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Aegypt (The Aegypt Cycle #1)

3.84  ·  Rating details ·  1,542 Ratings  ·  163 Reviews
There is more than one history of the world.

Before science defined the modern age, other powers, wondrous and magical, once governed the universe, their lore perfected within a lost capital of hieroglyphs, wizard-kings, and fabulous monuments, not Egypt -- but Ægypt.

What if it were really so?

In the 1970s, a historian named Pierce Moffett moves to the New England countrysid
Kindle Edition
Published (first published March 1st 1987)
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3 and a half... I think?

So before I get into the review, a few things you need to know about this book. This is not a book for everyone. It's complicated, it requires the reader to stop and think really hard constantly, there's little to no "external" plot, but what's going on inside the characters is hugely important. To read Crowley's prose, you need to be focused and awake: if you miss so much as a sentence, entire pages will stop making sense. Avid readers of classical literature and writers
Mindy McAdams
Jun 21, 2011 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 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 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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
Mar 22, 2009 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,
Nov 16, 2008 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 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 03, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 that 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 t
Jul 22, 2009 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 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 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 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 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Update: there is some genuinely beautiful writing here. Crowley crafts images and scenes that for me are exceptionally vivid. A joy to revisit.

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 taug
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 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 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
не зашло ((
Oct 26, 2016 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jul 04, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I loved this book. Not only did it include invented works of historical fiction about Shakespeare, John Dee, and Giordano Bruno, the present-day "philosophical romance" was perfectly beautiful. For example, a summer night's party harkens back to paradisaical innocence. It's dreamy and a little hard to follow, but that's how it is, isn't it?
And the ideas... as good as any philosophy book. Better, because form and content are so intertwined. What is history? What does it mean that humans are so in
Is there more than one history of the world? The first volume in the Hermetic Ægypt Cycle contains books within books, history and magick, astrology and ligatures. It is a baffling book.
"For it wasn't a good gook 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."
Little, Big is one of my all-time favorite books. The Solitudes less so. I still plan on reading
Wonderful prose, frustrating lack of plot. The premise is cool: What if Renaissance scientific theories--alchemy, hermeticism, weird astronomical models--are true? But then it's like Indiana Jones never leaves the damn campus. Maybe things pick up in the sequels, but the protagonists were so lackluster that I doubt I'll continue. The excerpts from the historical novels they both read, featuring John Dee, Giordano Bruno, and Shakespeare, are far more compelling, and I wish that this book had been ...more
Mark Bell
Jul 06, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
One of the best fantasy novels by an American, and as Harold Bloom might say, our response to the Alice books, along with Little, Big. Though the first of a series (the whole thing worth reading), works well as a standalone. Beautiful language, fascinating characters, and enchanting concepts. A masterpiece.
May 29, 2017 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: could-not-finish
Arrrrrrgh!!!!! So frustrating. I really cared about the characters but could not get past the long rambles. When I finally gave up on this book I had read for an hour and had no idea what Crowley was trying to accomplish.

I loved Little, Big and Four Freedoms but this one is just too much.

If it's not fun I have to put it down for now.
Jun 28, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Not my thing, but I finished it.
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
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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
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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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