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Etidorhpa Paperback – June 8, 2012
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Top Customer Reviews
And yet, as a spiritual allegory, the story has a certain resonance. There is both a baptism and a plunge into the Abyss. The journey of The-Man-Who-Did-It closely matches John St. John's description of the two Dark Nights of the Soul. There is an aesthetic satisfaction at the end of the book where the plot is wrapped up in an emotionally and intellectually convincing manner. One is left with the impression that the author knows at every step the impression that he is leaving on the reader and that he has gone through the trouble to create a very internally consistent mythology. All good writers of fiction do this. And yet this author skillfully uses layers of reporting (the inner earth guide, The-Man-Who-Did-It, and John Uri Lloyd) to entice the reader to buy into the objectivity of the reporting. This structure makes it almost impossible to enter an alternate reality. One's attention is constantly drawn to the fact that this is not an alternate reality, but a reality that is one and the same as that inhabited by the reader.
I feel that I will be thinking through this book for some time, though I'm skeptical of the dividends this effort will pay. If you watched Lost and were left with the desire to unravel its allegorical relevance to something or other. . . but after a while gave up and admitted that the whole thing was just a giant misdirect for apparently commercial purposes, you get a sense of what may be futility of coming to understand this book. I must say, however, that I don't think I will be able to give up on Etidorhpa any time soon. The author simply predicted my intellectual and emotional reactions throughout the book so well that I am at a loss to either find a meaning or write it off as a haphazard effort in spiritual allegory.
I'd love to get other's reactions and insights to this books.
Though this book has been read by many as a straight fantasy, the purpose is, as the author stated many times, a serious one:
Lloyd wrote in a letter about the book dated 1895: "Some of us come into the world to teach, we cannot evade our destiny. Whether we teach from our own selves or from others, is of no moment, the important point is whether we teach properly. Will the result of our instruction tend to elevate the thought of others and thus lead to truth and self humility, to love and charity? Etidorhpa is not an idle creation. The mission of this book is unseen by most of its readers. The thought current will be felt though by every reader and it pains me to appreciate the fact that to some the beauties of the work will serve but to deepen their hatred of conceptions holy and sublime."
I have seen the MS of the book in the Lloyd Library, which he founded and endowed, and it is better than the book itself. Lloyd, who edited the MS, with the help of a few friends, and published it privately, kept adding and moving things about, till it is rather confusing to read; but this should not deter anyone who wants to learn from it. The book itself is better than the sum of its parts. It stands as a solid creation in the mind long after one has forgotten that the style is not quite good, that the execution is less than brilliant, that the plot seems often lost, and that the two interleaved MSS were not always well meshed.
Original first editions (and even copies of the twelve editions it went through in the half-dozen years after its first publication) are exceedingly rare. I have yet to see a copy Lloyd didn't sign. Anyone interested in the early history of the genre now called "science fiction" will recognize that this is the classic that pioneered the field. If you want to know more about Lloyd the man, and his works, go to google.com and type: John Uri Lloyd "The World is My University". You may find yourself wanting to know more about the studious little man who could write a book with the title "Aphrodite" in reverse.