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  • By Robert Michael Ellis
    Apr 27, 2011
    Eglantine Dream is an intriguing symbolic fantasy novel, set in a world of denial. The country of the Hens, where the story begins, may remind you a little of Apartheid South Africa or of Indian oppression of dalits - but its level of hypocritical denial goes much further. The despised under-race of the haeras is not exploited so much as totally ignored and denied, apart from the occasional rape, and an unacknowledged trade in intoxicating liquor called mada. The haeras are unintelligibility itself, we are warned quite early on, in an apparent hyperbole that tells us directly about the symbolic function of the haera. They are the unconscious and rejected aspects of our psyches, represented socially and politically in the form of a people. The Hen Gerald Garposier, on the other hand, is an academic hero, whose virtue is courageous investigation into the haera, even when he meets a stonewall of opposition and loses his post. As he finds out more about the haera, gradually developing his... More > academic curiosity into a more open spiritual quest, one is sometimes reminded of a blundering orientalist going native amongst the sadhus. He has to let go of his comfort, find courage, acknowledge grief, and gradually make himself more at home in a world of dirt, physicality, dreams and shamanism. His journey is, for the most part, one I found very convincing. It is clearly based on experience of challenging spiritual development. The novel is worth reading just to experience the dualistic world that Gerald starts off in, and the rewarding progress of his opening up of that world. This is a highly symbolic and very ambitious novel (and my practice is to use the word ‘ambitious’ as a compliment). It tries to get to the heart of what non-dualism consists in within an imaginative space – so it is hardly surprising if it does not totally succeed in doing this. I greatly admire the novel, at the same time as being rather dissatisfied with it in some ways. One aspect that did not quite work was the use of pidgin English to represent haera speech: this was difficult to read and I also found it unconvincing. I also found the later development and the ending of the novel unsatisfactory, because it was highly dependent on Buddhist metaphysics in a way that (though never explicit) was very obvious for anyone familiar with Buddhism, and did not seem to do justice to the characters' experience in the rest of the novel. My objections to the novel are mainly philosophical, and do not stop me highly recommending others to engage with it. The blurb on the back does not do any justice to what is interesting about this novel, on the basis of which you might just think it was a derivative fantasy novel. It is not: it is a highly original and well-worked symbolic exploration of dualism. For a more detailed version of this review which gives more information on my philosophical objections, see< Less
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Product Details

Apus Press
February 8, 2011
Perfect-bound Paperback
Interior Ink
Black & white
0.82 lbs.
Dimensions (inches)
6 wide x 9 tall
Product ID
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