Tag Archives: John Cowper Powys

The Stones Rocked

[image taken from Tony Lovell’s front cover of ‘Horror Without Victims’]

The Stones rocked last night the other side of the Tor. A new Glistenberry Festival. An old Weirdtongue croaking out to the animal zodiac in them there hills. The Abbey Ruins wiggling back to life. Paint it Black.

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‘Morwyn’ – John Cowper Powys


Above is my copy of ‘Morwyn‘ by John Cowper Powys that I bought new: i.e. the Sphere Books  ‘The Dennis Wheatley Library of the Occult’ edition published in 1977, the novel’s first publication having been in 1937.

The front cover has this sub-heading: “The Classic Novel of a Terrifying Journey into Hell” but the sub-title on the inside title page is ‘The Vengeance of God’.


My first edition of PORIUS by John Cowper Powys (1951 Macdonald: London):



My review of ‘The Inmates’ by John Cowper Powys HERE.

My favourite quotes from ‘The Glastonbury Romance’ by John Cowper Powys HERE.




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Book Stains


A photo taken this morning for my SOUL STAINS article HERE.

“I feel that the souls of original writers — for the more original a writer is, the more powerful is the pressure of his projected soul — are real presences that have their dwelling inside the printed pages of the author’s books;…”
– from ‘The Inmates’ by John Cowper Powys

“Every book has a soul. The soul of the person who wrote it and of those who read it and lived and dreamed with it. Every time a book changes hands, every time someone runs his eyes down its pages, its spirit grows and strengthens.”
— from ‘The Shadow Of The Wind’ by Carlos Ruiz Zafon

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My personal copy of ‘A Glastonbury Romance’


By John Cowper Powys in 1933. Above is a Picador bought new in 1975. Next year I took my then young family on holiday to Glastonbury. I am rereading it in 2012, and the gap shows where I have got up to so far.

My choice of quotes from it: http://weirdtongue.wordpress.com/quotations-from-the-glastonbury-romance-by-john-cowper-powys/

Just reached the aesthetic, workmanlike, spiritual and psychotic emanations from Sam Dekker’s ‘clay-hauling’. (Or ‘hawling’: https://nullimmortalis.wordpress.com/2012/11/18/hawling-in-john-cowper-powys/)


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A Cage For The Nightingale – Phyllis Paul

By Phyllis Paul
A novel first published 1957
The Sundial Press (2012) with introduction by Glen Cavaliero
 Beautiful hardback book that I recently purchased from the publisher.

phyllis paul, a cage for the nightingale, glen cavaliero, sundial press

Below is a real-time review that may take me days, weeks, months or years to complete… (my previous such reviews linked from HERE)

One, Two
“Owl-voices, cries in the night –“
I have not read Phyllis Paul’s work before but when I first saw this novel advertised I simply knew that it would be just up my street, being, as I am, a long-term fan of Elizabeth Bowen (who died in the same year as PP, that link being to my own site I created in EB’s honour) and currently re-reading ‘The Glastonbury Romance’ by John Cowper Powys, both of which authors have been mentioned in connection with this Sundial Press book. And I can tell, this early in the book, that I am not mistaken. I am rather excited at the prospect of reading the rest of it, although I may savour it slowly.  A novel of such deeply textured, yet limpid, prose deserves savouring. The first chapter summons up, by inference of a tentative fire warming a room, a young (children or young adults?) brother and sister preparing to visit a house in the country with resonances of past ominous connections with them and a man they hardly know. I will not repeat the plot in this review, but hopefully just give impressions as I go through the book. So far, Frances Oliver‘s work comes to mind and an echo of ‘Twin Peaks’ when the owl-voices are mentioned in the second chapter that evokes a woman in her early twenties about to be a governess  of an obliquely unwell girl – as this woman writes to a friend about living in the same country house, I presume, that the brother and sister earlier discussed by fitful firelight… [The device of that fire reminds me (if I may be self-indulgent for a moment) of my own use of a carpet at the beginning of ‘Nemonymous Night‘ as characters gradually emerge walking upon it, a feeling of one’s way to establish identities…] (1 Oct 12 – 7.45 pm bst]

Three, Four
“With these words in my ears, I descended on a stair-carpet of such exaggerated pile that there was no sound to distract me from their echoes;”
We home in further upon identities via objective correlatives like that carpet and a rose, even via a person like the house’s neighbour, as we learn of the interview  hurdles Rachel the companion (not governess, perhaps) of the mysterious girl (age?) needs to jump (selfward and external) to take up her position so as to care for that girl who needs a place of mental Doctoring within, it seems, against a sensible grain, the house where it all happened, where what happened? “…yet a doorway is always a centre of interest.” Each turn of the paradoxically gentle teasing of the narrative screw allows us to get closer to the Doctoring Constantine responsible for those mental needs and why we are all travelling, we band of readers, toward that very house along with others travelling there and those already close by.  All in a skilful ‘al dente’ prose and dialogue style of ‘genius loci’ via, strangely, character and via, of course, place….“…the latent monstrosity brought out by the owl-light.” (2 Oct 12 – 10.30 am bst)

Five, Six
“He found himself standing before the window, with the curtain lifted, looking straight towards the big house. He could see a good deal of it, in spite of the leaves.”
An arguable forerunner of the HOUSE of Leaves (with a CS Lewisian  “wardrobe”?), with the various narrative perspectives (even Satan the cat’s ‘immanent’ one) leading me to feel that this book is exceeding my already high expectations of it. I am both this book’s ‘disassociated’ neighbour and its tenant (a dualistic emblem for Rachel’s ‘out and in’ viewpoint as she tries to fathom her charge Victoria and what happened once). It is a dream that is decidedly not “safe as sleep” . And I ask:  “What am I doing in this queer show?”  What are you? For me, I’d risk even my own sanity to read this fine prose. Its scowls and frowns, its knowing resonances. “The carpets are particularly rich and thick — everything is thick-piled, as you might say.”  (2 Oct 12 – 7.00 pm bst)

Seven, Eight, Nine
“…the divine afflatus descended on an instrument still too crude for it,…”
…in a similar way to this book upon the reader — or vice versa, as I, for one, multi-infer much from the various narrator pecking-orders underpinning this section of LP Hartleyesque  ‘go-betweens’ (literal and figurative), ‘blind agents’, ‘love letters’ and packages together with some concupiscent innuendo between author and me about pre- or post-adolescent girls. This resides within an almost ‘whodunit’ ambiance depicting a finishing-school or health clinic run by a dubiously foreign near-‘quack’, a scenario reminiscent (in a synergistic rather than derivative way) of ‘The Ghosts of Summer’ and other works by an author I mentioned earlier in this review.  All threaded through (or by) some gorgeous Autumnal prose that dreamily structures the inferred chronology. (3 Oct 12 – 2.15 pm bst)

Ten, Eleven
“As if we were a little isolated group of contagious cases, who did not know we were ill –“
We begin to sense the motivations of the house’s enclosed community, and of those outsiders like we readers and the neighbour Henry … but Victoria is both inside and outside herself, Rachel the ‘companion’, too. Meanwhile, some of the ciphers in the community grow characters of their own. But who or what the “quarry”,  victim or culprit? … Constantine, mind-doctor or mind-doctored?  Very intriguing,  slowly meted-out plot: also resonating with my fifty years of interest in Wimsatt’s  ‘Intentional Fallacy’ literary theory — on which subject I confirm that, as is common with all my real-time reviews, I shall not be reading the book’s introduction till after I have read and reviewed the complete fiction itself. (3 Oct 12 – 7.55 pm bst)




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My reading-lifetime’s Hall of Fame

Image by Tony Lovell (2011)

My reading-lifetime’s Hall of Fame in no particular order:

Charles Dickens, Christopher Priest, AS Byatt, Enid Blyton, May Sinclair, HP Lovecraft, Barbara Vine, Reggie Oliver, Anita Brookner, WG Sebald, Jeremy Reed, Ian McEwan, Elizabeth Bowen, Stephen King, Oliver Onions, Marcel Proust, Salman Rushdie, Glen Hirshberg, Paul Auster, Mark Valentine, John Fowles, Edgar Allan Poe, John Cowper Powys, Lord Dunsany, Algernon Blackwood, Jack Vance, Philip K Dick, Jeff VanderMeer, Samuel R Delany, Anthony Burgess, Susanna Clarke, Rhys Hughes, Lawrence Durrell, MR James, Robert Aickman, Sarban, Ramsey Campbell, Thomas Ligotti, Tommaso Landolfi, Kazuo Ishiguro, Quentin S. Crisp.

This is a list including writers I once considered in my Hall of Fame but now rarely read, and new writers whose works I read quite a lot and have included in my Hall of Fame fairly recently and variations upon that, but all have been major reading experiences some time in my life.  Apologies to those I’ve inadvertently omitted because of my semi-Proustian memory.


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