A Glastonbury Romance- The Will. (John Cowper Powys)
Posted by lahar9jhadav on January 13, 2007
A Glastonbury Romance is a novel by John Cowper Powys, published in 1932. Usually considered Powys’ most famous work, the novel is part of his “Wessex Novels,” also including Wolf Solent, Maiden Castle, and Weymouth Sands. This very long chronicle details the lives of inhabitants of the Somerset village of Glastonbury over approximately a years’ time.
The Grail in the novel is seen not just in the Christian sense, but perhaps more so in the original Celtic sense; as a vessel in which the supernatural or divine is carried down to Earth. At the novel’s end, much of the city is flooded, in reference to the myth that held Glastonbury to the be the original Avalon. The novel closes with a drowning John Geard looking to Glastonbury Tor (itself referred to repeatedly as the domain of the mythic Welsh spirit Gwyn-ap-Nud) in hopes of seeing the Grail, followed by a short passage comparing the tower of the Tor and the Glastonbury Abbey to the persistence of the mythic and mystic in everyday life.
The novel also contains numerous examples of anthropomorphisation, reflecting Powys’ belief that even inanimate objects possessed sould. The Sun, for example, is described as an enemy to the Christian vicar Mat Dekker, while different trees are described as listening in to an early liaison between Mary and John Crow. Other passages refer to the spiritual extension of character’s will existing outside their bodies, particularly in the chapter “Nature Seems Dead” where a number of sleeping character’s ‘spirits’ move about the town. The novel also repeatedly refers to a Manichean dualism in the nature of the First Cause, the closest equialvent to a Judeo-Christian God in the novel, though this dualism is seen as tied in with all of existence and is seeen most strongly in the character of Owen Evans. These traits are found perhaps more strongly in A Glastonbury Romance than any of Powys’ other novels, though his works were usually imbued with the author’s own Celtic-based mystic beliefs described in detail in his personal letters and Autobiography. more
A Glastonbury Romance rose as a Mountain Majestic, above the low lying fields of literature of the twentieth century. It was resurrected and became a cult classic in the 1960’s with the rise of psychedelic consciousnesses through Music Love and Lsd (amongst other things).
AT THE STRIKING OF NOON ON A CERTAIN FIFTH OF MARCH, there occurred within a causal radius of Brandon railway-station and yet beyond the deepest pools of emptiness between the uttermost stellar systems one of those infinitesimal ripples in the creative silence of the First Cause which always occur when an exceptional stir of heightened consciousness agitates any living organism in this astronomical universe. Something passed at that moment, a wave, a motion, a vibration, too tenuous to be called magnetic, too subliminal to be called spiritual, between the soul of a particular human being who was emerging from a third-class carriage of the twelve-nineteen train from London and the divine-diabolic soul of the First Cause of all life.
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