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Susanna Clarke-Piranesi



Today’s sharing from the Blue House are two excerpts from Susanna’s Clarke’s novel, ‘PIRANESI’, Bloomsbury, 2020. Dear friends, we just finished to read it and will re-read it immediately so to be sure we didn’t miss any details during our first reading, so much we were continuously surprised by the unfolding of the narration. It is very impressive, unexpected, with twists that will make you jump in awe.

We are sure that lovers of the Classics will smile with delight discovering this well-crafted tale pointing us towards the living essence of the ancient world before it was meticulously destroyed for the capture of our souls. ‘For there is nothing hidden that will not be disclosed, and nothing concealed that will not be made known and brought to light‘ says the scripture. Susanna Clarke does this through the weaving of a spell-binding story. We invite you to discover this very special novel that will most certainly put you on your own journey of discovery.


Excerpt 1, Pages 88/89.

…/… ‘Did Ketterley tell you how this world was made?’ he asked.

‘No, sir’.

‘Would you like to know?’

‘Very much, sir’ I said.

He looked gratified by my interest. ‘Then i will tell you. It began when i was young, you see. I was always so much more brilliant than my peers. My first great insight happened when i realised how much humankind has lost. once, men and women were able to turn themselves into eagles and fly immense distances. They communed with rivers and mountains and received wisdom from them. They felt the turning of the stars inside their own minds. My contemporaries did not understand this. They were all enamoured with the idea of progress and believed that whatever was new must be superior to what was old. As if merit was a function of chronology! But it seemed to me that the wisdom of the ancients could not have simply vanished. Nothing simply vanishes. It’s not actually possible. I pictured it as a sort of energy flowing out of the world and i thought that this energy must be going somewhere. That was when i realised that there must be other places, other worlds. And so i set myself to find them.’ …/…


Excerpt 2, pages 147-148.

…/… ‘Laurence Arne-Sayles began with the idea that the Ancients had a different way of relating to the world, that they experienced it as something that interacted with them. When they observed the world, the world observed them back. if, for example, they travelled in a boat on a river, then the river was in some way aware of carrying them on its back and had in fact agreed to it. When they looked up to the stars, the constellation were not simply patterns enabling them to organise what they saw, they were vehicles of meaning, a never-ending flow of information. The world was constantly speaking to Ancient Man.

All of this was more or less within the bounds of conventional philosophical history, but where Arne-Sayles diverged from his peers was in his insistence that this dialogue between the Ancients and the world was not simply something that happened in their heads; it was something that happened in the actual world. The way the Ancients perceived the world was the way the world truly was. This gave them extraordinary influence and power. Reality was not only capable of taking part in a dialogue-intelligible and articulate- it was also persuadable. Nature was willing to bend to men’s desires, to lend them its attributes. Seas could be parted, men could turn into birds and fly away, or into foxes and hide in dark woods, castles could be made out of clouds.

Eventually the Ancients ceased to speak and listen to the world. When this happened the World did not simply fall silent, it changed. Those aspects of the world that had been in constant communication with Men-whether you call them energies, powers, spirits, angels or demons-no longer had a place or a reason to stay and so they departed. There was, in Arne-Sayles’ view, an actual, real disenchantment.’ …/…

Author Susanna Clarke. Photo credits: GEOFF WILKINSON/REX/SHUTTERSTOCK.
Nothing simply vanishes‘.


More about Susanna Clarke:
Susanna Clarke-Piranesi

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