A Rosicrucian tale by Edward Bulwer-Lytton

At a glance, Zanoni is a novel about a member of an ancient fraternity who gives up his power of immortality for love of a human.

Plot is of course available on Wikipedia. The flowery prose some reviewers say Zanoni is filled with does not bother me perhaps because reading it is different from listening to it which I did on LibriVox. There are excellent commentaries and reviews on goodreads. They are usefully enlightening for first time readers like me.  I first noticed this book from a list of David Bowie’s Top 100 Books. One connection I see as to why the book was among Bowie’s Top 100 is music. Viola, with whom Zanoni (main character) fell in love, is a promising opera singer and daughter of a misunderstood violinist.

Aisling ~ Pierre-Cécile Puvis de Chavannes

Bowie may have been attracted to the idea of immortality.  “I feel puny as a human. … I want to be ‘superhuman.'”  Emphasis on superhuman. Zanoni is immortal.

Zanoni is said to be inspired by a dream.  This one refers to my choice of this book on Aisling Tales.

More reads or skimming if you will –

i     Musings on Zanoni… as source of theosophical beliefs
ii    Rosy Cross
iii   Pleasing sort of terror
iv   Divine madness

Notes to remember Zanoni by –

v     The spiritual and the occult are not the same.
vi    It’s “a truth for those who can comprehend it, and an extravagance for those who cannot.”
vii   The fourth part of the book, “The Dweller of the Threshold” contains esoteric facts and experiences.
viii  The French Revolution is which the book is set represents the nadir of humanity which affects even Zanoni.
ix    Zanoni makes few concessions to realism, an ideal Bulwer-Lytton had contempt for.

Zanoni –

x    is a pioneering book on esoteric writing
xi   describes occult as the kind that searches for wisdom
xii   approaches the ‘divine without the fetters of religion’
xiii  is a book for those interested in early British occultism

ABC Wednesday  /  Thursday Thirteen

10 thoughts on “Zanoni

    1. Dear Novroz, we have two things in common: being moms and being teachers. So I see we can be very busy. Where could that leave us with time to read something like Zanoni? May I suggest the audio version of the book. That way you can get to know the boook while doing other things. There’s hope with regards to experiencing the book. 🙂

  1. I read lots of metaphysical books years ago, along with science fiction. Today I mostly read memoirs of artists, writers and musicians. I could see Bowie, or some of his characters, liking that book, an age old story. At least it wasn’t vampires.

  2. It’s an amazing list. Very entertaining and informative. Also, I think it’s just so cool that you used roman numerals for this. I’d do a thumbs up if this were the iPad. ♥♥♥! Those will have to suffice. ;o)

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