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Karl Glogauer

Behold the Man

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Karl Glogauer is a disaffected modern professional casting about for meaning in a series of half-hearted relationships, a dead-end job, and a personal struggle. His questions of faith surrounding his father's run-of-the-mill Christianity and his mother's suppressed Judaism lead him to a bizarre obsession with the idea of the messiah. After the collapse of his latest affair and his introduction to a reclusive physics professor, Karl is given the opportunity to confront his obsession and take a journey that no man has taken before, and from which he knows he cannot return. Upon arriving in Palestine, A.D. 29, Glogauer finds that Jesus Christ is not the man that history and faith would like to believe, but that there is an opportunity for someone to change the course of history by making the ultimate sacrifice.

First published in 1969, Behold the Man broke through science fiction's genre boundaries to create a poignant reflection on faith, disillusion and self-sacrifice. This is the classic novel that established the career of perhaps contemporary science fictionÂ's most cerebral and innovative author.

160 pages, Mass Market Paperback

First published January 1, 1969

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About the author

Michael Moorcock

1,003 books3,222 followers
Michael John Moorcock is an English writer primarily of science fiction and fantasy who has also published a number of literary novels.

Moorcock has mentioned The Gods of Mars by Edgar Rice Burroughs, The Apple Cart by George Bernard Shaw and The Constable of St. Nicholas by Edward Lester Arnold as the first three books which captured his imagination. He became editor of Tarzan Adventures in 1956, at the age of sixteen, and later moved on to edit Sexton Blake Library. As editor of the controversial British science fiction magazine New Worlds, from May 1964 until March 1971 and then again from 1976 to 1996, Moorcock fostered the development of the science fiction "New Wave" in the UK and indirectly in the United States. His serialization of Norman Spinrad's Bug Jack Barron was notorious for causing British MPs to condemn in Parliament the Arts Council's funding of the magazine.

During this time, he occasionally wrote under the pseudonym of "James Colvin," a "house pseudonym" used by other critics on New Worlds. A spoof obituary of Colvin appeared in New Worlds #197 (January 1970), written by "William Barclay" (another Moorcock pseudonym). Moorcock, indeed, makes much use of the initials "JC", and not entirely coincidentally these are also the initials of Jesus Christ, the subject of his 1967 Nebula award-winning novella Behold the Man, which tells the story of Karl Glogauer, a time-traveller who takes on the role of Christ. They are also the initials of various "Eternal Champion" Moorcock characters such as Jerry Cornelius, Jerry Cornell and Jherek Carnelian. In more recent years, Moorcock has taken to using "Warwick Colvin, Jr." as yet another pseudonym, particularly in his Second Ether fiction.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 501 reviews
Profile Image for Glenn Russell.
1,379 reviews12k followers
February 10, 2021

Oh, those New Wave SF novels written in the 60s and 70s - experimental, boundary pushing and out-and-out weird. We can think of such classics as The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch by Philip K. Dick, The Crystal World by J.G. Ballard, Camp Concentration by Thomas M. Disch and Inverted World by Christopher Priest. Michael Moorcock's 1969 Behold the Man is right up there, a 110-pager dripping with flaky, mind-bending weirdness, published as part of the SF Masterworks series - and for good reason.

However, please be forewarned - Behold the Man comes with two flashing red warning lights:

The first: similar to The Sacred Mushroom and the Cross (Jesus was an hallucinogenic mushroom) and The Passover Plot (a regular human schemes to be taken for the messiah), Michael Moorcock's book could be judged by those of the Christian faith as either offensive and in bad taste or as down right blasphemy.

The second: assuming a reader is familiar with the story of Jesus, the novel's unfolding drama is telegraphed in the first pages. Thus, for any reviewer, avoiding spoilers is next to impossible. So, if you would like to read Behold the Man prior to reading my spoiler-heavy review, go to the following website: Moorcock, Michael - Behold the Man - GEOCITIES.ws.

For me, Behold the Man is a provocative, highly philosophical exploration of the many dimensions of myth, religion and history, all within the context of one of the craziest bits of time travel ever imagined. Thank you, Michael Moorcock! Count me in as a new fan.

We're in 1970 and the tale centers around a Londoner by the name of Karl Glogauer who isn't exactly a happy-go-lucky kind of guy. Sure, he runs an occult bookshop he inherited from his parents and has a girlfriend, Monica, ten years his senior, but this sweetie who's a social worker with a background in psychology doesn't hesitate to point out his many shortcomings: he's overly emotional, indecisive, quick to anger, but above all else, Karl is masochistic with a messiah complex and puts way too much stock in Jungian psychology. And, to top it off, Karl is a Jew obsessed with Jesus and Christianity.

Karl and Monica bicker incessantly. Karl tells Monica he needs God. He also maintains there's great truth in myth, as Jung well knew, and religion is an expression of myth. But as a spokesperson for science and reason, Monica counters: religion is born out of fear and without fear, religion will die. Poor, poor, Karl. He has to admit "This age of reason has no place for me. It will kill me in the end." Famous last words, Karl, my boy.

Karl invites a Jungian discussion group to meet once a week in his occult bookshop. At the end of one of these evening meetings, a key member, rich, eccentric Sir James Headington, informs Karl confidentially that he's invented a time machine. "Karl went down to Banbury the next day. The same day he left 1970 and arrived in 28 A.D." That's it, no further explanation or details provided - the softest of the soft SF.

Karl finds himself southeast of Jerusalem, near the Dead Sea, among the Essenes, a mystical, acetic, peaceful Jewish sect. Karl reckons his arrival in his egg-shaped time machine must have struck the Essenes as truly extraordinary and miraculous but being a sect of hallucinating visionaries, they accepted it in stride. Anyway, he's thankful the Essenes peeled off his spacesuit and have taken him in.

No long thereafter, John the Baptist is on the scene. It bears mentioning, Michael Moorcock folds in passages from the Bible that undergird the various happenings in Karl's time travel. Events move apace until John wants to present Karl as the messiah. Karl agrees on the condition that John and the Essenes take him to where he landed (at this point Karl is thinking in terms of his return voyage). After all, he only wanted to travel back to this time and place to get a feel for what it would be like to live during the age of religion and among people of strong faith.

Alas, things take a decidedly different turn. Most especially when Karl, half-starved and wide-eyed, to all appearances a half-mad prophet, eventually journeys to Nazareth to meet the son of Joseph and Mary, to come face to face with Jesus.

But then the shock: "The madman, the prophet, Karl Glogauer, the time-traveler, the neurotic psychiatrist manque, the searcher for meaning, the masochist, the man with a death-wish and the messiah-complex, the anachronism, made his way into the synagogue gasping for breath. He had seen the man he had sought. He had seen Jesus, the son of Joseph and Mary. He had seen a man he recognized without any doubt as a congenital imbecile."

At this point Karl knows he must make a critical decision. After all, he would be bringing a myth to life, not changing history so much as infusing more depth and substance into history. And as Monica was always in the habit of telling him, he lived with unresolved obsessions and had an abnormal messiah complex.

As the saying goes, the rest is history.

British author Michael Moorcock, born 1939

"The time machine was a sphere full of milky fluid in which the traveler floated, enclosed in a rubber suit, breathing through a mask attached to a hose leading to the wall of the machine. The sphere cracked as it landed and the fluid spilled into the dust and was soaked up. Instinctively, Glogauer curled himself into a ball as the level of the liquid fell and he sank to the yielding plastic of the sphere's inner lining. The instruments, cryptographic, unconventional, were still and silent. The sphere shifted and rolled as the last of the liquid dripped from the great gash in its side." - Michael Moorcock, Behold the Man
Profile Image for BlackOxford.
1,085 reviews68.4k followers
October 24, 2021
The Question of a Personal Ethic

Acting into a new way of thinking is always more effective than trying to think into a new way of acting. Perhaps this is the secret Jesus wanted to convey. If so, it’s to be expected that he ended up where he did, on a gibbet. His actions created a new mode of thought. Unfortunately his followers went back to thinking instead of acting. This led, of course, to the same old rationalised actions.

Karl Glogauer is a devotee of Carl Jung. He knows the drill about actions creating reality. Thinking creates... well just more thought. So he inserts himself into a situation in which he must act differently. By literally putting himself in a time-capsule, he is transported to Roman Palestine. In light of his miraculous appearance on this “chariot from no-where” he is taken for the long-awaited Messiah by the locals. Glogauer does what he must; he acts his way into the role. He becomes the eternal Christ.

This is the essential paradox of the life of Jesus. It is based on a central idea - that ideas are created by actions. We are, or more accurately become, what we do and those we do it with. That is to say, we are deeply superficial. There is nothing real about us aside from the way we act with each other. So Karl attracted crowds not for what he said but for how he acted: “It was his sympathy that they responded to, rather than the words he spoke.” And this way of acting had a remarkable effect: “For the first time in his life, Karl Glogauer had forgotten about Karl Glogauer.”

Living this way is dangerous. To bring a myth to life means being, at best, the object of scorn; and, at worst, a threat to all those who use ideas, the devils within us, to oppress others. Reality can be discovered only after overcoming all ideas about it. Only then does it reveal itself... in death. And this, according to the original gospel of Mark (the oldest, ending at 16:8), is Jesus’s triumph - his ‘raising up’ onto the cross of his glory, over and over again.
Profile Image for Mark Lawrence.
Author 72 books51.7k followers
April 17, 2023
I read this shortly before reading Moorcock's 'The Shores of Death" (sidenote: I just typoed this 'The Shoes of Death' - which would be a cool title.) In the three years between Behold the Man and The Shores of Death Moorcock's work seems to have gained an order of magnitude in sophistication. This is actually one of his better written books - no small thing given that Moorcock's more serious efforts are quite something.

My 2* isn't the 'not quite as crap as 1*' kind of 2*, it's taken off the Goodreads hymn sheet. 2* = OK but not good (3*).

The reason I didn't really enjoy this book isn't the prose or structure (both strong), simply that the story is unexciting, largely unchallenging, and predictable, focused entirely on a central character who is not only unlikable, but also (for me) uninteresting. Moorcock does a good job of picking apart the main character's psyche ... but I didn't really care.

Quite likely in 1969 the challenge offered to religious ideas was far more radical, original, and shocking than in 2020. Possibly I'm damning this book for being imitated and if so I apologise. (I'm reminded here of a review (possibly spoof) that slags Lord of the Rings off for borrowing from Harry Potter).

Either way, the book lacked tension and felt dated, the latter hardly a crime for a book written in the 60s.

With the exception of the time travel element this book is wholly without fantasy/magical/sci-fi elements and appears to rest on considerable research into / knowledge of the bible and the history of Christianity. It may well still float the boat of the right reader.

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Profile Image for Manny.
Author 30 books14k followers
February 23, 2009
You know those science-fiction novels where they go back in time, and discover they've become some well-known historical character? Like Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency, where the hero finds out he's become the Person from Porlock. This novel takes the idea pretty much to its logical conclusion... not sure it's possible to trump becoming Jesus Christ.

It's well worth reading. Science-fiction writers are notorious for having great ideas and then blowing the execution (the Trout Complex, as it were), but this time Moorcock gets it right. I wonder if any brave director will try and film it some day?
Profile Image for Dan Schwent.
3,005 reviews10.6k followers
February 5, 2011
Karl Glogauer, lonely misunderstood misfit, reaches the end of his rope and volunteers to man an experimental time machine for a friend. Glogauer goes to A.D. 28 to witness the crucifixion of Jesus. Only, nothing is quite the way he remembers it from the Bible. John the Baptist is a revolutionary, Mary and Joseph's marriage isn't the way it should be, and as for Jesus...

While most people know Michael Moorcock from the Elric stories, for my money, the best Moorcock stories are the ones only tangently related to the Eternal champion saga. Gloriana is one, Dancers at the End of Time is another, and Behold the Man is a third.

Behold the Man tells two stories. One of Karl Glogauer's adventure in the Middle East nearly two thousand years ago, and the other is Glogauer's life from when his parents split when he was five. Moorcock guides us through the events in Glogauer's life that lead to him traveling back in time. The other thread shows Glogauer's travels and raises questions about identity and destiny. While the big plot twist is fairly predictable, it's power is undiminished.

Behold the Man is a very memorable story and worth a read, although the particularly religious minded should read with caution.
Profile Image for Mike (the Paladin).
3,144 reviews1,851 followers
November 10, 2014
Let me say first, that I am "usually" a Michael Moorcock fan. So....

I could not read this book. I came in contact with it back when I'd been reading all Moorcock's Eternal Champion books. So I want to explain why I can't do this book in detail. I believe in freedom of speech and as the old saying goes, "While I don't agree with what you say, I will defend to the death your right to say it." Some of you will not be effected by this book, others will be positively thrilled with it.

I am a Christian so while I adamantly defend the right of Moorcock to write this book and for it to be freely available, I think those who may be "offended" or shocked by it should know what they are picking up in advance. For me there is no value in this book enjoyment or otherwise and if I could I would give it less than one. That is a personal rating I give. I find no redeeming value here, others of course may.

The title comes from John 19:5 where Pilate says "Behold the Man" as he presents Jesus to the crowd.

Whatever the intent of Mr. Moorcock the book will be found offensive, painful, and even blasphemous by some. If you are indifferent or anti-Christian then the book may not bother you, or it may even please you. If you are a Christian I wanted you to be aware of the content.

*** I originally reviewed this in 2010 but noticed I'd included a big spoiler. I disliked the book so much I was just telling why and told much of the story.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Jon Nakapalau.
5,113 reviews728 followers
January 22, 2023
A very original time travel story...but some Christians may be offended by the 'Jesus' that is found. Questions of divinity and salvation are examined in a very unique way. Doctrinal positions are placed in context to faith; a problem that is/has been the seed of so much strife in religious observance throughout our collective existence.
Profile Image for Tom LA.
605 reviews235 followers
July 23, 2021
Behold the Man (1969) originally appeared as a novella in a 1966 issue of New Worlds; later, Moorcock produced an expanded version which is the one I read.

The title derives from the Gospel of John, Chapter 19, Verse 5: "Then Jesus came out, wearing the crown of thorns and the purple robe. And Pilate said to them Behold the Man."

Karl is a 20th century Londoner. This story begins with Karl's arrival in the Holy Land of AD 28, where his time machine, a womb-like, fluid-filled sphere, cracks open and becomes useless. By interpolating numerous memories and flashbacks, Moorcock tells the parallel story of Karl's troubled past in 20th century London, and tries to explain why he's willing to risk everything to meet Jesus. We quickly learn that Karl is a neurotic, self-centered, immature idiot.

I typically love time travel stories. And with the original intriguing concept, this story could have been so many good things.

But while it's engaging at times, and very readable, the author's heart was SO soaked in bitterness and cynicism and juvenile mischief when he wrote it that the final result is really poor. Every stereotypical anti-Christian trope is present. A superficial anger against the Christian religion runs through the entire work, and it really spoils what could have been a great book, whether it had taken a Christian stance or not.

Or maybe his wasn't really anger or bitterness, but just the same immature sense of rebellion against authority that leads a 14 years old kid to write obscene graffiti on the school walls.

And boy, are there "obscene graffiti" in this book!

The blasphemies are as "elegant" and "subtly intellectual" as the main character having sex with Mary, while a mentally ill, drooling Jesus sits there looking at them (!).

The whole thing is worse than low-brow, crass pub banter and it leaves a black stain of negativity in your brain.

Totally missed opportunity. Do not read it.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Susana.
490 reviews150 followers
March 10, 2020
(review in English below)

Um conceito fabuloso - que, só por si, quase valia as 5 estrelas - e um desenvolvimento admirável, que nos põe a cabeça a andar à roda.

A Nota do Autor, no final, é interessantíssima e ao mesmo tempo perigosa para livrólicos e livrólicas como eu.

Recomendadíssimo, excepto para cristãos fanáticos - ou não tivesse o autor recebido ameaças de morte quando esta história foi publicada nos Estados Unidos...

A fabulous concept - almost worth of the 5 star rating on its own - which is developed in an admirable way, making your head spin.

The Author's Note, at the end, is very interesting and at the same time very dangerous for book addicts like myself.

Highly recommended, except for Christian fanatics - there's a reason why the author received death threats when this story was published in the US.
Profile Image for Hande Kılıçoğlu.
173 reviews69 followers
October 11, 2018
İşte insan; insanlığın alışılagelmiş inançlarını ve zayıflıklarını hristiyanlık dini üzerinden ve zamanda yolculuk metaforuyla açıklama çabasıyla yazılmış bir bilimkurgu romanı. Baş karakterimiz olan Karl duygusal, hassas ve hayatı boyunca bu özelliklerinin acısını çekmiş, etrafı tarafından ezilmiş ve tatminsiz bir karakterdir. Cevap bulmayı istediği sorularla çeşitli mistiklerden, bilim insanlarından ve psikanalistlerden oluşan bir arkadaş grubuna katılır ve burada tanıştığı biri sayesinde zaman yolculuğu yapabilme şansına sahip olur. Yolculuk yaparak İsa peygamberin çarmıha gerilişini izlemek ister ama olaylar pek istediği gibi gitmez ve kendini bilinen tarihsel akışı gerçekleştirmek için feda ederken bulur. Bu arada geçmişi ve şimdisi arasında sürekli bağlantılar kuran karakterimiz en sonunda yaşamı pahasına sorularının cevaplarına erişir. Harika kişisel ve toplumsal eleştiriler ve çıkarımlar barındıran kitabı okumanızı şiddetle tavsiye ederim.
Profile Image for A. Raca.
739 reviews153 followers
July 6, 2019
"Yalnız olmak için her daim bir sebep vardır."

Profile Image for [Name Redacted].
797 reviews402 followers
October 29, 2014
This felt like a childish attempt to do what Kazantzakis and Graves did far better. I love many of Moorcock's books, but this one was hamfisted, pedantic and hopelessly adolescent in its approach to what could have been a very fascinating story. It felt less like a real literary work and more like a teenager's attempt to vent his spleen, the sort of thing you can imagine a youth scribbling furiously in his binder and then leaning back to admire with a smug, self-satisfied smirk because he believes himself (erroneously) to be the next Nietzche.
Profile Image for Michael Perkins.
Author 6 books376 followers
December 6, 2020
The author knows the Bible, and the setting in first century Palestine, better than most Christians I’m acquainted with.

I find the one-star reviews for this book ironic, given that the Bible is one of the greatest works of fantasy lit ever----dinosaurs on the Ark, Jonah and the Whale, walking on water, four conflicting Gospel accounts of the final days of Jesus---what other book claiming to be true requires any greater suspension of disbelief than the Bible?
Profile Image for Ömer.
Author 17 books277 followers
August 16, 2021
Çok ama çok uzun zamandır okuduğum en iyi şeylerden biriydi!
Profile Image for A. Dawes.
186 reviews55 followers
September 4, 2016
This has a very retro feel about it. It's the 60s, man, a time of beatnik philosophy. People psychologically grappling with their own sanity as they explore ideas about what it means to be human.

This work won't be for everyone. The protagonist, Karl, is an unsettled philosophical wanderer of the era. He brings so much intensity and insecurity to his relationships that he inevitably ensures they devolve into crappy self-destructive states.

Karl's world takes a dramatic turn though when he finds himself at the forefront of the birth of Christianity - literally the time of the supposed saviour. Yet Jesus is just a simpleton. And now Karl can either to choose to fulfill a role as the saviour, or, alternatively take the story in another direction. Will Karl play the role of saviour so that the Christian mythos remains influential throughout the ages?

You'll never see the final days of Jesus in the same way again.

Behold the Man is not for everyone's taste but I liked this novella from Moorcock. Controversial and ground breaking at the time, it is still regarded as a cult classic by many.
Profile Image for Nelson Zagalo.
Author 10 books333 followers
December 24, 2020
Vinha bem recomendado, a premissa era fantástica — alguém com uma máquina do tempo decide viajar até ao ano da crucificação de Jesus —, e se apresenta um rasgo brilhante na estrutura e na forma como esta proporciona o desvelar da história, acaba sendo algo excessivamente previsível.

De certa forma, senti aqui um pouco o que costumo sentir noutros livros de FC/Thriller e que é a dificuldade em lidar com as consequências das premissas fantásticas. Não basta ter ideias brilhantes, é preciso ser capaz de as manejar e levá-las a bom porto.
Profile Image for Kate Sherrod.
Author 5 books83 followers
May 13, 2019
Stop me if you've heard this one before. Jungian meets girl. Jungian loses religious/philosophical argument with girl. Jungian jumps into Time Machine to prove girl wrong about Jebus. Jungian blunders into being accepted as Jebus by denizens of the time to which he has traveled. Jungian further blunders by trying to reenact what he knows about Jebus. You know, to preserve history and biblical truth. Jungian gets crucified. Jungian never sees girl again.

I'm sure this was all very shocking back in the 60s when this was published. And I can see why Michael Moorcock got noticed for Behold the Man.* But really now it's just a curiosity.

I just couldn't resist the idea of reading this on Palm Sunday. And now I have. And yes, I got some chuckles; on the blasphenomenal humor scale this is somewhere between Monty Python's Life of Brian and Mikhail Bulgakov's The Master and Margarita. It's not as laugh-out-loud/thigh-slapping as the former, and not as intelligent and subtle as the latter, but it's a nifty way to pass an hour or two (at 124 pages, only those who try really, really hard to prolong the reading experience will find themselves spending any more time with it than that), provided you're not one of those types who take umbrage at, for instance, the suggestion that the real historical Jesus whom our time traveling Jungian backs into replacing was actually some kind of congenital hydrocephalic fetal alcohol syndrome imbecile, or that all of the cryptic sayings and parables attributed to Jesus are actually just half-baked, half-remembered scraps of folk wisdom, popular ethics and syncretic mysticism. Which yeah, this story does as well as any we might care to dream up as far as explaining why Christianity really seems like it stole the clothes of a bunch of earlier Eastern mystery cults and whatnot.

Not a bad read, but not one I'm going to press on people to read, either. And hey, I might even take a look at the sequel, Breakfast in the Ruins, sometime if it comes my way and I'm a bit desperate. But I'm not going to hunt it down or anything.

*And thank goodness he did. What would my life -- what would anyone's life -- be without Elric, Corum, Jerry Cornelius, Erekose, etc. etc. etc.? I shudder to contemplate it.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Juraj.
122 reviews4 followers
February 20, 2023
The madman, the prophet, Karl Glogauer, the time-traveller, the neurotic psychiatrist manqué, the searcher for meaning, the masochist, the man with a death-wish and the messiah-complex, the anachronism, made his way through the market place gasping for breath.
He had seen the man he had sought. He had seen Jesus, the son of Mary and Joseph.
He had seen a man he recognized without any doubt as

I wasn't expecting much from this novella at all. I wasn't in the mood to continue reading other stuff so I picked this off the shelf as it's quite short. Boy, was I not expecting it to be this good. Best comparison I can come up with is that one of the characters out of Milan Kundera's books travelled through time to meet Jesus.

Karl is extremely flawed narcissist drowning in toxic relationships and with nothing left to lose. So he decides to be guinea pig and gets stuck in the past one year before Jesus' crucifixion. But things aren't as they are suppose to be. Book description hints at it, it's obvious almost since the beginning. He needs to arrange historical events as they are remembered (more or less) because the real Jesus is not there to do it.

Karl's life is brutal but at the same time it's a dark comedy. Parts from Jesus' era are alternating with Karl's past in the 20th century. His childhood, adolescence and adulthood. His parents, his relationships with women. All mixed together with a few Bible quotes from apostles.

Some parts reminded me of Kundera's Immortality in their rawness and brutality that only life can bring and only a talented author can describe this well. The book definitely isn't for everyone. Hell, I dislike organized religion, think the notion of God as western religions see him makes no sense. And yet I absolutely loved this book because it's not about God. Not at all. It's about Man. A selfish flawed neurotic Man with messiah-complex. This is what surprised me the most. It's not shallow, it goes deep into Man's soul.

I've only read two of Elric's books so I did not expect Moorcock to be this great of a writer. I need to check more of his works. The guy wrote like crazy. He released 7 (S E V E N !) novels in 1976 on top of two edited collections. Even if all of them were as short as this book the number is insane. And it's not like he stopped before or after. Some authors should get inspired...
Profile Image for Marvin.
1,414 reviews5,330 followers
September 6, 2013
This was a re-read of one of my favorite science fiction novels. It's been a while so I forgot a lot. This re-read did not disappoint me. Moorcock's seminal time travel novel is part theological inquiry and part psychological novel. The plot is about a man who goes back in time to discover the real Jesus. However our "hero" is not altogether together and has a bit of a Messiah complex himself. Where this leads is part of the genius of Moorcock's tale. It is about identity and finding meaning in life, which may not always be a good thing. It's interesting that I decided to re-read this after finishing Reza Aslan's historical book, Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth since Behold the Man covers pretty much the same area except as speculative fiction. I'm not sure if I would recommend this to anyone with deep religious feelings but, for anyone else, it's a must-read.
Profile Image for Craig.
5,143 reviews122 followers
April 1, 2020
Behold the Man was quite the sensation when it appeared; it won the Nebula Award for best novel of the year, and people either loved it or hated it. (I note that the ratings here on Goodreads are almost all either very high or very low, all these years later.) Moorcock, at the time, was mostly known for his adventure fantasy works featuring Elric and Hawkmoon and like folks, as well as for being the editor of New Worlds and being the father of the New Wave in the field with his Jerry Cornelius stories. He was seen, somewhat paradoxically, as the Satanic anti-John Campbell, polluting the field at the same time as he was hailed as the rebirth of Edgar Rice Burroughs. Behold the Man, a thought-provoking time travel book, is arguably his best work, at the same time challenging the reader to question their beliefs and identity while at the same time telling a clear and compelling story. A true classic of the field.
Profile Image for Erik Graff.
5,031 reviews1,168 followers
September 15, 2011
I don't generally like Moorcock, particularly his fantasy novels, but this novella is an excellent story on at least two levels. First, it draws on the image of the Christ, both as portrayed in the gospels and as interpreted by scholarship. Here, Moorcock has done credible homework. Second, it is a fair psychological study, not only of the ostensible protagonist, a tortured modern, but also on who he becomes, namely, Jesus, the Anointed. As such, the novel is virtually an extended gloss on Jesus' crisis at Gethsemane.
Profile Image for Nicky.
4,138 reviews1,014 followers
August 26, 2014
Moorcock's Behold the Man is entirely different to his Elric books, or Gloriana, or anything else of his I've come across so far. Certain people might find it offensive because it undermines the sanctity of Jesus Christ, and tangles that story up in a lot of sexual and mental health hangups. Worse, the figure who becomes Jesus is not altruistic, but self-absorbed and narcissistic.

Still, I think it's a very interesting way of looking at the story, even if I don't like the way it portrays Christianity. In a way, it suggests the power of the Christian message: the pure message survives even through a human being's selfishness and fallibility. The time travel aspect isn't very prominent, and I don't think it was really written as science fiction -- speculative fiction, yes, but I wouldn't call it sci-fi. Really, it toys with ideas of identity, predestination, time loops, etc. Technology is not a prominent aspect.

It's an easy read, actually: I read it in about an hour. If you don't mind Moorcock playing with basics of Christianity, then you might well find it interesting.
Profile Image for Ronald.
204 reviews38 followers
August 4, 2015
I read this novella years ago, in a used paperback copy of a Year's Best Science Fiction anthology. A coworker/friend recently read this novella.

The protagonist, Karl Glogauer, is from our current time. Presented with the opportunity to go back in time, he decides to go to the time of Jesus. In this story, Jesus and Mary are drastically unlike what is presented in Bible. Karl Glogauer takes up the role of Jesus in the Gospels.

I've read the negative reviews of the book. Yes, Christians, and come to think of it, Muslims, might take offense
at the portrayal of Jesus and Mary in this story. But it seems to me that some of these reviewers miss the point that this novella is making. While this story not only denies the divinity of Jesus, but presents him in a unflattering light, the story is making the point that the ideals of Christianity are worthy of high esteem and that it address fundamental human needs. Here's another way of putting it: I once heard a non-Christian say that he would like to see Christians act more Christian.

That's what I got out of the story.
Profile Image for John.
1,203 reviews95 followers
June 30, 2019
Karl Glogauer goes back in time from 1970 to 28 A.D to see if the story of Jesus Christ is true. His time machine is destroyed on arrival and he is saved by John the Baptist and his followers. The story switches back to Karl’s unhappy childhood, failed love affairs and Monica who he had a love hate relationship.

Karl descends into madness and through himself creates the story of Christ. Interesting story and written well with extracts of the Bible. Worth a read.
Profile Image for Jersy.
808 reviews67 followers
March 15, 2020
The blurb is kind of spoilery, so all you need to know is that this book is about someone time traveling to see Jesus while his time there is paralleled with pieces of his earlier life that showcase his relationship to religion and his self-esteem issues.
The design of the time mashine is very original and makes me want to read more of Moorcocks books just for his futuristic ideas. The book itself focuses more on Glogauer's psychology and moments that had shaped him, which makes it uncomfortable to read at points but very fascinating nonetheless. Everything comes full circle at the end but still leaves the reader with much to think about.
Being written at the end of the 60s, it has a lot of weirdly sexual scenes in it, but in the context of the book it made sense for them to be unerotic and tense and I think it added to the story in a way that cannot be said for every book or movie from the time.
All in all, a very effective read. Absolutely not for everyone, but if you like the explorations of the human mind from that time period, you will very much appreciate this.
Profile Image for Ben Loory.
Author 24 books694 followers
August 26, 2016
kind of brilliant, even though it's obviously (and actually) a much-pumped-up short story (which also feels like it was written in about two or three weeks (probably so moorcock could pay for a shitload more books to read on a ton of various esoteric subjects)). never less than fun and often actually truly shocking, which i always find amazing-- almost never happens. it also has a chapter which begins "The madman came stumbling into the town" which is such a great line i am now going to steal it and write a short story with it as the opener.

moorcock is always great. lifelong fan.

Using a pulley, they began to haul the cross into a vertical position. Glogauer noticed that he was alone. No others were being crucified that day.
Profile Image for Μπάμπης M..
125 reviews10 followers
January 6, 2022
Ωραία ξεκίνησε η αναγνωστική μου χρονιά. Ο Καρλ Γκλογκάουερ, οπαδός του φημισμένου ψυχίατρου και ψυχαναλυτή Καρλ Γιουνγκ, Βάζει τον εαυτό του κυριολεκτικά σε μια χρονοκάψουλα και μεταφέρεται στη Ρωμαϊκή Παλαιστίνη το 28 μ.χ. Υπό το πρίσμα της θαυματουργής εμφάνισής του σε αυτό το μέρος, οι ντόπιοι τον περνάνε για τον πολυαναμενόμενο Μεσσία. Ο Γκλογκάουερ κάνει αυτό που πρέπει , παίζει με τον τρόπο του αυτόν τον ρόλο και γίνεται ο Μεσσίας Ιησούς Χριστός. «Ιδού ο άνθρωπος», ένα βιβλίο ταξιδιού στο χρόνο που προκαλεί σκέψη και προβληματισμό προκαλώντας τον αναγνώστη, ενώ ταυτόχρονα λέει μια ξεκάθαρη και συναρπαστική ιστορία.
Profile Image for Ivan Lutz.
Author 29 books125 followers
February 6, 2016
Ovakva ateistička priča mogla je proći u USA jedino šezdesetih. Vrlo hrabro zadiranje i "povijest" kršćanstva sa suludim krajem koji negira temelj kršćanske religije, a prikaz Isusa, ovog pravog Isusa je genijalan...
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