“Imagine if they’d had you in Alexandria.” “Would it have added to the sum of human happiness if the library had survived?” “Apparently most of it did, despite the myth.” “Humans never use the information they’ve got. They seem to value it less the more they have.” “But there’s a romance in what we don’t know or never can.”
Romancing the Goddess: Three Middle English Romances about Women by Marijane Osborn, a 1998 paperback from University of Illinois Press, is part of the collection at the Reading Room.
“Take three exciting medieval romances, translate them—two for the first time—into modern English verse, and you’ll have only part of Marijane Osborn’s Romancing the Goddess.
Osborn introduces and translates the three tales, all dealing with women cast adrift upon the northern and Mediterranean seas, then shows how the stories forge a hitherto missing link with worship of a savior goddess in the distant past.
Arguing that the idea of the woman cast adrift can be traced to an ancient Mediterranean legend connecting aspects of the Virgin Mary and Isis as ‘sea goddesses’—protectors of those at sea—Osborn then explores the image and idea of ‘the Goddess.’ The romances and the author’s discussion of that ever-popular female figure will interest feminists, women readers generally, medievalists, historians of religion, and the many others interested in the mysterious figure we call ‘the Goddess.'” — back cover
Palahniuk is the author of Fight Club, and Survivor is his second novel. The wit, sagacity, and implacable unlikelihoods of Fight Club are all still in full force in Survivor, which counts down from page 289 to 1 with blinding speed. And like Fight Club, the later book seems quite dedicated, in its nihilistic po-mo way, to the premise that “Unto thee shall be granted joy and health and wealth and wisdom when thou art no longer thou.”
I have read critics refer to Heinlein’s Stranger in a Strange Land as a “satire.” It’s not; it’s a romance. Survivor is in fact the satire that Stranger isn’t. Stranger’s Michael Valentine Smith was the survivor of a shipwreck on Mars, “rescued” to face his ultimate martyrdom as the prophet of the Church of All Worlds. Survivor’s Tender Branson was “rescued” from a suicide cult based in Nebraska. And it is his voice that tells the entire story, through the medium of a crashing airplane’s flight recorder.
This book is an unimpeded flight—a terminal descent—to the punchline of the Universal Joke. [via]
The Hermetic Library Reading Room is an imaginary and speculative future reification of the library in the physical world, a place to experience a cabinet of curiosities offering a confabulation of curation, context and community that engages, archives and encourages a living Western Esoteric Tradition. If you would like to contribute to the Hermetic Library Reading Room, consider supporting the library or contact the librarian.