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Porius Hardcover – International Edition, August 16, 2007


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 624 pages
  • Publisher: Overlook Books (August 16, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1585673668
  • ISBN-13: 978-1585673667
  • Product Dimensions: 6.3 x 1.8 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #989,944 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From The New Yorker

This immense, robustly imagined novel was whittled down by more than five hundred pages when it was first published, in 1951. Powys’s original conception is here restored, a dense, complex merging of modern psychology and ancient mythology. In Wales in the year 499, the ruling Celts learn that the Saxons and the forest people are advancing against them; Porius, the son of the Celt prince, awaits the coming battle while ruminating on the eternal conflicts between male and female, nature and humankind, pagan and Christian. No mere philosopher, he also wields a corpse as a weapon and sleeps with a giantess. The line between reality and reverie is not always clearly demarcated, and the epic number of characters is often bewildering, but the astutely envisaged world and the operatic romantic couplings quickly draw in the reader.
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Review

"Porius is a complex epic in which passages of galloping action contend with long metaphysical digressions; the novel is electrifying... The pages of Porius are geysers of words, sometimes poetic and profound... Porius is a great, exhilarating work." -- Wall Street Journal

"A gigantic novel (which includes giants in its cast) set in Wales in 499 ad... One can only hope that this mythic masterpiece will now find the readers that it deserves, for it is, as critics have argued, fit to be compared both for ambition and achievement with Ulysses, while the biography, Descents of Memory, deserves to stand with Richard Ellmann's James Joyce as a major work about a major artist." -- Margaret Drabble, The Times Literary Supplement

"If [a] casual reader loves to inhabit a fully realized landscape and to be drawn deep into the mind and heart of a unique and fascinating character, Porius might just be worth the many hours said reader must invest... I would suggest that in this massive tome, Powys may have more of significance to offer us than Tolkien or Lewis or White." -- Globe & Mail (Toronto)

"Readers of J.R.R. Tolkien, Mervyn Peake and J.K. Rowling might find something to their taste in Porius... Epic and elemental." -- Philadelphia Inquirer

"[An] immense, robustly imagined novel... A dense, complex merging of modern psychology and ancient mythology. ... The astutely envisaged world and the operatic romantic couplings quickly draw in the reader." -- The New Yorker

Customer Reviews

4.1 out of 5 stars
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See all 9 customer reviews
I find it hard for anyone to say anything bad about this amazing book.
William Thon
Note that like Joyce's "Ulysses" that there is a sub-story here, which is the 7 days of the book correspond to the 7 steps of alchemical transformation.
quarmix
I've opened it hundreds of times just to read and delight in the setting, the emotions it conjures, every delicate observation of human frailty and love.
Mike Hoover

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

20 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Daniel Myers VINE VOICE on July 26, 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book is a truly humbling one to review. It is also difficult to convey to the prospective reader exactly what it is that makes the work so monumental and important or why the editors of The Atlantic chose this book - written 50 years ago and only now published as Powys intended - as THE ONLY book of fiction worth the serious reader's time to emerge for the whole of last year. I shall endeavour, however, to do my best:
The two striking qualities that will immediately begin to strike the engaged reader about the characters and setting (Wales, 499 A.D.) of the novel are a SLOWNESS and what I can only call a MUFFLEDNESS about it all. These qualities arise, not only because it is set in a pre-agrarian tribal society, but because Powys is interested primarily in the various impressions flickering through the souls of the characters and how they, gradually, come to assume, not to lose, the name of action. The manner in which Porius ruminates upon his decision to find and, if needs be, fight the Cewri might just as well that of the reader as he/she plunges into these pages:

"This was decided. This was settled. And yet there hung about the whole project something dreamlike and unsubstantial, not so much unreal, as subreal, like a decision under water, or in the soft persistent falling of snow upon snow."

We have, in today's post-industrial, "tweeting" age lost the consciousness of the connexions with faint odours, shifts of light, lingering memories that affect our moods, our states of conscience. Powys' book slowly restores our awareness of these senses in us, as well as "the wisdom of every creature in reconciling itself as well as it could to that mysterious mingling of Nature's purposes with accident and chance, which is the only world we know.
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26 of 29 people found the following review helpful By Vidar Ringstrøm on January 4, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Margaret Drabble wrote an essay about the author in TLS ( November 14, 2007). I may have seen his name before, but never seriously considered reading John Cowper Powys. Drabbles essay was about a new biography by Morine Krissdóttir "Descents of memory", and a new edition of Powys' "Porius". I promply ordered both. I like excentric englishmen, and Powys seems to fit the bill, having a society, or more precisely, his family has a society: The Powys Society, and a sense of exclusiveness about his authorship that I like (being a snob in such matters).

I'm now halfway into Porius and hooked. This is really an amazing novel! It's set in Wales in the week from 18 to 25 october 499. The setting is Arthurian, but not your standard Arthur-fantasy. Not that the setting matters much (it probably does btw), its a fairly complex novel with several figures and many questions covered. It contains a mix of modern and ancient thought, so reading is like dipping in and out of the unknown. There is pagan, ancient greek and even christian elements here, but mostly what easiest can be described as nature mysticism (or paganism if you prefer that term). (There's even mentions of Mithras, which led me to order Manfred Clauss' "The Roman Cult of Mithras: The God and His Mysteries"). But there's more, much more!

It's a help to have a guide to all the names and (a few) concepts, so put "John Cowper Powys's Porius: A Reader's Companion" into Google.

A Glastonbury romance is on the way (from the same publisher), to ensure that something is at hand when I'm through with Porius.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By quarmix on February 14, 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Reading Porius is like touching God. It's an incredible book, one of the great masterpieces of literature, and yet, it is so unusual, so painfully difficult to read, and yet - in its moments, captures something so inexplicably deep and rich in our experience of life. For those troubled by the obscure references, it is helpful to have a copy of W.J. Keith's guide (just Google "W.J. Keith Porius" to find it) by one's side, and it can be a painfully slow slog, but there are moments here, too many to relate, the chapter on Myridden Welt (Merlin), probably the best bit of magical realism ever written, and the incredible scene with the Druids in their underground home. Powys unique way of capturing nature, and of capturing the innermost thoughts of his characters in a way which is even stronger than even Dostoyevsky. The part that troubles the "educated" (as opposed to the "cultured"), the psycho-sexual element, and some of the overpowering nature moments, is very intrinsic to the writer and his world view and frankly, is very close to the Truth as uncomfortable as it might make you. There is nothing simple or easy about Powys world, but it is highly memorable, you will remember scenes from this book for the rest of your life. Note that like Joyce's "Ulysses" that there is a sub-story here, which is the 7 days of the book correspond to the 7 steps of alchemical transformation. This book will transform you, it will expand your consciousness, it will outrage you, it will disturb you, but in the end, like the very, very few books of truly great literature, in the end you have felt that you touched something so fundamental to existence, you won't know what to call it - Powys might call it the First Cause; I felt like after I read it, that I had touched God.
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