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Capturing the spirit of arcane writing, Evan S. Connell delivers spectacular and esoteric prose as he imagines the journals of seven alchemists. The first is Paracelsus, the famous sixteenth-century alchemist, who is followed by an array of distinct voices: physicians, historians, alchemists, and philosophers. Each employs a unique personality and point of view in a world of pre-scientific thought, of the western world about to step into modernity.Though this historical recreation is medieval in style, Connell succeeds in infusing his diarists with alchemic wisdom, ancient appeal, and felt humanness. A work of rigid art and astute mimicry, Connell's work is intelligent and remarkable, medieval yet applicable to modernity. Alchymic Journals is, at its core, a study of humanity from the mind of one of America's greatest writers.
Acclaimed author Evan S. Connell sends us through the complete experience of a man initially intrigued and then enslaved by art: a curious interest, a rapt fixation, and the becoming of a connoisseur. The Connoisseur trails the evolution of Muhlbach, an insurance executive on a business trip in Taos, New Mexico, who develops an obsession with pre-Columbian figurines after meandering through a curio shop. Entranced yet bewildered by his sudden affinity for a little figurine, Muhlbach succumbs to his intrigue and, thirty dollars later, begins his journey as a connoisseur.With superb delivery and subtle clarity, Connell allows us to see and feel Muhlbach's emerging mania, with its impending tension and sudden exhilaration. He illustrates how a new fixation alters our lens on life and shapes our actions.
God wills it! The year is 1095 and the most prominent leaders of the Christian World are assembled in a meadow in France. Deus lo volt! This cry is taken up, echoes forth, is carried on. The Crusades have started, and wave after wave of Christian pilgrims rush to assault the growing power of Muslims in the Holy Land. Two centuries long, it will become the defining war of the Western world.
Karl Muhlbach, hero of Evan Connell's previous novel, The Connoisseur, has a new obsession-a beautiful, nubile girl-about-New York named Lambeth Brent, whose puzzling background and swinging activities lead Muhlbach into dark areas, causing new revelations of himself as a man to emerge.The mysterious bonds between opposites come into sharp relief as we follow the course of Muhlbach and Lambeth's relationship. An uncomfortable visit to the ballet, an abortive country vacation, brief but sparkling happy moments, and Muhlbach's final, shocking discovery add up to a mosaic of vignettes, rendering the characters startlingly real.Double Honeymoon explores the built-in dangers of a love affair between a cautious, conservative, middle-aged widower and a neurotic, high-strung, self-destructive girl. But far from just another May-September romance, the book is a keen examination of the dilemma posed by two people who are attracted to each other, yet unable to come together because of the profound differences in their backgrounds and outlooks. With a sure hand, Evan Connell demonstrates just how profound those differences can be.
Walter Bridge is an ambitious lawyer who redoubles his efforts and time at the office whenever he sense that his family needs something, even when what they need is more of him and less of his money. Affluence, material assets, and comforts create a cocoon of community respectability that cloaks the void within-not the skeleton in the closet but a black hole swallowing the whole household.The Bridge novels have been recognized as classics during their author's lifetime. With their shared ability to capture the manners and mores of the American upper middle class, Connell has done for the late thirties what Sinclair Lewis did for the twenties.
Connell's other novels include Mrs. Bridge, The Diary of a Rapist, and The Connoisseur. Mr. Bridge was made into a movie.
Like "Mr. Bridge," its counterpart, "Mrs. Bridge" is comprised of over 100 titled chapters, containing vignettes, an image, a fragment of conversation, an event--all building powerfully toward the completed group portrait of a family.
In Mrs. Bridge, Evan S. Connell, a consummate storyteller, artfully crafts a portrait using the finest of details in everyday events and confrontations. With a surgeon's skill, Connell cuts away the middle-class security blanket of uniformity to expose the arrested development underneath-the entropy of time and relationships lead Mrs. Bridge's three children and husband to recede into a remote silence, and she herself drifts further into doubt and confusion. The raised evening newspaper becomes almost a fire screen to deflect any possible spark of conversation. The novel is comprised of vignettes, images, fragments of conversations, events-all building powerfully toward the completed group portrait of a family, closely knit on the surface but deeply divided by loneliness, boredom, misunderstandings, isolation, sexual longing, and terminal isolation. In this special fiftieth anniversary edition, we are reminded once again why Mrs. Bridge has been hailed by readers and critics alike as one of the greatest novels in American literature.
Praise for Notes from a Bottle Found on the Beach at Carmel"A unique tour de force" -The New York Times Book Review"One of the most remarkable books that I have read in a long time." -Kenneth Rexroth"Mr. Connell's NOTES are what one intelligent, sensitive artist has been able to salvage from all experience as testimony to the rather pathetic integrity of the human species in the face of extinction. The book is no manual or tract, however, although its political meaning is unmistakable, but a work of art, even a work of high art." -Hayden Carruth
Another brilliant example of Evan Connell's art, The Patriot deals with an American boy who grew to maturity with World War II. He had learned his father's patriotism, and then, through the impact of firsthand experience, formulated his own.Melvin Isaacs, aged seventeen, became a Navy Air Force cadet in 1942. His course of training as a flyer was an education in fear and death, even though it had its wonderfully comic times and a sense of comradeship that was new to him. Perhaps it was in the air-for Melvin loved to fly-that the first feelings of aloneness stirred his mind. Melvin, who queried the whys and wherefores of his regimented training life, became, despite all efforts to conform, a maverick. This portion of the novel is a touching and true mixture of human comedy and tragedy, and it also embodies scenes of flight and danger that are unmatched for pure vividness and sensate realism.The story of Melvin after the war is a continuation of the absurdities that can pursue a man so constituted that he must think for himself. And here the implications of the novel become clear. It is partly the age-old story of a father and son in conflict, of an older generation's notions that are insupportable to the younger, a human dilemma that has no possible resolution. It is also the story of Melvin's final rejection of war, of his unshakeable conviction that a man today must think and act for the good of the planet, Stephen Decatur's slogan notwithstanding. With too many excellences to catalogue and extol, the novel has a total effect of a new voice telling a new story of this old familiar world.
Part anthropological study of Plains Indian life, part military history, and part character study of the principal actors in the Battle of the Little Bighorn, Evan Connell's work presents the first truly balanced account of Custer's career. [This text is listed as an example that meets Common Core Standards in English language arts in grades 9-10 at http://www.corestandards.org.]
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