new book The Savoy Truffle is just out from Skylight Press. The book, a novel, is black comedy about life in Surrey in the early 1960s (where the author apparently grew up). The title is, of course, a nod to the Beatles' song, and in a recent email, Patrick told me remembers seeing John Lennon's psychedelic Rolls often zipping past their house at odd hours. 

Very different territory from Patrick's early novels, the most well-known of which is Mercurius: The Marriage of Heaven and Earth (one of the best books I've ever read on the subject of alchemy), but the earlier The Serpent's Circle (a thriller about returned Cathars intent on revenge) and The Rapture (good review here), are also well worth seeking out. 

And of course, there are the three non-fiction books, which form a loose trilogy, Daimonic Reality, The Philosopher's Secret Fire and The Complete Guide to the Soul (The Secret Tradition of the Soul in the US).

If you like The Savoy Truffle, I strongly recommend you read everything else. (Heck, why not even search out Timetable of Technology!)