Monday, August 15, 2011

More about Melusine!

Book Review: The Romance of the Faery Melusine by André Lebey  [from Inner Light Journal]
Translated by Gareth Knight
ISBN 978-1-908011-32-9 Publisher: Skylight Press 
We owe a debt of thanks to Gareth Knight for making André Lebey’s work available to us, in what I found to be a vivid and readable style. It is the mediaeval legend, of course, as we may have learned from Mr. Knight’s previous work, but written as a novel, a very French novel. The style may be seen as florid, in the sense that the French “Great Encyclopaedia of Faeries” may also seem florid, but this attention to detail, colour and romance….and this IS a Romance…bring the tale uniquely alive, the imagery is so vital that it is like watching a film.

As you can probably tell, I loved this book. I read it with the music of French folkies “Malicorne” playing in the background, and I savoured every word. Yes, the descriptions are so evocative that one can almost taste them!
Lebey/Knight have achieved a hyperrealism through an almost hallucinatory pageant of minutiae which build and heighten the sense of time and place, of mood, of emotion, creating from the bare bones of legend a world entire. And it’s action packed! All human life is there, love and loss, bravery, betrayal…The people are real, though distant in space and time; we are shown, as it were, a myth through a series of masques or tapestries that dazzle and delight the senses.
Comparisons are odious, but if you are thinking to yourself “the reviewer loves it, but will I?” then if you like what Evangeline Walton did with Celtic myth, you probably will. There is in Lebey/Knight’s book a particularly French sensibility which makes it unique, of course. Here is a master of story weaving his magic and bringing the lovely lady Melusine back to us once more, impressing the legend firmly into our mind’s eye.

1 comment:

Ian Rees said...

I echo the comment of the reviewer-it is a beautiful and textured novel moving slowly but vividly bringing the figure of Melusine into focus and depth.

Melusine is a fascinating and intriguing figure bridging as she does the human and faery worlds and in an odd way the worlds of Avalon and Jerusalem. Both this book and Gareth Knights 2 earlier books seem to me to be delineating a current of work that is potentially redemptive in many different directions and centrally tied to the rediscovery of the Grail Hallows not as external objects but as mystery processes that are held jointly by Human and Faerie.

As someone who lives in Glastonbury and who works regularly in Jerusalem I see much potential in what is being offered to us in what can seem like a quaint story of faery ancestry.

The juxtaposition of the apparently ethereal world of the Faerie with the blood guts and ancient hatreds and holiness of Jerusalem might seem a trivial thing-a bit like calling on Tinkerbell to save the world but trust me Faerie can handle it.

The encounter with the Christian mystery with faery is at the heart of the grail and arthurian traditions and in these books it seems to me we are seeing a new unveiling of that mystery