✅ [PDF / Epub] ☉ Figures of Earth By James Branch Cabell ⚣ – Dolove.info
James Branch Cabell has a clean and clear style that entertains and enlivens. Published in 1921 Delightfully cynical and cynically delightful, and wickedly ironic It s about the great heroic figure Manuel the Redeemer of the mythical land of Poictesme, and the very unheroic truth about him Very funny. Amazing E Book, Figures Of Earth By James Branch Cabell This Is Very Good And Becomes The Main Topic To Read, The Readers Are Very Takjup And Always Take Inspiration From The Contents Of The Book Figures Of Earth , Essay By James Branch Cabell Is Now On Our Website And You Can Download It By Register What Are You Waiting For Please Read And Make A Refission For You There are people on this site sane and sensible people who know how to juggle with words and such who have written screeds about James Branch Cabell They have written actual, proper, honest to god, impassioned and informative reviews and this is not one, this is just showing off so I feel a touch of guilt over what I m about to say It is this Don t read their efforts read the book Don t read my drivel read the book You know that pile on your shelf The one that makes you feel guilty each time you look at it The one that, hydra like, spawns three extra titles every time you clear one, and that you will no really, you will get to in due course Forget it Shove them in the spare room, close the door and read this one instead If you have to evict the ironing board, the Christmas decorations or your own grandmother to make the space, then do so It s that good Now, if you insist on reading any of this don t read my drivel, I don t know what I m doing read the book , you are going to have to put up with me flailing about, failing to explain just what it is about the style, structure and content of this neglected glory that so appeals You are going to have to put up with my addiction to the tricolon, my erratic punctuation and my tendency to become horribly overexcited by a wonderful piece of writing You are going to have to put up with my inserting two clauses merely to make up the set, because that s what the rhythm requires and that s because, unlike me, unlike most people who actually write for a living, unlike the overwhelming majority of the human race, James Branch Cabell knew exactly what he was doing with language Don t be insulted it s a rare gift Oh, you can if you are diligent and have a good memory teach yourself the figures of rhetoric You can read something like Mark Forsythe s excellent Elements of Eloquence, commit to memory a list of multi vowelled Greek terms, and become one who can tell his epistrophe from his elbow You can swallow a dictionary, bone up on the classics, have a loved one whisper Shakespeare to you in your dreams All of that will help you to appreciate fine language when you see it, and to recognise the tricks that make it so possibly it will even make you a better writer but it won t necessarily mean you know what you are doing Few people do Because it s a rare gift G.K.Chesterton had it Mervyn Peake had it James Branch Cabell had it in spades Now, Chesterton was a romantic who knew the absurdity of romanticism, and Cabell a cynic in romantic plumes Peake was an artist whose gorgeous sentences make the unreal real, and Cabell was devoted to making the unreal as unreal as possible Chesterton s works are stylish, Peake s works are stylish, but Cabell s writing is the apotheosis of style well, in this book, at least It s highly structured and artificial writing, and if you think that s a bad thing you haven t thought it through A digression, because Dumbarton Grange and Dumbarton Oaks are not so very far apart a mere hundred odd miles as the crow flies There is, in music, a thing called neo classicism Put dryly it is a style reacting against the excesses of Romanticism, characterized by lightness of orchestration, coolness of approach, and a return to earlier forms Put prettily it is music in stockings and a powdered wig, smoking an insouciant cigar and sticking its tongue out at passers by And that s where Cabell comes in Cabell is the closest I think I ve come to finding that in text There is something of the eighteenth century about him the century that loved style, wit and detached irony the century that loved a good talker and if you have trouble with Sterne as well you might try reading him aloud and valued order, elegance and symmetry the frilly, frothy, frivolous enlightenment And there is something unmistakably twentieth century about him as well, in that he is reacting against those Victorian hangovers, the dreadful dreary demons realism, prudism, and heavy romantic text And I say again his text is highly structured, deeply artificial, and utterly delicious a wonderful confection a syllabub of words Jurgen is a fine thing, and delicious, of course Figures of Earth is also delicious, but there is poison in the sugar, there is poison in the wine, there are truths enough to make a grown man weep That s what makes Figures of Earth, just fractionally, the better book Now, symbols are like chainsaws you juggle with them at your peril, and I m apt to cut myself quite badly at this point, but I think Figures of Earth is not just a book of fine illusions that deals with disillusionment though it is that or Jurgen s dark twin and necessary shadow though it is that too Nor even is it merely a book about the creative process and a settling of scores For what it s worth the score settling is the least effective aspect No, it seems to me what this is about, truly about, is Jurgen itself It s the mirror polished rage of a man whose public do not quite understand him, or perhaps understand him too well Oho, you think you understand me He seems to say You do not No one can reach another across a bridge of words You think this is escapism He seems to say There is no escape And that s enough drivel from me. Cabell points out in his forward one of them he kept writing new ones that Figures of Earth was not an attempt to rewrite Jurgen Which is not to say there are not many similarities As ever, there is plenty of wit and sharp observation of human nature Whether those observations are really all that deep could be argued Sometimes Cabell comes off as facile than insightful.But that is quite probably intentional He is also, by today s standards, somewhat sexist Not in any hateful manner, but in too much willingness to assign stereotypical roles and character traits.As for Manuel, the protagonist of Figures, he lacks both the cleverness and self doubts of Jurgen and is either a very wise person or a very unmitigated fool He is uncertain which himself.As ever with Cabell, the book is full of inventive detail and a great number of sly references and symbols It is entirely possible to enjoy Figures of the Earth without recognizing nor understanding any of these Ultimately, it is a rather enjoyable and entertaining read.Is this book as good as Jurgen Not quite, but it is definitely one of Cabell s best efforts It would not be a bad entry point for his oeuvre, despite its peculiarly perfumed obscurity. A shimmering, pseudo fantastical fable on the price of success provisionally defined in the text as but the strivings of an ape reft of his tail, and grown rusty at climbing, who yet feels himself to be a symbol and the frail representative of Omnipotence in a place that is not home Manuel, the hero of the story, set in an imaginary medieval France, rises to the apex of this success with the aid of powerful women, each of whom he uses and then betrays in one way or another Eventually, he willingly serves the personification of the Misery of the world in order to win back his first partner, whom he allowed Grandfather Death to take away in preference to himself A month of days thus spent pass as years for Manuel, so that in due course his young love Niafer, returned sans ageing from the pagan paradise, is presented with a much older looking and thinking and acting Manuel Well, well, dear snip, said Manuel, the first thing of all, now it is certainly a comfort to have you back again Niafer, even in the rapture of her happiness, found this anunimpassioned greeting from one who had gone to unusual lengths to recover her companionship Staring, she saw that Manuel had all the marks of a man in middle life, and spoke as became appearances Then, after a moment s consideration of this tall gray stranger, Niafer also looked graver and older But, while Niafer is dismayed, one of Manuel s political allies is delighted by the change in Manuel s looks, and said that experience and maturity were fine things to be suggested by the appearance of a nobleman in Manuel s position Enough written If you can appreciate prose like this, then you are highly likely to find Figures of Earth to be an unfailing, lifelong delight and consolation in all its five parts Read it, and pass it on to those you feel might also be lucky enough to appreciate it Actually, this is a first edition, but I don t think I can add that to the database.This was a book I d forgotten I owned, an old, battered hard back which belonged to my father Kind of hard to rate, because I m not sure how much the reaction I had was too the book itself Like all of Cabell s works, it s both well written and depressing This one is about youthful dreams and the misery of aging Now I have to re read Jurgen, because I d somehow conflated them in memory A very similar theme, I believe. Very interesting and unique I never expected it to be so good. is the sequel to the celebrated Jurgen, and it took me a long time to work out what that meant Early on, I thought that that Cabell was simply trying to repeat himself and failing, frankly even falling into self parody, and lacking the brilliance of the earlier book.Then I hit the final third and everything almost made sense to me This isn t a copy of Jurgen, it s a mirror of Jurgen Everything the same, but everything is backward And yes, it probably is self parody, and it s probably intentional And if you came to this novel looking for of Jurgen well, here, have some cries the author, luring you toward the trifle placed accidentally beneath the guillotine There are three big technical differences from the earlier novel here Jurgen s personal quest was a quest for a pleasurable and fulfilling life, while Manuel s is a quest to do what is expected of him Jurgen s is fundamentally written from the point of view of a man at a particular point in his life, whereas Manuel s story spans a much greater length of time and Jurgen s story is seen through his own eyes, whereas Manuel s is constructed so that our protagonist is a cipher, whose inner thoughts are never exposed to the reader s view These differences are very important Jurgen is A Comedy of Justice This is A Comedy of Appearances, and that name isn t accidental It took me a long time to really appreciate that Oh, it appears obvious from the beginning why it s called that But well, that s the point, isn t it More important than these technical differences, however, is a difference in sentiment Because Jurgen tried to show you a good time, with a pleasantly bittersweet tang for an aftertaste Figures of Earth wants to rip out your eyes and spit in the sockets, and if possible persuade you to kill yourself into the bargain, and decorates that with some ironically pleasant sugary confections that come across by the end less as consolations than as mockery of the reader Feel like giving up after a few pages when you feel you re on the verge of choking to death on all the icing he s force feeding you Ha says the book, good riddance to you faced with unexpected fame after Jurgen, it s almost as though Cabell is passive aggressively giving his audience exactly what they want, in a way that makes it exactly what he knows they don t want.It s a ambitious book, I think, than Jurgen, and when it gets everything right it s spectacular It s frankly less enjoyable, however in part because of the difference in intent I half believe that most of the irritating flaws of the first half of the novel are put there on purpose , and in part simply because the higher degree of difficulties opens up room for failure The novel lacks the ebullient perfection of Jurgen but in exchange, it strikes into largely uncharted territory of brilliance Jurgen, there were analogies Wilde, Chesterton, Wodehouse, Pratchett, T.H White Figures of Earth is something indigestable and lingering and quite defiantly, even mockingly, its own thing I kind of wish it weren t I liked Jurgen I ve got a fuller review up over here It uses descriptions like In the end, we are left with a defence of anonymity, of emptiness, as its own form of heroism against in the bitter specificities of existence But perhaps I should be clearer here about some of its virtues it takes a superficially pleasing prose style and distorts it into such an extreme form that it becomes unrepentently, challengingly literary dear gods, the man throws in paragraphs of classical hexameter and dialogue that s actually a sonnet with the line breaks in the wrong places while still throwing up some achingly beautiful lines it s as piercingly inquisitory about big questions of The Meaning of Life as you could possibly ask for it is both completely of its time and utterly transcendent of time at the same time and actually, once things really get going, it s a good little story too You have to read the whole thing, to be fair, to really get what it s trying to do But it s worth it Or not, if you, for example, don t want an entire novel of unremitting negativity and despair You know, each to their own.I still think Jurgen is not just accessible and enjoyable, but also a genuinely better novel than this sequel In that, I agree with H.L Mencken and Louis Untermeyer, and almost the entire original audience But James Branch Cabell disagrees with that assessment, and he s a damn sight better writer than any of us are, so don t take our word for it Read Jurgen first But read Figures of Earth too Only maybe wait until your soul is feeling particularly resilient Figures of Earth is the story of Dom Manuel, the first count of Poictesme how he rises from his lowly position as swineherd to being the most fortunate man in the land, how he redeems his beloved Niafer from death, and how he became the inspiration for legend and myth down through the ages As such, he has several fantastic adventures, a few of which are breezily sketched in the book that is not, however, the focus of Cabell s satire, and even though this is nominally a book of fantasy and even published under the Ballantine Adult Fantasy imprint back in the late 60s , one should rather expect a gentle drubbing of the institution of marriage, and of how the relationships between men and women are perceived There are also a few other points which Cabell is interested in making mostly about religious belief but what I picked up on most was the men and women thing If I were to guess, I would have said that Cabell was hammering some nails into the coffin of Victorian idealism first published in 1921, I don t know if Figures of Earth was early or late to the wake, but it seemed to me Cabell was saying, Romantic love is a lot of rubbish, and happiness is ephemeral That he does so in a charming and pleasant way saves his story from being a downer though it is a bit melancholy near the end But life can be a bit melancholy, when looking back over life and discovering that you don t have as much fire in you as you once did, and that certain notions that you may have held very dear at one time are no longer with you But that pretty much seems to be how it s shaping up to me There are trade offs, of course, and they are not to be discounted, and Cabell doesn t But stillI have had Cabell s works queued up for years and years I read his Cream of the Jest quite some time ago, though I m not really sure how well I absorbed it and I m glad to have finally started, though I have to admit to being a tad disappointed with this first attempt My thought was to read the Poictesme stories in chronological order rather than in published order, which I will probably still continue, though I don t know if it matters all that much the point of these books is less the advancement of plot and the skewering of certain ways of thinking In order to do that, Cabell often eschews any action at all, or simply reports it offstage, until he can get back to the real point, which is that men and women have decidedly different outlooks on life, and that happiness, once attained, doesn t quite look the same as it did when you were still chasing it I think my disappointment stems from the idea that I had built the stories up to be a bit deep They are clever though, so there s that I suspect I might have enjoyed these stories if I had encountered them a little earlier in life A couple time while reading, I thought, You ain t telling me nothing new here, bub, and while it may not have been entirely new to me a decade or two earlier, it would have been fresher, and I think the cleverness would have been sharper But I liked the book, even if it sounds like I m damning it with faint praise I certainly enjoyed it enough to look forward to reading its sequel, The Silver Stallion, which I have in one of the various stacks of books around my desk that I mean to get to sooner rather than later.