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Literature / Aegypt Cycle

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The Aegypt Cycle is a tetralogy of novels by John Crowley. The core story is set in a small New York town during the 1970's and '80s, but the narrative jumps back and forth to earlier events in the characters' lives, to Renaissance England, Italy, and Austria-Hungary, and beyond space and time to angelical spheres and mystical dimensions. It consists of the following books:

  • The Solitudes (1987): Originally published as Aegypt.
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  • Love and Sleep (1994)
  • Daemonomania (2000)
  • Endless Things (2007)

The four novels' closest thing to a protagonist is the historian Pierce Moffett, who settles down in a small New York hamlet and becomes obsessed with an overarching idea: there is more than one history of the world. Pierce also becomes involved with Rosie Rasmussen, a divorcée whose personal history has unexpected connections to Pierce's life, and to his hypothesis. The main narrative intercuts with earlier events in Pierce's and Rosie's lives, and with partly fictionalized biographies of the English magician John Dee, the Italian philosopher Giordano Bruno, and the Hapsburg Emperor Rudolf II.


The Aegypt Cycle contains examples of:

  • Arc Words: "There is more than one history of the world."
  • Author Avatar: Pierce's language, interests, and priorities are hard to separate from Crowley's narrative voice.
  • Insufferable Genius: Giordano Bruno finds creative ways of insulting and condescending to nearly every peer and would-be patron he encounters.
  • The Muse: Pierce is reviewing a translation of the Spanish poet Luis de Góngora, whose Soledades echo many of the novels' themes.
  • Only the Knowledgable May Pass: Like gnosticism, the novel's hermetic themes rely on esoteric knowledge as a key to the universe.
  • Reality Bleed: The human race's capacity for mythologizing—and for creating fantastic sources of myth like the "Aegypt" of the title—can slowly turn those myths into a kind of reality.
  • Rule of Symbolism: The characters—especially Pierce and Bruno—are often only as adult and reasonable as their symbolic roles allow them them to be.

Alternative Title(s): Aegypt


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