Bobby's Reviews > Endless Things

Endless Things by John Crowley
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's review
Aug 28, 2007

really liked it
Read in August, 2007

I understand the grievance many people had with this book - in the previous three novels Crowley seems to promise a return to an age of wonder, or something like that - but instead it all just sort of dissolves into a disappointingly quotidian reality. Upon stumbling across these paragraphs from Aegypt,though - I realize there is really no other way he could have concluded it:

Did he really intend to suggest in his book that once-upon-a-time the useless procedures of magic had had effects, the lead had turned to gold, the dead had risen; but that then the world ("the world") had passed through some sort of cosmic turnstile and come out the other side different, so that now not only are the old magics inefficacious but now they always were? Was he going to say that?

He guessed he was. Certainly he was going to hint at it, utter it, assemble ambiguous evidence for the proof of it, hold his readers in suspense with a search through history for the proof of it, the one thing–event, artifact, place, word–that is still, indisputably, what it once was in the past age, as nothing else any longer is. Whatever it might be.

He was going to entertain the notion; oh more, he was going to fête it, he was going to wine and dine it; he was going to have his way with it amid the spilled cups and crushed fruit of an uproarious banquet. And he was going to father on it a notion more powerful than itself, a notion which would only be given birth to in his concluding pages: only if we treat the past in this way, as though it was different in kind from the present, can we form any idea of how different from the present the future will be.

Another nice, significant detail I missed in Endless Things - after re-reading the first chapter - is that it's obvious that it's the character of Pierce Moffett that is telling the story. Of course the parallel between his work in the story and the structure of the book itself are made quite plain by Crowley, but I had somehow missed all the first person references that are here.

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