Wednesday, December 30, 2020

Here is a good essay about Susanna Clarke's new novel "Piranesi"

(I liked the book a lot. It's a much faster and easier read than Jonathan Strange. And devoid of footnotes.)

From Ewan Wilson's essay, discussing Piranesi, the video game Echo, and other works of art with similar settings: 

In C. S. Lewis’ children’s fantasy novel The Magician’s Nephew, there’s a sequence where the two young protagonists portal through to a ruined world where a cold, dying sun dominates the sky. They find themselves in a grand but crumbling palace where everything is inhumanly proportioned. Like Dark Souls’ Anor Londo, it’s a city built for giants. On this apocalyptic planet, in a city named “Charn,” the children travel through a ceaseless series of courtyards, up massive flights of stairs and through a maze of vast rooms and halls until they’re “dizzy with the mere size of the place.” Everytime the characters feel as though they might be close to an exit, or catch a glimpse of an outside, they simply enter into another, identical-looking courtyard — a perpetual in-between space like in one of Italo Calvino’s “Continuous Cities.”

Eventually the children pass through a set of golden doors and enter into the long “Hall of Images,” where rows of chairs line up on either side. In the centre of the room is a square table with a little bell, which when rung, echoes continuously, rising in pitch until finally the entire palace begins to collapse and the infamous Queen from The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe is awoken.

There are echoes of Charn’s palace in one of this year’s most anticipated novels too.