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Jurgen Paperback – June 1, 1977
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Top Customer Reviews
What can I add to that? Jurgen is on my short list of very favorite books. It wrestles, in its odd way, with the fundamental tragedy of human life in general and male life in particular: We are doomed to age and die; meanwhile happiness will prove elusive. Wow, I'm making this sound awfully depressing, aren't I? But that's not right. Jurgen is humorous and fun and weirdly uplifting. Jurgen's strange adventures manage to represent all that a man may pursue and aspire to. The tale burns, but in a wonderfully brilliant way. (I made that comment about the tragedy of "male life" because Jurgen is, among other things, the quintessential rogue. His notion of how happiness might be ideally pursued differs somewhat from the ideas of the females he holds discourse with. Thus does Cabell illustrate a reality that we can either acknowledge or deny; take your choice. Enlightened people will prefer the latter.)
Jurgen isn't for everyone. Some will "get it" and some won't. I once handed a copy to a person who returned it with the comment that he wasn't a fan of the S&S ("swords & sorcery") genre. This surprised me; the book can only be described as S&S by someone who does not look below the surface. I mention this not to mock but to warn.Read more ›
Next I re-read it in my 50s. I never read books twice. Still amazed by it.
The book was buried in a box, after house moving many times. I re-discovered it last night. Now in my 80s I'm reading it all over again. Amazed as ever.
Moments like this, simultaneously jaded and genuine, sentimental and cynical, are the most delightful parts of 'Jurgen: A Comedy of Justice.' Nominally the story of a medieval pawnbroker's quest to find his lost wife, 'Jurgen' becomes a bildungsroman in reverse as, on the way, its hero regains his youth and visits the lands of European myth, from Camelot to Cocaigne (the land of pleasure) -- each land shows Jurgen a way of life, and he rejects each in favor of his own sardonic stoicism, for he is, after all, a "monstrously clever fellow."
That phrase describes Cabell as much as it does Jurgen: the author is remarkably erudite, and, like a doting parent hiding easter eggs, drops in-jokes through the book on subjects as far-ranging as troubadour poetry and tantric sex. Cabell corresponded with Aleister Crowley in his day, and, in ours, is an influence on Neil Gaiman ('The Sandman,' 'Neverwhere,' etc.). The book itself caused quite a splash when it became the centerpiece of one of the biggest censorship trials of the early 20th century: something to do with Jurgen's very large *ahem* sword.
Social satire and an idiosyncratic cynicism in the guise of a scholarly romance-fantasy, 'Jurgen' is what would have happened if J.R.R. Tolkien and Dorothy Parker had gotten together to write a book.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
One of the greatest novels of the 20th Century in my opinion. Imitated by dozens of authors and referenced in hundreds of novels, movies, and comic books.Published 13 months ago by Abraham
This is a remarkably fine reissue of an old favorite, with a helpful introduction and an appendix not easily found otherwise.Published 15 months ago by Jack J. Jernigan
No time to read it. I enjoyed Cabell's "The Cream of the Jest."Published 19 months ago by Art Rilling
One of my favourite books. The explicit sex is dated, so that a young reader would be baffled upon reading it and surprised to know that was what it is. Read morePublished 20 months ago by David Daniel Ball
Earlier in the century through the 1930's James Branch Cabell was one of the most popular authors in America. He was the favorite author of luminaries such as H.L. Read morePublished 23 months ago by Thomas Capers Jones
This is a possibly the author's best book. Elegantly written, with wry humor.Published on July 21, 2014 by WLL
This slim narrative is a writer's provocative Monty Pythonesque scoff at received Western culture's social and religious icons. Read morePublished on October 28, 2013 by Victoria Renegade
It's hard to believe it, but "Jurgen" was once a cause celebre. Widely banned in the US for its randy allusions, its open publication was supported by the likes of SInclair... Read morePublished on July 17, 2013 by Marc Haefele
This book was briefly notorious back in the 1920s, when a group in New York City tried to ban it as "obscene." Of course, sales exploded. Read morePublished on June 8, 2013 by Amazon Customer