Ex Libris Kirkland

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First Written 1930
Genre Fiction
Origin UK
Publisher Pelligrini & Cudahy
My Copy first american edition
First Read September 23, 2006

War in Heaven

I brought this book up in a recent talk I gave about Prester John, and then it went and got featured in the New Yorker. So I picked it up again, and it's just as weird and wonderful as I remembered. A murder mystery, a psychadelic black mass, and a celebratory mystical church service to end it. It's stuff like this that made me love Charles Williams.

Noted on March 30, 2013

I first read this back in 2005 or 2006 but re-reading in fall 2010 I was THUNDERSTRUCK to realize that the mysterious character who shows up at the end is not an angel or messenger. He's my favorite new obsession of the last few years, everyone's favorite mythical priest-king: Prester John. Fantastic.

Noted on November 18, 2010

"We don't go to church as regularly as we should."

"It is a means," he answered, "one of the means. But perhaps the best for most, and for some almost the only one. I do not say that it matters greatly, but the means cannot both be and not be. If you do not use it, it is a pity to bother about it; if you do, it is a pity not to use it."

Quoted on March 30, 2013

Mornington answered, smiling. "Most of our authors feel they have written the most important book of the century."

"Ah, don't misunderstand me," the Archdeacon replied. " I might think that myself-I don't, but I might. It wouldn't make any difference to my attitude towards it. No book of ideas can matter so supremely as that. 'An infant crying in the night,' you know. What else was Aristotle?

Quoted on March 30, 2013

"That is the weakness of the the flesh," Lionel said. "One shouldn't snigger over Jeeves any more than one should snivel over Othello. Perfect art is beyond these easy emotions. I think Jeeves - the whole book, preferably with the illustrations - one of the final classic perfections of our time. It attains absolute being. Jeeves and his employer are one and yet diverse. It is the Don Quixote of the twentieth century."

Quoted on November 18, 2010

Prester John announces himself!

"My name is John," he said, "and you know some, I think, that know me."

Gregory thought of his enemies. "That pestilent priest, perhaps?" he sneered. "Or the popinjay of a Duke? Are these your friends? Or is the Duke too vulgar for you? What kings have you in the house of which you brag?"

"Seventy kings have eaten at my table," the stranger said. "You say well, for I myself and king and priest and sib to all priests and kings."

Quoted on November 18, 2010

"I will not bargain any more for anything, if I can help it. How can one bargain for anything that is worth while? And what else is worth bargaining for?"

Quoted on November 18, 2010

"Yes," said the stranger. "You will understand the horrible position I'm in if I tell you my name. I am Aubrey Duncan Peregrine Mary de Lisle D'Estrange, Duke of the North Ridings, Marquis of Craigmullen and Plessing, Earl and Viscount, Count of the Holy Roman Empire, Knight of the Sword and Cape and several other ridiculous fantasies."

Mornington pinched his lip. "Yes, I see," he said. "That must make it difficult to do anything with poetry."

Quoted on November 18, 2010

...his father had shivered and grown silent. And had thereafter died, trying not to believe in God lest he should know himself damned.

Quoted on November 18, 2010

Mornington suspected his Christianity of being the inevitable result of having moved for some time as a youth of eighteen in circles which were, in a rather detached and superior way, opposed to it; but it was a religion which enabled him to despise himself and everyone else without despising the universe, thus allowing him at once in argument or conversation the advantages of the pessimist and the optimist.

Quoted on November 18, 2010

Ex Libris Kirkland is a super-self-absorbed reading journal made by Matt Kirkland. Copyright © 2001 - .
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