By the author of "Sunday Whiteman", this novel of intellectual obsession and passion concerns two groups of people who are united in their investigation into the "great experiment of nature" in a Norfolk village, but divided by a century of time.
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In Lindsay Clarke's second novel, which won a Whitbread Prize in 1989, alchemy infuses the language and imagery of a tale that unfolds as two separate stories. In the first sequence, a poet named Alex Darken falls into an abusive, yet obsessive triangle with an alcoholic elderly poet and a beautiful, troubled psychic. Together they pursue the alchemical and personal secrets of the spirited Louisa Agnew, the central character of the second story. Louisa is a woman devoted to a self-centered father whose fascination with the hermetic arts forces her to confront her own dark side and her feelings for a tormented minister. As the characters struggle for wholeness of spirit, they each uncover their hidden potential for passion and violence.From the Inside Flap:
It is the early 1980s. Alex Darken, devastated by a broken marriage, has retreated to a remote village in the bleak flatlands of eastern England. On the Easterness Estate he meets the volatile, aging poet Edward Nesbit and his vibrant, psychic, young American lover, Laura. Slowly, he is drawn into a strange relationship with them as they piece together the lost studies of two of the present lord's ancestors.
In 1849, Sir Henry Agnew and his elegant, brilliant daughter Louisa, were about to penetrate the last secrets of the mystical art of alchemy. They, like the researches a century and a half later, see in the "chemical wedding" of opposites -- sulphur and quicksilver, spirit and matter, male and female, reality and imagination -- a key to spiritual rebirth. As Edward, Laura, and Alex mirror the Agnew story, dreams and symbols, erotic ecstasy and philosophical argument, climax in a vision which, like those before them, they can grasp only as they skirt insanity and tragedy . . . .
"Engrossing . . . By the time we start wanting to resist, it is too late. The book already has drawn us too deeply into its six intriguing main characters and its rich gothic folds of plot." -- Chicago Tribune
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Book Description Jonathan Cape Ltd, London, 1989. Hardcover. Book Condition: New. Dust Jacket Condition: New. 1st Edition. First Edition, no writing, marks, underlining, or bookplates. No remainder marks. Spine is tight and crisp. Boards are flat and true and the corners are square. Dust jacket is not price-clipped. This collectible, " NEW" condition first edition/first printing copy is protected with a polyester archival dust jacket cover. Beautiful collectible copy. GIFT QUALITY. Bookseller Inventory # 003313