Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Porius” as Want to Read:
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview


4.27 of 5 stars 4.27  ·  rating details  ·  84 ratings  ·  21 reviews
"Porius stood upon the low square tower above the Southern Gate of Mynydd-y-Gaer, and looked down on the wide stretching valley below." So begins one of the most unique novels of twentieth-century literature, by one of its most "extraordinary, neglected geniuses," said Robertson Davies of John Cowper Powys. Powys thought Porius his masterpiece, but because of the paper sho ...more
Paperback, 752 pages
Published September 30th 2008 by Overlook Books (first published 1951)
more details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Porius, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Porius

Fallen by Lauren KateHush, Hush by Becca FitzpatrickCity of Bones by Cassandra ClareThe Luxe by Anna GodbersenA Great and Terrible Beauty by Libba Bray
Read It Because of The Cover
154th out of 234 books — 182 voters
The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. TolkienWatership Down by Richard AdamsThe Hobbit by J.R.R. TolkienA Game of Thrones by George R.R. MartinAlice's Adventures in Wonderland & Through the Looking-Glass by Lewis Carroll
Highbrow Fantasy Books
241st out of 358 books — 515 voters

More lists with this book...

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 351)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  rating details
Bryn Hammond
Interim review. I'm on p. 424, but just want to get this off my chest.

I have a problem with John Cowper Powys: I don't know where his allegiances are. What I strongly suspect is that he's a better person than me in that he doesn't have allegiances. In Atlantis, I was against the Olympian gods and on the side of the revolution, whether that were a revolt of women, of giants and monsters, or of an earlier set of gods. I'd have said he was, until the end when Atlantis, home of the revolution, turn
This is a very big book, which is usually the first thing one notices about it, but I have read it and will probably read it again. To enjoy it it might help to already have an interest in Powys' particular penchant for descriptive indulgence and proliferation of weird character-types, but I could also see how it's one of his most easily accessible books, one that could be enjoyed by anyone who has an interest in Arthurian Romances, this book being Powys' addition to that canon.
Holy cow! This book took some time to finish. I enjoyed it but I doubt I knew what was really going on. Everything was so symbolic and so thought deeply about and motivations changed constantly and I have no idea why some characters did what they did. But it isn't like I'm going to go back and read a 750 page book again just to try and catch those distinctions. This book took place in 499 AD so it was very earthy. The swearing consisted of the characters taking the Lord's name in vain but it was ...more
Roger Norman
JCP is unquestionably the finest British novelist of the twentieth century. This is the longest, most magnificent, strangest, most thought-provoking book I have ever read. Occasionally over-written and confusing, it is nonetheless a wonderful work of the imagination, marked by a depth of insight and an understanding of human psychology that rivals Dostoevsky.
Whew...tough going so far, but damn'd intriguing. John Cowper Powys, apparently, was a Modernist about whom no one felt mildly. Many critics seem to think he's a logorrheic with unhealthy views on sex and mysticism - fair point - while dudes like Henry Miller adored him. Whatever the case, "Porius" is, so far, a very weird book. I have the pre-unabridged version - found it at Myopic Books in Chicago, and it appears to be printed sometime between 1968 and 1979.

I'm only into the second chapter, b
Feb 29, 2008 Keith marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
Why I want to read it (from the Atlantic):

by John Cowper Powys (Overlook Duckworth)

In this novel, first published greatly abridged in 1951 and now painstakingly restored, the eccentric Powys produced a vision of northern Wales in the Dark Ages, specifically one week in October 499 A.D., so packed with characters, their inner lives, and their side stories that it threatens to burst its covers despite its now-ample (more than 700) pages. Part historical novel, part magic realism, part roman
Joe Frisino
One week in the life of a British prince in the year 399. A huge sprawling epic. I've read it three times and I'll read it again. No-one writes like John Cowper Powys.
Not a worse book than Owen Glendower, and Owen Glendower is probably my favorite novel.
Whew, done! I finished this book in agitation, simply to say that I've read it.

First off this gigantic behemoth of a book is so full of thought, that I couldn't think what that last thought was all about. I'm not even entirely sure I know what the gist of the book meant. I don't like that much.
Symbolism,.. I guess, but I don't find symbolism in cups and swords or chance encounters/circumstance.
Second its so primitive in its Christ beginnings, so as to misconstrue the whole Christian faith.. i
Nick Crawford
This work has it's fantastic, Powys moments. It just has 100ish page periods of writing scattered throughout that don't do much to reach any sort of these precious heights...This work was more like Atlantis than Glastonbury Romance. The enigmatic Merlyn (can't remember if it has a different spelling in this work) and the likewise elemental Porius are definitely landmark characters in Powys's corpus. That's where you can get the most out of this tome. I'd like to return to the work and delve thro ...more
A six month effort for me...and indeed, a very challenging read. There is all of the raw material for a great novel here, and many episodes of superb historical, psychological, and philosophical literature, but Powys cannot sustain these very long. The most difficult aspect is the sleepwalking narration and easily distracted internal monologues that dominate the entire narrative...everything is many times clouded and shrouded over with very foreign symbolism. Porius reads like the Eumaeus episod ...more
Fred Wellner
I actually read the OP Colgate version, the first uncut edition. Definitely my favorite book. Not a single wasted character, and the pace of this large novel is pleasurably slow, the way one would eat at a five-star restaurant. It's a no-pretense story set in the dark ages, subtly philosophical, rich in unique situations that reflect history, local Welsh mythology, and human nature both tragic and humorous.

If there is just one book to read in the world...
Oleg Kagan
I started this book because John Cowper Powys was well regarded by intellectuals and writers that I respected and put it down because the whole first chapter was the protagonist looking out over his lands. It is true, Powys can compose an intoxicating sentence -- there were just too many of them. I read a few chapters of this behemoth but could not bring myself to plow through the other 600 pages. So sorry.
The strangest book I've ever read... A dark-age epic with a writing style that calls to mind James Joyce (my un-expert opinion)... If you like history and philosophy and have a long attention span by all means go for it... However, if you aren't prepared to be as confused when you finish Porius as you were at its beginning then steer clear... Ultimately though, a book that deserves to be read and pondered
Aaron Carson
I'm having trouble finishing this one. I slowed, found myself having difficulty reading it, even on the toilet, and eventually ground to a halt. The rhetoric is way too cumbersome for me, and the sybolism is opaque. It does not carry a particularly Celtic atmosphere, in my opinion, and I couldn't find a character I liked. This best part, for me, is the cover.
I loved this book but, of course, I love all things Arthurian. It is not a fast read so, unless you are ready to commit, I would not enter into it lightly. Powys had such a knack for recreating a magical, wondrous ancient Wales similar to the world of the Mabinogi. If you like getting inside the head of a character, try this one out.
What can I possibly write about this book in this itty-bitty space and unleavening atmosphere. Porius is the magnum opus no one has ever heard of. Read Porius. Here are more reasons why.
Jeff Bursey
For a full review of this and Descents of Memory, go to:
Wordy, often maddeningly obscure, but ultimately worth the pain.
Very slow going and a bit on the confusing side, but good!
Truly sui generis. What a writer!
Laura Lukács
Laura Lukács marked it as to-read
Nov 16, 2015
Sandra marked it as to-read
Nov 09, 2015
Jonfaith marked it as to-read
Nov 01, 2015
Chris Zull
Chris Zull marked it as to-read
Oct 28, 2015
Erik marked it as to-read
Oct 16, 2015
Rachel marked it as to-read
Oct 16, 2015
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • The Last Pendragon
  • The Book of the Sword (Hallowed Isle, #1)
  • The Light beyond the Forest: The Quest for the Holy Grail
  • Merlin's Ring
  • The Prize in the Game (Tir Tanagiri #3)
  • The Master of Hestviken
  • Beloved Exile (Firelord, #2)
  • Celtika (The Merlin Codex, Book 1)
  • The Hedge of Mist (The Tales of Arthur, #3)
  • A Coalition of Lions (The Lion Hunters, #2)
  • Queen of the Summer Stars (Guinevere, #2)
  • The Idylls of the Queen: A Tale of Queen Guenevere
  • Pilgermann
  • In Winter's Shadow
Powys was born in Shirley, Derbyshire, where his father was vicar. His mother was descended from the poet William Cowper, hence his middle name. His two younger brothers, Llewelyn Powys and Theodore Francis Powys, also became well-known writers. Other brothers and sisters also became prominent in the arts. John studied at Sherborne School and Corpus Christi College, Cambridge, and became a teacher ...more
More about John Cowper Powys...

Share This Book

No trivia or quizzes yet. Add some now »