Wednesday, 18 January 2012

Return to Elysium

Title: Return to Elysium

Author: Joan Grant

Year of publication: 1947, Corgi edition 1976

Back cover blurb: A Novel of Reincarnation
   "During the last twenty years, seven books of mine have been published as historical novels which to me are biographies of previous lives I have known."
   Joan Grant from her autobiography FAR MEMORY
   Lucina was the young ward of a Greek philosopher who called his estate near Athens "Elysium".  She was too human not to be a disturbing influence on the exclusively masculine society in which she was reared; too clear-sighted to accept the rigidity of her education; and too romantic to remain content with the power she gained as the founder of a mystic cult in the young and primitive city of Rome.  She is at last to find and cross the river Styx to discover an existence that transcends death, to live once again, and to RETURN TO ELYSIUM....

Quick flick reveals: Joan Grant's novels aren't so much lost, as severely marginalised (they were last reprinted just a couple of years ago).  This must at least be partly because there can only be so much room in the literary canon (that is to say, none) for novels based on alleged reminiscences of the author's past lives.

This book looks readable enough, and there is an interesting feminist slant by the look of it, although the prose isn't that inspiring.  Presumably something was lost when the actual remembered events were translated from the ancient Greek.  Although I had the opportunity to also acquire many other books by Joan Grant, all inspired presumably by other past lives, other than her autobiography (more of which in a bit), I didn't feel compelled to get the set.  If only she'd been a Bronte sister in a past life.

Random paragraph: 'I heard the noise again: it was human, and relief left my knees limp as asparagus.  It was a man crying, the sobs muffled as though he was trying to hide his head under the pillow.  Agamemnon, having one of his lonely defeats.  I was enormously grateful to him for making me feel strong and competent.  Dear Agamemnon!'

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