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Fourth Mansions

4.03  ·  Rating details ·  288 ratings  ·  26 reviews
Fourth Mansions was inspired by Teresa of Ávila's Interior Castle, & contains quotations from the book, which quotations Lafferty uses as chapter headings. The Interior Castle is a metaphor for an individual's soul; its different rooms, different states of the soul. In the middle of the Castle the soul is in the purest state, which equals Heaven. Lafferty uses more complex sym ...more
Mass Market Paperback, Science Fiction Special 24590, 252 pages
Published 1969 by Ace
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Average rating 4.03  · 
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Nate D
Jul 04, 2012 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: badgers, toads, and unfledged falcons
Recommended to Nate D by: serpents
R.A. Lafferty is a strange writer. He doesn't really seem to deal in true science fiction stories, unless deliberately working within such tropes, as in his resetting of the Odyssey in space, so much as mapping elaborate personal systems into semi-genre action and recounted crackpot theories, both found and constructed-to-order. Here, he traces an ascending spiral/fountain/vortex of secret world-governing forces and the cyclic structures of human progress at every level. There's a mind-weave, th ...more
Sep 08, 2015 rated it really liked it
Despite it having been given pride of place in Scottish critic David Pringle's "Modern Fantasy: The 100 Best Novels," and despite the fact that it has been sitting on my bookshelf for many years, it was only last week that I finally got around to reading R.A. Lafferty's 1969 cult item "Fourth Mansions." The author's reputation for eccentricity, both in terms of subject matter as well as writing style, had long intimidated me, I suppose. But just recently, Jen, one of the managers of NYC sci-fi b ...more
4.0 to 4.5 stars. Brilliantly written, very funny and very, very strange. In other words, a CLASSIC R.A. Lafferty novel.

Nominee: Nebula Award for Best Science Fiction Award (1971)
Nominee: Locus Award for Best Science Fiction Award (1971)
Apr 22, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: conspiracy kids, mystics, brain weavers, everybody who loves really good writing
Shelves: thegood_s_tuf_f
If you've never read anything by R.A. Lafferty, please do as soon as you can. I recommend starting with his short fiction, a few examples of which are available online at []. (By the way, can anybody give me some tips on formatting here? HTML doesn't work and the advice in the sidebar seems not to either.)

Fourth Mansions is a shaggy badger story starring an improbably likeable young reporter wit
Oct 22, 2008 rated it it was amazing
It begins thus:


There is entwined seven-tentacled lightning. It is fire-masses, it is sheets, it is arms. It is seven-coloured writhing in the darkness, electric and alive. It pulsates, it sends, it sparkles it blinds?
It explodes!
It is seven murderous thunder-snakes striking in seven directions along the ground! Blindingly fast! Under your feet! Now! At you!
And you! YOu who glanced in here for b
Apr 09, 2019 rated it liked it
I used to think Lafferty was just for show. Now, I’m not so sure.
Keith Davis
Nov 26, 2009 rated it really liked it
A young man becomes involved with four separate conspiracies to control the world. You don't read Lafferty for the plots though, you read him for his crazy storytelling.
brian dean
Jun 29, 2011 rated it it was amazing
This is a wonderfully weird book.
Robert Wigard
Mar 20, 2017 rated it really liked it
My first reading of this book I did without reading St. Theresa of Avila's The Interior Castle on which Fourth Mansions is based. My second reading will have her work as the backdrop.

The opening of this book is the best opening ever. It was this opening that turned me into an avid Lafferty fan - I was snake bit!

That said, I found it hard to follow along. The sequence of events didn't always make sense to me and I think that is because I was missing some background and not only of Th
May 16, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Wow, folks...this book. This book. This is the second novel I've read of his, with many short stories and a few essays in between. Fourth Mansions is the most like reading a really good Lafferty story, somehow maintaining the intensity and light-yet-deadly tone, and still remaining cohesive as a novel. Lafferty isn't for everyone--his style and dialog either charm & delight you or annoy & exhaust you--and while this may or may not be his best work, it is certainly the most HIS. I'm dazzl ...more
Jan 19, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
nice to read a 'sci fi' author with an actual imagination and genuinely bizarre ideas and attention to language.
John Heinz
Oct 09, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Mr Lafferty describes worlds and characters that are profoundly different from what other authors can describe. Places that we may or may not live in, or near, if we decide to look. Strange histories and powers or abilities abound, and nothing is quite as it seems. I cannot describe the plot, one must read this with an open mind.
Apr 15, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: favorites
Somewhere between THE CIRCUS OF DR. LAO and THE MAN WHO WAS THURSDAY, and quite quite wonderful. Or so my memory tells me.
Jul 30, 2017 rated it it was amazing
what the heck
Damian Stephens
Apr 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing
The Joyce of Weird Fiction! I lived down the street from Lafferty for many years...and didn't start reading him until after he died. The tears still flow---oceans' worth!
Perry Whitford
Jan 16, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
"Oh, it's all allegory and beyond the comprehension of a flatlander."

That's just a typical throwaway line from Fourth Mansions, the like of which Lafferty tosses out here and there at the rate of about four or five a page, yet I can't think of a better way to describe the way I feel when I read (or in this instance, reread) one of his books.

He may be occasionally beyond my comprehension, but he's also heaps of fun. With Lafferty, almost every line is either a joke or a deep rhetorical question,
Tim Hicks
Aug 06, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: fantasy
Someone else called this a "shaggy badger story" and that sounds about right.

Just re-read it after many years. There's still no doubt that Lafferty was brilliant, but the book lost me about 3/4 through. Foley's grand adventure, and the unfolding of his ability to deal with almost anything, were great. But as he meets up with the real powers involved, the book degenerates into a philosophy seminar.

I don't require slam-bang action, explosions and car chases, but I do want the charact
Jim Mann
Sep 30, 2015 rated it really liked it
Lafferty's Fourth Mansions is an energetic, rambling, and strange novel. It moves ahead with a bizarre narrative force, then moves sideways with some of the same force, betore jolting ahead again.

A reporter who we are several times told is not very bright has been pushed by a strange miind-meld of people to investigate an immortal, or perhaps group of immortals. Along the way he encounters vagrants, called patricks, who guard the gates to the universe, a person who may or may not be his childho
Erik Graff
Nov 30, 2009 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: Lafferty fans
Recommended to Erik by: Rick Strong
Shelves: sf
My next door neighbor in Loose Hall during freshman year at Grinnell College shared a liking for science fiction. His appreciation of the genre was more mature than mine. I had been reading the stuff since childhood, but other than a few big names like Clarke and Asimov, I barely paid attention to whom I read. My reading was based on book availability and, except for Andre Norton, I would read almost anything. Rick introduced me to R.A. Lafferty, Robert Sheckley and others--many of them quite fu ...more
Jan 27, 2015 rated it really liked it
It has been a couple of months since I finished reading this, and I have forgotten much of what happens in the book (it is a strange and murky work). I do however have strong “impressions” that arise in my mind when I think of it. Strong moods and emotions are built throughout, and while there were plenty of passages without focus, the majority of the book is strong, and you will find it difficult to find anything else with this style of weird.
Lisa Ferreira
Jan 01, 2014 rated it really liked it
It's hard to describe the effect of reading R.A. Lafferty, as it tends to screw with your sense of space and time. The characters in Fourth Mansions exist and interact on multiple strange levels, which often merge and twist around each other, and keeping up with these larger-than-life meta-physicists is often mind-bending, but worth it.
Jul 13, 2012 rated it liked it
I loved Okla Hannali and abandoned Past Master. So I was a little worried about this one but by around page 40 I was in to it. A very strange book - might appeal to those who liked the Illuminati Trilogy.
Dec 09, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: science-fiction
Very entertaining.
Nov 13, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: port-royal
Vraiment bizarre mais intéressant.
Loren Reynolds
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James Brantner
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Jason Lesher
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Goodreads Librari...: Fourth Mansions (Bart Books, 1988) 2 13 Jun 05, 2018 11:16AM  

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Raphael Aloysius Lafferty, published under the name R.A. Lafferty, was an American science fiction and fantasy writer known for his original use of language, metaphor, and narrative structure, as well as for his etymological wit. He also wrote a set of four autobiographical novels, a history book, and a number of novels that could be loosely called historical fiction.
“There was supervised recreation. This is the original contradiction of terms. It was for making suggestions about supervised recreation that the devil was cast into hell; any other account you have heard is false.” 1 likes
“I finally saw the whole conspiracy standing as plain as an elephant in the street; also the conspiracy was admitted to me in great detail by one of the princes of the conspiracy."
"Bad, Smith, very bad."
"If one of the inmates should come to you right now, Doctor, and tell you it was raining outside, you'd say 'Bad, very bad', and make damning marks on his record."
" That's probably true. It's an automatic response with me.”
More quotes…