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The Course of the Heart [Englisch] [Gebundene Ausgabe]

M. John Harrison , David Lloyd

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15. August 2004
A novel which weaves together mythology, sexuality and the troubled past and present of Eastern Europe. It begins on a hot May night, when three Cambridge students carry out a ritualistic act which changes their lives. The author won the 1989 Boardman Tasker Memorial Award for "Climbers".
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The author of "Things That Never Happen" (starred review, "Publishers Weekly") and "Light" (Tiptree Award winner) delivers an extraordinary, genre-bending novel that weaves together mythology, sexuality, and the troubled past and present of Eastern Europe. It begins on a hot May night, when three Cambridge students carry out a ritualistic act that changes their lives. Years later, none of the participants can remember what exactly transpired; but their clouded memories can't rid them of an overwhelming sense of dread. Pam Stuyvesant is an epileptic haunted by strange sensual visions. Her husband Lucas believes that a dwarfish creature is stalking him. Self-styled Sorcerer Yaxley becomes obsessed with a terrifyingly transcendent reality. The seemingly least effected participant in the ritual (who is haunted by the smell of roses) attempts to help his friends escape the torment that has engulfed their lives.

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M. John Harrison (1945 - ) Michael John Harrison is the author of, amongst others, the Viriconium stories, The Centauri Device, Climbers, The Course of the Heart, Signs of Life, Light and Nova Swing. He has won the Boardman Tasker Award (Climbers), the James Tiptree Jr Award (Light) and the Arthur C. Clarke Award (Nova Swing). He lives in Shropshire. -- Dieser Text bezieht sich auf eine andere Ausgabe: Taschenbuch .

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5 von 5 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
3.0 von 5 Sternen The Course of the Heart 5. Juli 2008
Von David Brookes - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
M. John Harrison's novel The Course of the Heart, also featured as one of two of the novels in his compilation Anima, is one of Harrison's attempts to create a sense of magic and energy in a real-world situation.

The characters themselves are well drawn, existing in our world, or a rather dreary approximation of it. They are embroiled in a lopsided love triangle that crumbles, is reinforced, crumbles again, simultaneously drawing the characters together and pushing them apart. The sick and troubled Pamela falls desperately ill; her ex-husband Lucas struggles to reconcile with her, using a mutually-constructed legend to do so, as the first-person protagonist watches on. Frustrated by Lucas' indirect attempt at romantic appeasement and his own scabbed-over feelings for Pamela, he is drawn into the crumbling villages of English Derbyshire, which Harrison seems to have a strong dislike for, describing it perhaps not untruthfully as grey and depressed, mirroring the emotions of the protagonist and the feel of the novel overall.

It's not a wholly depressing novel; there are instances of humour, and the observations of the main character serve as welcome minor distractions from the story, which usually end up as opaque metaphors for the relationships between the three primary characters. A lot of the novel is metaphor, including the magic realism aspects I mentioned earlier. The first section feels like a short story, which in fact it was, in part, in his collection Things That Never Happen, which was itself an amalgam of his two earlier publications The Ice Monkey and Travel Arrangements. This shows through horribly, with a fast-paced, fantasy-feel mystery developing halfway in the first chapter, only to be almost wholly ignored for a hundred pages as Harrison sinks his teeth into the comparatively dull lives of his characters. At the end, the fantastical shared history of the three isn't even revealed, leaving the reader forced to find answers and satisfaction in the snippets of information provided earlier of a Heaven-like place called the "Pleroma", which was apparently punctured during a semi-forgotten magical experiment, leaving mad manifestations to pursue the three through the course of their lives.

This fantasy element is in fact the best aspect of the book, making a fascinating and delightfully mysterious read, but the great opening is let down by the rest of the novel. If only Harrison had devoted more time to the interesting metaphor and not the "real-life" complications of his characters, then the novel would be worth a second read. As it stands, the narrative is truly beautiful, extremely powerful and emotive without resorting to clumsy poetry. To read Harrison is to feel whatever he wants you to feel, but also in this case it means to sadly crave the better aspects of the story while making do with whatever Harrison wanted to concentrate on the time, which often feels like mildly irrelevant side-story.

If you like mainstream fiction with a dash of magic, then this is the perfect novel for you. If you were hoping for a plot revolving around one of those aspects of Harrison's wonderful imagination, like his genre novels, you'll be sadly disappointed. By Viriconium instead.
10 von 13 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
4.0 von 5 Sternen Beautifully written, evocative, intriguing, sad -- a striking novel 10. August 2006
Von Richard R. Horton - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format:Gebundene Ausgabe
_The Course of the Heart_ is a lovely book, but perhaps emblematic of Harrison's relative commercial obscurity. It is, it must be said, not terribly accessible. In the end it is beautiful and moving -- but it's hard to be sure exactly what was going on.

The narrator had apparently completed some mysterious magical act with two other young people during his university years. This act is never revealed (somewhat frustratingly) but it involved contact with another "plane of existence" (my words) called the Pleroma. It wasn't successful, and it seems to have mentally damaged the other two people: Lucas Medlar and Pam Stuyvesant. The narrator has perhaps (or not?) escaped unscathed. Lucas and Pam marry, but can never really settle, and eventually divorce. Pam is an epileptic, always difficult, and eventually gets cancer.

The story winds back and forth in time. The narrator spends some time involved with the sinister older man, Yaxley, who initiated the original magical experiment, and who is trying further experiments, including a vile act involving incest. None of the magic really seems to work, but it all seems to involve contact with incomprehensible things. The narrator also keeps in touch with Pam and Lucas, even after they divorce. His own life is conventional -- an ordinary, fairly successful, job; a sexy wife, a daughter. Things finally come to a head with Pam's cancer, and her decline and death.

Intertwined with all this is a travel narrative cum history of an imaginary Eastern European country. This is supposedly written by one "Michael Ashman", but we soon gather that this is all an invention of Lucas Medlar, with some degree of cooperation from Pam. This country is perhaps called "the Coeur" -- the Heart -- and it seems somehow connected with the Pleroma. It was destroyed by invasion, but in Lucas's conception, the Empress left descendants, who continued to carry some essence of the Coeur, suppressed for the most part. Eventually leading to -- of course -- Pam Stuyvesant. What does all this mean? I am not sure, but it rewards thinking about. I should add that the fictional Michael Ashman spent time in Czechoslovakia just prior to World War II, and patronized a Tarot-telling Gypsy whore, who surely died in a concentration camp -- thus bringing the central 20th century atrocity to the table. I don't at all know what to make of the novel, but it is beautifully written, very evocative, intriguing, erotic, sad -- a striking work.
2 von 2 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
5.0 von 5 Sternen Quite good. (Of course.) 15. April 2008
Von Dick Johnson - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format:Taschenbuch|Verifizierter Kauf
I was reminded of Haruki Murakami many times in reading this. There was that sense of seeing something out the corner of my eye that I couldn't quite make out. Of course, turning my head revealed nothing - but I knew something still lurked out there.

You won't find answers in the story, but you can have fun filling in the gaps yourself. What was that event earlier in their lives? What is the Pleroma? What about the Coeur? And who or what is Yaxley?

I've left the book in view so I can keep working on the puzzle.

If you like your stories neatly tied with a ribbon around them at the end, then stay away from this. If you like story you can play detective with then dig in.
23 von 33 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
5.0 von 5 Sternen Matters of the Heart 25. Januar 2005
Von Claire Macdonald - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format:Gebundene Ausgabe
With the success of his recent novel Light M. John Harrison has become a name. Not quite a household name perhaps, but as well known and widely acceptable as a writer who is still classified as an SF writer ever can be. Yet Harrison is about as far from being an SF writer in the mainstream definition of the genre as Andrei Tarkovsky was from being an SF film director. Instead, Harrison's work animates a tradition that connects writers like Russell Hoban, Alan Garner, J. G. Ballard, Angela Carter, Ben Okri, Jim Crace, Colin Thubron, and, more diversely, the J. M. Coetzee of Waiting for the Barbarians, with writers of the 20th century romantic tradition like Rosamund Lehman, H. E Bates and Elizabeth Taylor - with a touch of Iain Sinclair, Joe Orton and William S. Burroughs thrown in. Like Harrison they are all edgy romantics - William Burroughs most of all - for whom the status of the world that we experience is never given, but is always on the point of radical transformation. For M. John Harrison we imagine our world into being, we think it and we make it and unmake it, it speaks us and we speak it. The Course of the Heart is possibly the clearest example of this philosophy, and the best least-known novel of the 1990s. Elegant, eerie and melancholic, it takes the world we imagine and the world we experience and collides the two. When I first read it - ten years ago or more in one sitting in a London basement on a grey rainy spring day - I wanted to reach out and touch something that had been put in front of my eyes and fingers, just beyond my reach; something whose name I couldn't quite shape, whose voice I couldn't hear, something I wanted, something that has remained there, hovering, ever since. M. John Harrison is one of the great writers of our time. Too contrarian to be feted by the mainstream media for long, he is, like J. G. Ballard, Iain Sinclair and Carol Birch, an antidote to the received view of British life to which we continue to subscribe in contemporary literature. If the Ian McEwan of The Cement Garden had stayed on course he might have been lucky enough to grow up to be M. John Harrison. The Course of the Heart is simply, and lastingly, brilliant.
8 von 12 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
3.0 von 5 Sternen Not bad, but Viriconium fans might be disappointed 11. Februar 2007
Von HJ Louw - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format:Taschenbuch|Verifizierter Kauf
I have always thought of M. John Harrison as a science-fiction/fantasy author, and although I know it isn't fair to label him as such, I still prefer it when he writes in these two genres, since he blurs the lines between them so well. The Course of the Heart also contains a blurring of lines, namely between our own reality and a fantastic otherworld called the Pleroma, which affects the four central characters in the novel. Even though Mr. Harrison's detailed descriptions and excellent characterisation does make the book interesting at times, something about it still did not live up to my expectations. Perhaps it was the constant alternating of the narrative between past and present events that confused me a little during the first half of the novel, or perhaps it was simply the fact that I loved his Viriconium books so much that I end up comparing everything he writes with these personal favorites of mine. This is the first fiction of Harrison's that I have read since Viriconium, and I bought the Course of the Heart after seeing it on China Mieville's list of Top Ten (Mieville being a favorite author of mine). Even so, it was not what I expected, but fans of Harrison's recent fiction ("Things that never happen" and "Light") might enjoy it. However, as a Viriconium fan, I still hope that Harrison will one day produce something that could, at least in my mind, live up to his earlier work.

One thing I should mention though, as one of the things that I particularly liked about this novel, is the incomprehensibility of the Pleroma that Harrison conveys to the reader. It was this feeling of strangeness, of a lurking 'otherness' throughout the novel that kept me reading and allowed me to follow the story through to its surprising conclusion.
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