Dæmonomania

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Dæmonomania
Daemonomania by John Crowley First Edition Cover.jpg
Cover of the First Edition of Dæmonomania by Bantam Books featuring Frans Floris' Fall of the Rebel Angels
Author John Crowley
Cover artist Laurie Jewell
Country United States of America
Language English
Series Ægypt Tetralogy
Genre Modern Fantasy
Publisher Bantam Books
Publication date
August 2000
Media type Print (1st edition)
Pages 451
ISBN 0-533-10004-1
Preceded by Love & Sleep
Followed by Endless Things

Daemonomania is a 2000 Modern Fantasy novel by John Crowley. It is Crowley's seventh novel, and as the third novel in Crowley's Ægypt Sequence, a sequel to Crowley's 1994 novel Love & Sleep. The novel follows protagonist Pierce Moffett as he continues his book project begun in The Solitudes about the Renaissance and Hermeticism, while dealing with a stormy relationship with his girlfriend Rosie Ryder.

Like the previous novels, the novel has four main narrative strands, one occurring in the present day generally following Pierce or Rosie Mucho in their artistic works, and two occurring in the Renaissance following the historical fictional activities of John Dee, Edward Kelley and Giordano Bruno as written by fictional novelist Fellowes Kraft. The difference is marked stylistically by dashes indicating dialogue for events that happened in the Renaissance and events in the twentieth century marked by dialogue in ordinary English quotation marks.

Background[edit]

The novel's title derives from De la Démonomanie des Sorciers a book purporting to be about demonology intended for would-be Exorcists written by sixteenth-century French Jurist and politician Jean Bodin. Pierce and Rosie encounter the book in Part I Chapter 13 among Fellowes Kraft's collection of rare books collected from his travels in Europe.

Thematically, the novel deals with the high numbers of demonic possessions and encounters with sorcery reported in the seventeenth century, precipitating a rise in dogmaticism among both Christians, Muslims and Scientific Thinkers at the time. In the Author's Note, Crowley cites the research of Nuccio Ordine, Angelo Maria Ripellino, Brian P. Levnack, Carlo Ginzburg, Ioan P. Culianu, and Deborah Vansau Mccauley.[1] The novel was Crowley's first work with editor Ron Drummond.

This novel of the sequence is sectioned based on the second three of the Astrological Houses. Uxor, signifying spouses or partnership; and Mors, signifying death or reincarnation; and Pietas, signifying journeys or philosophy.

Plot[edit]

In an Introductory chapter (chronologically taking place mid-way through the novel's plot), Pierce Moffett takes a bus ride from the Blackberry Jambs to New York City, reflecting on his relationship with Rose Ryder. While Pierce left his Catholic faith in adolescence, Rose is ardently pursuing her faith in the Powerhouse Christian sect. Involuntarily, Pierce's mind drifts, while reading Kierkegaard to the power of fairy tale scenarios to describe his anxieties; particularly that of a Knight having to lay down his sword and shield to negotiate his Lady's safety after she is in bondage to an evil magician.

In the Blackberry Jambs, Rosie Mucho has difficulties with Sam's epilepsy treatment. To aid Sam in the difficulty, Rosie promises Sam a Hallowe'en party in the nearby castle belonging to the Rassmusen Foundation, where Fellowes Kraft once tried, but failed to stage Marlowe's Faustus. Rosie brings Sam for treatment at a hospital called Conurbana, the attendant nurse turns out to be Bobby Shaftoe, who connects with Sam, and calms her immediately. At the same time, Mike Mucho is discouraged by Ray Honeybeare to allow Sam to be treated medically, instead aggressively suggesting she seek treatment "by the power of the Holy Spirit." After crashing her car, Pierce worries about Rose Ryder's activity with Mike Mucho's highly suspicious Christian sect and is indeed, seen practicing the psychological principles of "Climacterics" created by Mike Mucho introduced in the previous volume, along with spiritual exercises inspired by other members of the Powerhouse. She later attempts to encourage Pierce to join, who expresses disgust at the high fees of the group, and concern as to its theology (Pierce being a lapsed Catholic). Rose asks Pierce about some supposedly biblical concepts she has learned at The Powerhouse, and Pierce, despite his meagre Greek, assures her none of them are actually biblical. Pierce and Rose engage in rough, but consensual sex, having agreed on a system of safety words. Later, while cleaning Fellowes Kraft's house, now befret of Boney's knowledge of it, Rosie Mucho finds a copy of Bodin's Daemonomania. Pierce explains to her the observations of his History professor, Frank Walker Barr, that demoniac possession was a belief in the seventeenth and eighteenth century shared by nearly all of Europe, Catholic, Protestant, Atheist and Christian. She questions him as to whether epilepsy was considered demonic possession, Pierce surmising from his readings that most, including witch hunters, believed epilepsy to be a disease notably suffered by famous figures, not a possession. They join Val and Spofford at the Faraway Lodge Resort, and Spofford tells them about mysteriously powerful wolves threatening his flocks of sheep.

In the Renaissance, John Dee and Edward Kelley again contact the angel, Madimi, who in previous volumes, first commanded their wandering. She continues to promise various arcane knowledge, including things seen by no men since the Biblical Adam, along with the Alchemial secret of creating gold. The angel, to their horror, demands they burn all their papers pertaining to their contact with angels. They do, to have the books miraculously restored to them. Next, Kelley tells John Dee that the angels instructed them to sleep with each other's wives, in order to prepare the power of "generation" for their transformation of gold. While Dee is aghast at sharing the wife he loves, but agrees, Kelley is eager, despising his young wife. While Dee's wife assures him Kelley could not perform, Madimi does not appear to Dee for several months. Giordano Bruno, meanwhile, works on his dialogues on scientific and esoteric subjects, combining the insights of Renaissance scientists like Copernicus and Fabricio Mordente, with those of medieval writers like Al-Kindi, with his own Hermetic thought, often using the gods themselves as mouthpieces for his thoughts. He comes to vigorously attack, in dialogues and lectures, the doctrines of Neo-Aristotelianism, the dominating theory of both secular and church academics. At this point, late in his career, Bruno also begins to see the work of love, both sexual and platonic, as necessary for the working of magic. He freely lectures at the College of Cambrai, then takes a brief post in Wittenburg before, in a wave of piety, the University establishment rejects his teaching and dismisses him.

Madimi appears to John Dee again, insisting that she has not abandoned him. She informs him, to his horror that "All the angels are fallen angels," and that another war in heaven is about to be waged. Soon after, the secret of gold is revealed to Dee, and he, Kelley, and his sons, carry out the complicated procedure. Dee is later called into the court of Holy Roman Emperor Rudolf II to investigate a man named Peter Stumf found by hunters, who believe he is a werewolf. Under torture, the man admits to being one, and having killed others, but Dee remains skeptical. The Emperor in intrigued by Dee's case, ignoring his Bodin-influenced torturers in his court, observing that the man seems at least regretful and in a deep state of "melancholy". The boy informs Dee that while he is a werewolf, he is not a demoniac, instead, one who opposes and has previously thwarted the witches who plan to carry off the land's abundance to the "gates of hell." Dee leaves troubled. He is summoned again to the Emperor's presence on another occasion, and to his surprise, meets Bruno, summoned to the same occasion. Bruno addresses the Emperor, telling him of a past "Age of Gold," in which men are idle. The Emperor in intrugued, asking how men may return to it; Bruno responds by saying that the present Age of toil, will pass as well, along with many things, including the Emperor's kingdom. Bruno further declares his beliefs in humans on other planets, the enormity of the universe, and man's only option being to by the many varieties of Love to receive all into his Memory. The scholars of the court are shocked, but the Emperor intrigued. Bruno leaves Prague while still working on various Latin dialogues and poems. He brings his last manuscript to the printers in Frankfurt, believing he still has much work and study to do.

In a moment of intense worry about Rosie Ryder, Pierce visits the pastor of a Danish Brethren Church named Rhea Rasmussen. She agrees with his worry about The Powerhouse, suggesting that in the wane of dogmatic Churches, many religious groups catering to religious desire, display many of the signs of Cults. When Rosie meets Pierce again, she tells him, to his horror, of her experience speaking in tongues, and the Powerhouse's plans of producing a restored Aramaic New Testament rejecting linguistic scholarship, in favour of charismatic experience. Pierce strongly objects, and Rosie leaves him in anger, sending a letter shortly after detailing her experience with the dead, with a strong undercurrent of antisemitism that horrifies Pierce. He leaves briefly for New York, blaming himself for allowing Rosie to join the Powerhouse in the first place. Late at night, Pierce in fear calls on Rhea Rassmussen, who to his surprise arrives, and counsels him, despite his unbelief to deal with his fear for Rosie in prayer. He prays, and finally sleeps briefly, and calls Rosie, who tells him that Ray is discouraging their relationship, and wants to talk to Pierce.

John Dee, in low spirits, has his requests granted to return to England. While he has presented the Emperor with the alchemical gold he produced, the Emperor still demands a stone to transform objects into gold. The treatments he prepared to grant the Emperor fertility have also failed, and the court grown paranoid, hiring spies who may be watching Dee. Dee arranges for the man accused of being a werewolf, Jan, to seek passage to the New World with Dee as he leaves Prague. He leaves Kelley behind, who on telling the Emperor of his supposed Irish nobility, is Knighted. Dee is further shocked when Kelley tells him and the court that all their alchemical practices were all derived from Kelley's own intuition, and not occult means. In an effort to lighten the load of their ship off the Continent, Dee spills the gold on the ground, much of which has somehow decayed and stinks. He finally returns to England (narrowly missing the premiere of Marlowe's Faustus), and remains destitute for some time, until finally finding a wardenship at Manchester College. In the face of growing persecution, he refuses to harm Catholics, and treats those accused of demonic possession with caution, but kindness. He eventually hears word that Kelley has died, and in fear at his own growing reputation as a wizard, retires from public life, gaining money only by selling his books.

On a visit to New York, Beau Brachman is given a tract from a quasi-Gnostic sect, advocating the worship of the exiled "Sophia" as primordial to all religious practice, and the only escape from mankind's "imprisonment." He takes the tract, remembering another copy early in his life, reflecting on how he has followed the broad demands of Ancient Gnosticism to seek spiritual pleasure, but not to procreate. Beau makes contact with a gnostic-like cult in the wilderness beyond the Blackberry Jambs led by an aging patriarch, Plato Goodenough. Goodenough's teachings involve accepting of the power systems in place in the Universe, ultimately seeking communion with the natural order.Rosie Rassmussen, meanwhile, visits Allan Butterman, who tells her that the Woods, still in the hands of the Rasmussen Foundation, has gone bankrupt, but has received an offer for a buyout from The Powerhouse. Rose realizes that the Mike may use the custody of Sam to gain The Woods. In The Woods themselves, Mike tells Ray about his worries of taking Sam off her epilepsy medication. Ray accuses Mike of a lack of faith, pressing him to get full custody of Sam by whatever means necessary. The next morning, Rose is tricked by Mike into appearing at the wrong time for the custody hearing, losing Sam, having been given the right to take Sam from Rose's house.

Pierce and Rosie do attend the masked costume ball held at the town's castle. Rosie wears a white mask found in Boney's room, that she believes represents Night. During the party, Pierce meets another masked figure he does not recognize, who claims to have once tried to mount an amateur production Marlowe's Faustus at the castle, cancelling it when the production complications multiplied beyond his abilities. He seems to suggest he expects Pierce to "finish the work", though Pierce is uncertain of what work he means, running off. The accompanying band plays a song Pierce recognizes as adapted from Catullus's famous fifth carmen, which features the line Nox est perpetua una dormienda. Val immediately recognizes that "Una Nox" means "One Night" in Latin, which Boney mysteriously requested in his will. Later, Pierce in confronted by Rose Ryder, who accuses him of only being interested in their relationship for the sex. Pierce is taken aback, and tells her his plans to shortly propose marriage in hopes of settling their issues. Rose refuses, saying that she can not in good conscience marry outside her faith. He tries to find her at her apartment the next day, finding only Bobby Shaftoe, who tells him Rose has left for Indiana. Pierce later receives a call from her, saying she is traveling with other Powerhouse members past Ohio, but without Mike. Pierce calls Spofford, believing Mike, with Sam, is still at The Woods.

Meanwhile, Mike leads Sam through The Woods, shutting down lights, and reducing their operations to be least visible. Even at Sam's request, Mike is withholding her medication. She shortly begins to have attacks, to which Mike responds only by praying. Val, Spofford, Beau, Rosie Rassmussen and Cliff prepare to storm The Woods at night to retrieve Sam. Beau insists he go alone, and after talking with Mike, to everyone's shock, returns Sam to Rosie, telling her to leave, and that he will not be coming back.

Frustrated with his book project, Pierce plans to abandon it. Rosie, now at peace with Sam and Spofford, insists that Pierce take a research grant Boney had wished him to, the same as that Kraft took, to research in Prague itself. In the Renaissance, Bruno, after a lengthy series of trials, is found guilty of heresy by a consistory of Cardinals and Inquisotors General. He is unafraid as he is stripped naked, and tied to a stake, turning away from a cross offered him. A series of conflicting documents report Bruno having been only burned in effigy, disappeared, or accepted his fate saying he would ascend to Paradise upon his death. In the confusion of the crowd, an Ass tied near the area escapes, and wanders out of the city. The chest Mary Philomel unlocked in the previous volume is revealed to not have opened, but responded with sounds resembling internal clockwork continuing for several years and coming to a stop at the novel's end.

Characters[edit]

As earlier stated, the novel follows both characters in the present, as well as those in the Historical novels written by unseen character Fellowes Kraft.

Characters in The Present

  • Pierce Moffett-The novel's protagonist. While still working on his book project, Pierce becomes especially interested in continued ways past systems of knowledge, even magical, can be relevant in the present. In Dæmonomania, Pierce experiments with sexual dominance with his girlfriend Rosie Ryder, but at the same time, loses her to the Authoritarian Christian Cult, The Powerhouse.
  • Rosie Ryder-Pierce's lover throughout the novel who in initiated into, and joins a Christian cult called The Powerhouse led by Rosie Mucho's ex-husband Mike.
  • Rosie Mucho (née Rasmussen)-Pierce's close friend. Throughout the novel, Rosie deals with her daughter Sam Mucho's epilepsy, first encountered at the end of Love & Sleep, and brief custody battle, ultimately losing Sam to her ex-husband Mike.
  • Axel Moffett-Pierce's estranged father, now living with his male partner "Gravely" who dies in the course of the novel.
  • Mike Mucho-Rosie's ex-husband. Mike was first introduced as a psychologist in the previous volumes, but in Dæmonomania the organization he works for is revealed as a front for the quasi-Christian cult The Powerhouse.
  • Bobby Shaftoe-The character from Pierce's childhood, first encountered in Love & Sleep again appears, now an orderly at the pediatrics wing of the hospital where Rosie's daughter Sam is treated. Her past experience with Appalachian Churches is detailed, along with family lore suggesting she may have inhuman ancestors. She joins The Powerhouse and briefly lives with Rosie Ryder.
  • Ray Honeybeare-The leader of The Powerhouse cult, who encourages Mike to regain Sam and prevent her from receiving medical attention.

Characters of the The Renaissance

  • John Dee-The Elizabethan cryptographer, doctor, alchemist and skryer. In the course of the novel, Dee discovers how to create Gold in Prague, but returns to England around mounting political pressure and paranoia.
  • Madimi-The childlike being that guided Dee and Kelley to Prague. In Dæmonomania, she puts Dee and Kelley to the test in order to receive the secrets of creating gold.
  • Holy Roman Emperor Rudolf II-The pope-crowned "Singular and Universal Monarch of the Whole Wide World"[2] and the patron of Kelley and Dee. In Dæmonomania he becomes interested in Dee's skepticism as to demons and werewolves, and invites Bruno to speak in his court.
  • Giordano Bruno-The Dominican Friar, writer, and academic. In Dæmonomania, reveals his speculations including those about life on multiple planets to the court of Holy Roman Emperor Rudolf II
  • Edward Kelley-John Dee's assistant, who eventually denounces Dee, and is knighted while in Prague.

Reception[edit]

Critic Harold Bloom praised the novel, calling it "A Masterpiece of spiritual insight and of superb style and characterization.[3]

Publishers Weekly positively reviewed the book, focusing on its ability to include philosophical and historical material into a novel still within the fantasy genre.[4] The novel was briefly and negatively reviewed in the New York Times, the reviewer uncertain of any connection at all between the two storylines.[5] In The Village Voice, Elizabeth hand published an overview of the entire series, praising Daemonomania for its engagement of the darker aspects of the Renaissance, American spirituality, and Pierce's sexual drives.[6]

James Hynes wrote a long article advocating Crowley's be considered "a serious literary reputation" on the release of Daemonomania, calling the three books already released of the series "already, unfinished–an astonishing accomplishment".[7] Hynes pointed out that many other reviewers, particularly Jeff Waggoner, reviewed the novel improperly, having missed the connection between the previous volumes as comprising a series.[7]

Further reading[edit]

  • Crowley, John (2000). Daemonomania. New York: Bantam Books. ISBN 0553100041. 
  • Snake's-hands : The Fiction of John Crowley. Canton, OH: Cosmos Books. 2003. ISBN 978-1587155093.  |first1= missing |last1= in Authors list (help)

References[edit]

  1. ^ Crowley, John (2000). "Author's Note". Daemonomania. New York: Bantam Books. p. 452. ISBN 0553100041. 
  2. ^ Crowley, John (1994). Love & sleep. New York: Bantam Books. p. 419. ISBN 0553096427. 
  3. ^ Crowley, John; Harold Bloom (2000). Daemonomania. New York: Bantam Books. p. Cover. ISBN 0553100041. 
  4. ^ "Fiction Review: Daemonomania". Publishers Weekly. July 31, 2000. Retrieved 30 March 2013. 
  5. ^ Waggoner, Jeff (September 17, 2000). "Daemonomania". New York Times. Retrieved 30 March 2013. 
  6. ^ Hand, Elizabeth (August 15, 2000). "Occult Classic". The Village Voice. Retrieved 25 May 2013. 
  7. ^ a b Hynes, James (December 2000). "Genre Trouble". Boston Review. Retrieved 24 March 2012. 

External links[edit]