A self-Review of “Tranquility”; addendum & apologia
“What are this?”
Seven is a boy in crisis. He’s had a revelation and laments to his ‘friends’ the prevailing cruelty and loss of faith. Meanwhile, a memoir surfaces in which a decadent Hungarian strangles everyone in sight
To: “What is it about?” we plead that the synoptic process induces more headaches than the creative one. However, on behalf of the projected readership, here lies a weird and repellant comic yarn rendered as an indulgent memoir, melded with a gentle pastoral revelation.
Tranquility is thus a novel of twinned stories, running in thematic tandem. One is a semi-divine love story allegorically based on the Revelation, the other a memoir by an elegant lunatic, Bela Kiss, recorded in the 1930s.
Both tales have lushly absurd historical facts, parodies of modern scholarship, are connected with the help of a Greek chorus and by eternal themes (faith, love, greed, justice and death).
The book’s title is its ironic watermark. Neither protagonist finds the tranquil cessation from hankering he craves. However, their fates transcend their respective lives.
Described by Colin Wilson as “reminiscent of Nabokov, smooth and easy to read”, Tranquility is a stone polished over decades*, a curio that demands reading and reflection. [*See Ulalume: ‘Tranquility in Sorrento’]
You may ask: “Why do certain sections follow an ancient format slavishly, calibrated to reiterate the same rancid number?” But there is weariness and still so much for us to do. You can read the thing properly and that should help. There is also a bibliography and some notes below. ‘The rest is silence.’
As the book’s footnotes are even less reliable than those of Eliot’s The Waste Land, TVC supplies some additional explanatory notes to enable scholars of the future to write essays on autopilot.
Page 34. Patmos was in the Aegean Sea; λ 26.6°; 37.4°.
Page 45: “cool competence – For more on omnicompetence, omnipotence, omnipresence and omniscience vs. free will, see Paradise Lost, book three (“if I foreknew, foreknowledge had no influence on their fault”), The Consolation of Philosophy, book five, and The Discarded Image, chapter vi-D.
Page 97: ‘Know one’s place in the world’, from the Greek: see The Fatal Impact, part II, chapter III.
Page 110: ‘wedding house..’: The seductress “abides in the tents of silence.” – Dead Sea Scrolls.
Page 137: See, generally, The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire.
Page 201: King Mwanga – See Glasson, p. 45, “I have purchased the road to Uganda with my blood.”
Page 241: See Poe, Hop Frog.
Page 254: The Good Ship Aniki-Bobo is of course an homage to Manoel de Oliveira (11 Dec. 1908 – 2 April 2015).
Pages 259-269: This poem seems to have ‘inspired’ the film Bluebeard (1973) written by Ennio Di Concini, although drawn from the original story by Charles Perrault.
The allegories are drawn with help from Revelation I – VII (straying slightly into VIII), and Exodus, 22:18, Deuteronomy, 18:10, 11, 12, Leviticus, 19:26, 31, Isaiah, 8:19, 11:1, Numbers, 22:7, Acts, 16:14-16, Micah, 6:13-16, Jude, 8, Amos, 5:7,8, Ezekiel, 2:9, 10, Genesis 49:9.
A Working Bibliography: Textual, general and visual
Apocrypha (translated by E.J. Goodspeed, 1938)
Boethius, A.M.S. The Consolation of Philosophy (525)
Chateaubriand, Francois-Rene, The Genius of Christianity (1873)
Dead Sea Scrolls (translated by Geza Vermes, (1962)
Dennett, E. The Visions of John in Patmos (1919)
Glasson, T.F. The Revelation of John (1965)
Graves, R. The Greek Myths (1955)
Haggith, D. Prophets of the Apocalypse (1999)
Kiddle, M. The Revelation of St. John (1940)
Koran (translated by N.J. Dashwood, 1956)
Lewis, C.S. The Discarded Image (1964)
Milton, J. Paradise Lost (1667)
Moberly, C.A.E. Five Visions of the Revelation (1939)
Roberts, R. The Apocalypse (1921)
Seiss, J.A. The Apocalypse (1882)
Smith,U. Daniel and the Revelation (1944)
Testaments, New and Old
Albee E. Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (1962)
Bellow, S. Henderson the Rain King (1959)
Burton, R, The Anatomy of Melancholy (1621)
Caesar, J G, De Bello Gallico (58-51BC)
Carlyle, T. The French Revolution (1888)
Chateaubriand, Francois-Rene, Memoirs (1841)
Chaucer, Geoffrey, The Canterbury Tales (c. 1400)
Cheetham, E. The Prophecies of Nostradamus (1973)
Chesterton, G.K., The Man Who Was Thursday (1908)
Coleridge S.T., “Kubla Khan” (1797)
Dante Alighieri, The Divine Comedy (c. 1309-1320)
Dickens,C. Bleak House (1852-3)
Frazer, J.G. The Golden Bough (1890)
Gibbon, E. The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire (1776)
Graves, R. “The Shout” (1924)
Haldeman, C. The Snowman (1965)
Hartmann, N. Ethics (1932)
Hesse H., Steppenwolf (1927)
Jones, E. The Life and Work of Sigmund Freud (1953)
Kant E. Fundamental Principles of the Metaphysic of Morals (1785)
Keats, J, “Ode to a Nightingale” (1819)
Kissinger H. White House Years (1979)
Years of Upheaval (1982)
Years of Renewal (1999)
Kleist, B.H.W. von “The Earthquake in Chile” (1806-07)
Lawson, H. “The English Queen” (1892)
Lindsay N. The Magic Pudding (1918)
Madox Ford, “On Heaven” (1914)
Marx & Engels, Collected Works (1975)
Maugham, W.S. The Moon and Sixpence (1919)
Moorehead, A. The Fatal Impact (1966)
Nabokov, V. Transparent Things (1973)
Naipaul V S. A House for Mr. Biswas (1961)
Nixon, R M. RN:The Memoirs of Richard Nixon (1978)
Pascal, B. The Provincial Letters (1656)
Poe, E.A. “Hop-Frog” (1849)
Pound E. The Cantos (Thrones) (1959)
From ‘Blast’, volume one (1914)
Rolle R. The Fire of Love (1343) [trans. by C.Wolters] Safire, W. Before the Fall (1975)
Shakespeare, W. Cymbeline (c. 1609)
Julius Caesar (c. 1601)
Measure For Measure (c. 1603)
Richard II (c. 1594)
Snow C.P. The Sleep of Reason (1968)
Swinburne, A.G. Songs Before Sunrise (1871)
Tennyson, A. “The Coming of Arthur” (1859)
Tolkien J.R.R., The Fellowship of the Ring (1954)
Wagner R. “Das Rheingold” (1869)
Woodard,C. The Republic of Pirates (2007)
Woodward & Bernstein, The Final Days (1976)
Yeats, W.B. Michael Robartes and the Dancer (1921)
Anonymous – “The Opening of the Sixth Seal” (c. 1260)
Blake, William – “The Four and Twenty Elders Casting Their Crowns before the Divine Throne” (c. 1805);
“Death on a Pale Horse” (1800)
Bondol, Jean & Nicolas de Bataille – “The Opening of the Fourth Seal” (c. 1381)
Brown, Roger – “The Final Arbiter” (1984)
Grubb, N, Revelations:Art of the Apocalypse (1997)
Hubert & Jan van Eyck – “Adoration of the Mystic Lamb” (1432)
Limbourg Brothers – “St John on Patmos Contemplating the Vision of the Lamb Enthroned, the Four Beings, and the Twenty-Four Elders” (1413)
Memling, Hans – “John on Patmos” (1479)
Rousseau, Henry – “War”(c. XIX/C)
“I have tried to write Paradise
Do not move
Let the wind speak
that is paradise.” [Ezra Pound, Canto CXX]
(An early hand-wrought illuminated cover – not exactly the Rothschild Prayer Book, but still…)