Tag Archives: historical

Seeing a Large Cat

Hermetic Library Fellow T Polyphilus reviews Seeing a Large Cat [Amazon, Bookshop, Publisher, Local Library] by Elizabeth Peters, book 9 of the Amelia Peabody series.

Peters Seeing a Large Cat

This ninth Amelia Peabody mystery is the first that I have shared from cover to cover with my Other Reader. We both enjoyed it quite well. It continues the formula established by Peters in the earlier books, this time covering (to my irrelevant excitement) the 1903-1904 excavation season in Egypt. 

The “large cat” of the title is perhaps Ramses Emerson, who sports whiskers as a surprise at the outset of the novel, and whose relations with the feline members of the household constitute an ongoing subplot. This volume of the series is one in which the younger generation of Emersons gain a significant degree of independence. Their separate perspective is supplied through the device of excerpts from a “Manuscript H,” supposedly written by Ramses and containing events he would best know, although referring to him in the third person.

On the other hand, the Cat could equally be Katherine Jones, a new character who seems likely to recur in future stories, and whose cat-like qualities are emphasized in descriptions. The gerundial phrasing of the title alludes to the ancient Egyptian dream-interpretation papyrus that is Peabody’s translation project for the season. What indeed is the significance of “seeing a large cat” in one’s dream? This book combines entertaining adventure with ominous portents for its protagonists.

(An Open Entrance To The Shut Palace Of) Wrong Numbers

Hermetic Library fellow T Polyphilus reviews (An Open Entrance To The Shut Palace Of) Wrong Numbers by Franklin Rosemont:

Franklin Rosemont's Wrong Numbers


Chicago surrealist Rosemont is not particularly coy about the fact that his book Wrong Numbers is an alchemical operation. The work transpires on several planes. On the most obvious, it is an effort to transform the base matter of accidental telephony into the gold of poetry. The book also contains a level of anecdotal autobiography comparable in some respects to Br. DuQuette’s My Life with the Spirits.

Yes, the book is actually about the “wrong numbers” of telephone misdialing. In addition to accounts of his personal experiences, the author sidles up to his topic from various angles: historical, cultural, psychological, and even magical. He champions the derided experience of the Wrong Number, not to rehabilitate it as an object, but rather to assail and transform the “miserablist” perspective of its detractors.

The text is complemented by a set of splendid drawings by Portuguese artist Artur do Cruzeiro Seixas, a surrealist comrade of Rosemont’s. The drawings too demonstrate an alchemical sensibility, in which beings and substances appear transformed, sublimated, and precipitated.

The heterogeneous details of the book, which manage to include multiple references to such disparate topics as Paschal Beverly Randolph, Bugs Bunny, and the IWW, should not obscure the fact that it does indeed express a single, magically puissant will to achieve “Freedom and the Marvelous, Now and Forever!”

Insightful, sincere, funny, and artful, this book would inherently resist being called “important,” yet it addresses the most fundamental dilemmas of our society. Read and enjoy. [via]



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