THE SILENT TARN by Hannah Closs


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This historical novel is the last in a superior trilogy dealing with the Cathar (or Albigensian) heresy, and warfare between France and Toulouse in the early 13th century. It is a private book, full of semi-modern dialogues and personal inferences; yet it is compelling in its sense of being at home in a remote time, place, and mystic religion. Wolf of Foix, the bastard son of a great family and hero of the two earlier novels (High Are the Mountains, p. 103, 1959; Deep Are the Valleys, p. 826, 1960), is now a grown man. Married to a fanatic Cathar woman, he seeks a more universal religious peace alone, but is brought back into politics as governor of Aix, is tortured by the Inquisition, rescued, and reunited with his child-love, Esclarmonde. Dualism between the world and the spirit runs through the book. The last chapters are merely outlined (the author apparently died before completing them), but this trailing end is oddly suitable, for despite its involutions, and difficulties, the book has the conviction, the early real scenes, of something written on a fluctuating border between past and present, life and death. A strange, individual, often vivid evocation of life, mysticism and the medieval world.

Pub Date: May 17th, 1963
Publisher: Vanguard