THE GOLDEN AGE by Constantine FitzGibbon

THE GOLDEN AGE

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KIRKUS REVIEW

A futuristic/myth-framed crazy quilt concerning--if one selects the widest possible interpretation--the fate of a poet's vision in our radioactive age. The narrator, Seuphor (Orpheus), seems to materialize at Oxford University after the Great War, which left odds and ends of people, speech and cultures. He moves uneasily through curious transformations of mind and matter and playfully sinister Lewis Carroll dialogue: ""As we always say, first the food, then the morality."" Dean Sedah (i.e., Hades) explains how the globe has been divided into two hemispheres separated by ""The Obstacle,"" a permanent belt of wind. The Underworld where dwells Eurydice (the poet's Australian former love) is more or less a mystery. Orpheus sells his soul to an accommodating Mephistopheles, takes charge of the world to build a social utopia and heads for the Underworld. Along the way various elementals, mythic beings and beasts come and go--the Four Horsemen (who have nothing to do after accomplishing chaos), the Sybil (who usually appears as a ""lady novelist""), the Thracian females, four students begging for songs, a snake, a poodle familiar and a vampire. Orpheus at the last regains his soul while the planet heads for oblivion. There are sections which hassle contemporary literature (and there is an amusing antiphonal chorus running alongside), Freud, science, etc. All of which somewhat lightens the glut of symbolism and labored paradox--just enough to keep that Orphean singing head afloat. Special.

Pub Date: Sept. 22nd, 1975
Publisher: Norton