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Aegypt (The Aegypt Cycle #1)

3.85  ·  Rating Details ·  1,505 Ratings  ·  153 Reviews
Does the world have a secret history, encoded in myth and legend, reflected in the very windings of our brains? Born with the talents to be a real historian, but clinging to a minor teaching job, Pierce Moffett watches the great Parade of the ’60s go by him, and wonders. He’s still wondering years later when, jilted and newly jobless, he gets off a bus by chance in the Far ...more
Hardcover, 390 pages
Published March 1st 1987 by Spectra Books
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Mindy McAdams
Jun 21, 2011 Mindy McAdams rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Lovers of fantastic (as in "fantasy") literature
So you have read The Solitudes or (this is the same book) Aegypt, and you're wondering whether you'd like to read the other three books in this tetralogy (The Aegypt Cycle). So -- no spoilers -- here's what I can tell you:

Pierce Moffett and the people of Blackbury Jambs remain prominent in all four volumes, and the thread that runs from start to finish is Pierce's little life -- his flawed, sad, typical, and yet inspiring, often challenging, life as a flawed and ultimately redeemable, forgivable
Sep 06, 2011 M rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This cuts my soul the way prime John Crowley always does, but this book takes that stream of inspiration to its most fantastically baroque consequences. This is the author of "Little, Big" writing both "Foucault's Pendulum" and something like the "Quicksilver" books simultaneously. With some borrowed tone from "Against the Day." Doesn't matter that only one of those books had yet been written.

There is more than one history of the world.

This is an absurdly self-referential love letter to kooky fr
Feb 06, 2017 Pavle rated it it was amazing
Shelves: preletači
Objavljena par godina nakon Kraulijevog Little Big-a, Aegypt (odn. The Solitudes kakav je naslov Krauli želeo da nosi ovaj roman, ali izdavač je bio bezobrazan) je prirodna evolucija tema načetih u prethodno pomenutom romanu. Magija sećanja, Hermes Triput-veliki (sl. prevod) i njegova učenja hermetizma: neki drugi, posebniji svet koji se krije u ovom našem.

Čudna struktura koja prati dva stvarna lika i dva semifiktivna (Djordano Bruno i Džon Di, likovi dva romana-unutar-romana istorijske fikcije)
Prof X
Nov 19, 2012 Prof X rated it did not like it
A collection of unlikable, mildly revolting characters, do a lot of thinking, a bit of drugs, some solid ruining of their own lives, and occasionally have sex/affairs and/or randomly end up in pornos. Also, there's something about maybe how the old magical stories might be true even though they're false, which is repeated over and over throughout the book, but never actually gets any further than that. An utterly baffling book that wastes everyone's time. Now that you've read this synopsis, you ...more
Tim Pendry

Despite all the awards and claims, this is probably going to be a fundamentally disappointing book to anyone who is not a dedicated literature major.

Admittedly, it is only the first colume of an ambitious tetralogy but such a volume should make you want to read the next in sequence. My instinct was not to waste a mature life by doing so.

So what is wrong here? There is no doubt that it is well crafted (though with all the introspective confusions that seem to be de rigueur with the late twentieth
Nov 16, 2008 Chris rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: people who like A. S. Byatt
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jason Pettus
Feb 13, 2008 Jason Pettus rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
(My full review of this book is much longer than GoodReads' word-count limitations. Find the entire essay at the Chicago Center for Literature and Photography [].)

So to even begin understanding today's essay, you need to first understand the following -- that what we now know as modern "science," back when it was invented in the 1500s, was in fact mostly a religious pursuit when it was first created. See, such deep thinkers back then ultimately wanted to be closer to God, and that
Mar 22, 2009 Vicky rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Toward the end of this very strange and ingenious novel, the author reviews it himself. The hero, Pierce Moffett, has come across an unpublished manuscript by a deceased author, and it sounds very much like The Solitudes itself:

"For it wasn't a *good* book at all, Pierce supposed, considered as a book, a novel; it was a philosophical romance, remote and extravagant, without much of the tang of life as it really must have gone on in the world--as it really *had* gone on if you meant *this* world,
Jul 22, 2009 Karlo rated it liked it
Shelves: fantasy, alt-history
No quite sure how to comment on this book; it was a long read for me, which is usually a sign that I didn't like it. In this case, I would say that it took me longer because it was a difficult read for me.

The author utilizes a book within a book conceit (at one point 4 regressions deep) that left me struggling to understand the overall thrust of the book.

In the end, I'm not sure if I understood what Crowley was trying to get across. I have 3-4 candidates for that understanding, but none is suf
Jan 03, 2008 Aaron rated it really liked it
This book will blow your noodle with its investigation into the notion that the world was once totally different than it now is, and that it was possible, during a time, to actually make lead into gold and build a perpetual motion machine. Alas, that knowledge is now lost for good and can never be recovered. Crazy shit.
Dec 23, 2009 Consuelo rated it really liked it
Aún no puedo rankear este libro, ni decido si lo amé o si no me gustó. De todas formas, a medida que pasan los dias, como que me gusta mas. Y hay que leerlos todos para tener una minima idea. Se nota mucho que esto es la primera parte de un solo libro.

Esto se trata (creo), de un profesor de historia llamado Pierce Moffett (Aquí parentesis. En la contratapa dice "fracasado". Quienes fuimos a una facultad de ciencias sociales y estamos semi-cesantes sabemos que tener un trabajo de planta en una un
May 15, 2013 Kevin rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
Once upon time, earlier this year, when I had hinted at my excitement to begin reading this series, my brother asked, " what's it about?" My answer then, as it kinda is now, was "well...erm..."

The Solitudes (or Aegypt, if you have an earlier edition) is the first of four parts in the Aegypt cycle/series/really long novel by John Crowley. It is also his grand work, where all the themes of his other books and short stories were mostly preparation for this work. And it shows, those who have
Aug 21, 2011 g rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantastical
Pierce Moffat is a down-and-out historian who becomes hip to a recurring historical phenomenon, a sort of crossroads in time, when the history of the world could move in an infinite number of directions but ultimately settles on one, its previous history entirely subsumed into the next. His thesis and search center around a lost civilization called Aegypt (not to be confused with Egypt), whose thinkers are founders of the Hermetic tradition that later influenced occultists Giordano Bruno, John D ...more
Sep 11, 2014 Susan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It's been a long time since I marked so many passages and so many new vocabulary words in a novel. Re-reading this book 30 years later was unexpectedly a completely different and new experience, and I wonder if it can only truly be appreciated by those who are old enough to "experience the sharp sense that their lives are in two halves, and that their childhoods, on the far side, lie not only in the past but in another world". The late 70s setting feels like another world at this point, and only ...more
Jun 30, 2008 Michael rated it it was amazing
When I first read this book (under its original title _Aegypt_) I greatly enjoyed it but I didn't have a mature enough perspective to get the most out of it. I also didn't know there was a sequel, and so when I read the third book in the sequence (_Daemonomania_) I was completely lost.

There is another history of the world, concurrent with the history taught to you in school, and Pierce Moffett seeks to chronicle this secret history (peopled by Giordano Bruno, John Dee, and Will Shakespeare among
May 29, 2011 Pariskarol rated it it was ok
I love John Crowley, author of my #1 favorite book of all time (Little, Big), but these other books he did are just not all that interesting to me.

In "Aegypt," Crowley tells the same story from another of his books, "Of Love and Sleep," (which wasn't that great either) from a different point of view. And now I see there are two more to follow? And it's a "cycle"??

It's so strange to me how authors get enamored of a story or a setting or a cast of characters and just write an incontinent five se
Nov 22, 2007 Augustapalmer rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone who likes alternative histories
Just re-read this and highly recommend it. This series of four books argues that "there is more than one history of the world." In fact, we each make up our own. In particular, these books suggest that history has a series of hairpin curves which completely alter our perception of the past as well as the present. Moments like the Renaissance and the 1960s dredged up ancient texts and opened up a wide range of possibilities that closed down in ensuing decades. The book has amazing characters and ...more
Kelly McCubbin
Nov 20, 2007 Kelly McCubbin rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Everyone
Possibly the most formative book I've ever read. The main character, Pierce Moffat, feels so familiar to me that it was easy for Crowley's brilliant prose to influence how I saw the world.
Often compared to Robertson Davies in his use of history and sense of detail, Crowley actually leaves the old master behind with the sheer world-cracking scope of the piece.
Intellectually demanding, but rewarding beyond belief.
This is the beginning of a four book series which was completed this year and yet thi
Linda Robinson
Aug 28, 2009 Linda Robinson rated it it was amazing
Intriguing and unforgettable. Crowley came so close to allowing the reader's mind to change realities, it's almost a window into a different dimension. So close. Periodically I reread the books to see if there might be some thread I've missed.

"...attempt a book composed of groups, ambiguous but clear, great solitudes that look on and look away from each other; a book solemn and darkly bright and joyous in its achievement; a book empty and infinite at its center."
Jun 06, 2016 Annie rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
не зашло ((
Mar 03, 2017 Jane rated it really liked it
This novel requires the reader to give it thought and patience in order to absorb its multiple layers. The simplest description I can give it is that it is a strange combination of any novel by Dan Brown and the first novel in The Magicians trilogy. Aegypt treads a line between fantasy and quantum physics, and its theme is truth and history can vary with time, data, and the observer. It's also about coming of age in America, and a good chunk of it is historical fiction.

Ursula Le Guin said that C
Oct 26, 2016 Muzzy rated it did not like it
It hurts to write this, but I can't remember a letdown as big as Aegypt. Because I loved Little, Big and recommend it to everyone, I was expecting so much more from Crowley. This book is bad.

Crowley is at his best when dealing with the occult and esoteric history. But then he interrupts with dull scenes from the daily life of baby boomers driving around and running errands. There's a very long scene of a hippie party by a lake in the woods, an event where absolutely nothing happens. Characters
Despite their vastly different subject matters, each of John Crowley's books furthers his perennial project: imbuing with a touching reality the notion that there is another world parallel to ours. In Little, Big, this is Faerie; in Great Work of Time, it's forking timestreams; the relevant world in Engine Summer is too arcane to even explain. In Aegypt, it is essentially the occult, the stuff of magic and astrology; angelology and fortune telling. For me, this is a much tougher sell: I have a n ...more
Chris Chester
Dec 30, 2012 Chris Chester rated it liked it
Shelves: nerd-fiction
I have to confess that I was stumped by this one.

Coming to Crowley as I have through Little, Big and Engine Summer, I was expecting some blissfully ambiguous fantasy to emerge when the main character Pierce Moffett stepped off a bus, abandoned the track of the life that he knew, and followed an old friend into a green mountain town.

Don't let the Arthur C. Clarke and World Fantasy Award nominations fool you: this is not a work of fantasy, not really.

On it's surface, it's a very low temperature, s
Apr 03, 2007 Mason rated it it was amazing
Finished on May, 1st, 2007. 5 stars. Reading again
Finished again on Oct 24, 2014 - still 5 stars

some quotes I particularly liked:

"He began to abandon--by degrees, and without ever quite admitting it to himself--the attempt to construct an account, a vademecum for his kids on their pilgrimage; anyway that account had grown suddenly too huge to be squeezed into the compass of an ordinary daylit history course, it needed a course no a college of its own. He went on teaching, but his path had forked
Aug 15, 2007 Brooke rated it liked it
Shelves: 2008, general-fiction
There is more than one history of the world - or so John Crowley says repeatedly in Aegypt (original titled The Solitudes, apparently), the first in a four-book series.

I have to admit, I almost didn't make it through. The first 1/3 of the book is sloooow and pretentious. I hate leaving books unfinished, though, so I plowed ahead. Once Crowley finishes laying out his thesis and starts moving along, it gets better. Still so very pretentious, but better.

It skips back and forth and up and down bet
Dec 20, 2007 David rated it it was ok
I eagerly approached this book on the recommendation of a couple of friends. However, Aegypt wasn't all that I hoped it would be. The main character, Pierce Moffett, is a history professor who discovers the symbolic and mythological underpinnings of the history that he has studied for so long. He becomes fascinated by Hermetics and the works of Dee and Bruno. The portions of the book dedicated to Moffett's exploration of these subjects are excellent. The writing is delightful and fanciful, and ...more
Anneke Dubash
I am about half way through the book and am enjoying it. However, I find that, unlike "Little, Big", it isn't moving along as swiftly as I would like. I find myself dozing off in parts, particularly in the bits which SHOULD be interesting, where he is laying out the whys and wherefores of Ægypt...

However, I persevere.

Interestingly enough, I had never heard of Dr. John Dee before and the other evening, I was watching a documentary of odd things at the British Museum. I switched away at a commerc
Mar 01, 2015 Diarmid rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: slipstream
This is the first in the four book Ægypt series, the first book also having been published as 'The Solitudes' , and the rest of the series being Love and Sleep, Daemonomania and Endless Things.

It's a novel of ideas which is difficult to describe in a few words, following a historian in the 1970s who embarks on a book about the hidden histories of the world, interspersed with stories centring on Dr Dee and Giordano Bruno. It's also a very literary novel, of books within books and using the house
Sep 28, 2013 Ralph rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
UPDATE May 23th, 2015:
Just re-read this one, almost exactly a year since the first time. Still excellent. My favorite quote:
The last wish: the only wish, in fact. That things could be, not as they are, but in some way different instead. Not better, really, or not better in all ways; a little larger maybe, more full of this and that, but mostly just different. New. That I, Pierce Moffett, could know that it had once been as it was and is that way no longer, that I could know it to have once been
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Librarian Note: There is more than one author in the Goodreads database with this name. See this thread for more information.

John Crowley was born in Presque Isle, Maine, in 1942; his father was then an officer in the US Army Air Corps. He grew up in Vermont, northeastern Kentucky and (for the longest stretch) Indiana, where he went to high school and college. He moved to New York City after colle
More about John Crowley...

Other Books in the Series

The Aegypt Cycle (4 books)
  • Love & Sleep (The Aegypt Cycle, #2)
  • Daemonomania (The Aegypt Cycle, #3)
  • Endless Things (The Aegypt Cycle, #4)

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“Serenity. Now you could wish for that, naming no conditions: a permanent inner vacation, escape made good. To somehow have this motionlessness that he drew in with the sweet air he inhaled for his inward weather always.

But there were problems too with wishing for moral qualities, serenity, large-mindedness. The interdiction (which Pierce thought obvious) against wishing for such things as artistic abilities -- sit down at the piano, the Appassionata flows suddenly from your fingertips -- applied in a way to wisdom too, to enlightenment, to heart-knowledge, useless unless earned, the earning of it being no doubt all that it consisted of.”
“In silvergreen rainy April they went down to Glastonbury on the long straight roads ...” 4 likes
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