Category Archives: The Hermetic Library

The Hermetic Library

Archiving, Engaging and Encouraging the living Western Esoteric Tradition, Hermeticism & Aleister Crowley’s Thelema

Discoveries in Fantasy

Hermetic Library Fellow T Polyphilus reviews Discoveries in Fantasy, edited by Lin Carter.

Discoveries in Fantasy is an anthology volume of the Ballantine Adult Fantasy series. It brings together shorter works by four pre-Tolkien English fantasists selected and introduced by Lin Carter, mostly with the avowed intention of later publishing a full book of the work of each. All four of the writers were obscure in 1972 when this book was published, and they have remained so. Much as I like it, there was probably little help supplied by the cover art by Peter La Vasseur, which shows a roc flying through an Orientalist fantasy landscape with a naked woman in its talons. (This picture actually illustrates one of the stories in the book, “The Bird with the Golden Beak” by Donald Corley.)

The first two stories are sinophile yarns by Ernest Bramah. Carter is wrong that Bramah’s Chinese lore is entirely invented. Fo-hi, for example, was genuinely the legendary Chinese emperor responsible for formulating the trigrams. And on page 44 Bramah cleverly quotes the Tao Te Ching out of context. But any and all of this lore might well have come out of the OUP Sacred Books of the East, and probably did, so that Carter discounting the rumor of Bramah’s travels to China is still reasonable. “The Vision of Yin” is actually rather replete with such references, while “The Dragon of Chang Tao” starts out sort of strangely European in its regard for dragons, but eventually reaches a more sophisticated and “Chinese” relationship to them.

The third and fourth stories are drawn from the book The Twilight of the Gods by Richard Garnett. I had never heard of this book, which evidently contains most if not all of its author’s fantasy output. The title is misleading, since it is not concerned with a northern Götterdämmerung, but rather with the eclipse of pagan antiquity by Christianity. These were terrific, and Garnett’s book went onto my wishlist straight away. He is quite careful about his historical contexts, interpolating supernatural events to explain enigmas of the ancient world, such as Nonnus of Panopolis authoring both a thirty-book Dionysian saga and a paraphrase of the Gospel of John.

The two stories by Donald Corley are lapidary tales with a greater amount of pathos than the frequently arch fantasies from the other contributors. Carter relates that Corley was championed by Cabell, but I found Corley’s tone to be the least Cabellian of all the writers here. I did enjoy these and I would read more of Corley’s work if I came across it.

The last and longest story in the book is “The Miniature” by Eden Phillpotts–an author neglected by American audiences, but remembered in England, according to Carter. This one did not satisfy me. It was a resume of human history from the perspective of the Olympian deities. Some of the later points were already counter to the historical narrative in 1972, and the conclusion definitely did not hold up well as a prognosis for human society to this twenty-first century reader. The colloquies among the gods were rather flat, and I would far prefer to return to Giordano Bruno’s Expulsion of the Triumphant Beast for this sort of “council of the gods” story than seek out any of the others reportedly written by Phillpotts along similar lines. [via]

Summary for the week ending Apr 23, 2017

Here’s a summary of activity for the week ending April 23th, 2017.

Lots of ongoing work on the site, preparing Postal Exchange boxes for Patrons (the next batch should be heading out tomorrow), responding to 2017 Hermetic Library Surveys (which will close for new answers at the end of the month), and more this week.

This week was also a big milestone. Seshat and the Clitoris by Nandani Felicia Bharrat, the very first guest post was posted to the blog. And, it was a super popular post on the blog already, so if you’ve not checked that out, go take a gander.

Also, I added a comment to the post via the BBS and so you can see an example of how the BBS integrates with the blog for commenting. So, head on over to the BBS and join the conversation on this or other posts to the blog.

This post made it through the new pitch and submission process which starts by heading over to submit your pitch. So, you know, get on over there and submit your pitches! Did I mention that you should submit a pitch?!

Special thanks to Funding and Patron supporters for their support and help making this submission process and guest post happen. Not only do supporters help provide funds so that I can pay authors for these new posts, but Patrons with access to the private Patron Lounge on the BBS are able to take part in the submissions process.

In addition to the submission process, there’s a lot of other ways to participate, not the least of which is the new submission process. Consider also participating on the BBS forums or send in something for the Zine! And, if there’s something else you’ve got in mind, just get in touch so we can discuss your idea.

Here’s a summary of posts on the blog from last week

Some top pages at the library

Some top posts on social media

Some top posts on the BBS

Want to write for Hermetic Library? Submit your Pitch! Be sure to check out the actual Hermetic Library, and all the ways you can participate at the library and support the work.

“The puritan is always trying to make it impossible for those things which frighten him to exist. He does not understand that sensibility is not to be cured by protecting it from the obvious stimuli. The diseased tissue will merely begin to react to all sorts of contacts which have a merely symbolic relation with the original perils. This psychological fact is at the basis of such phenomena as fetishism. The saint hurries to the Thebaid to avoid the danger of Thais, only to find that the very stones rise up and take her place.”
Chapter 68 from Confessions

Quote featured at PROGRESS ANARCHY COMMON SENSE from the Ministry of Information.