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Harpur, Patrick

Entry updated 12 September 2022. Tagged: Author.

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(1950-    ) UK author in whose first novel, The Serpent's Circle (1985; vt Serpent's Circle 1985), a secret monastic order called The Little Brothers of the Apostles unleashes its old Religion against the Roman Catholic Church; the Little Brothers, a cohort of Secret Masters, do not themselves reappear in Harpur's work, though a sense of arcane empowerment irradiates his presentation of various forms of alchemy. The Rapture (1986) narrows the focus to the fiery spiritual evolution of a troubled child into an adult capable of experiencing and transmitting a Transcendence so extreme it may be deemed supernatural, and which – in language possibly derived from Russell Hoban's Riddley Walker (1980) – is early described as a Singularity boiling "in the blackness. It's in the hole, it's in the littlun." In Mercurius; Or, the Marriage of Heaven & Earth (1990) a country clergyman and a young woman thirty years later, both involved in alchemy and a search for the Philosopher's Stone (see Transmutation), find their quests interacting in a longed-for conjoining or chymical wedding (see John Dee; Johann Valentin Andreae; Frances A Yates) unfolded under the auspices of Mercurius, or Hermes.

The degree to which Harpur's tales are meant as tales of the impossible, or as literal presentations of matters in terms consistent with Fantastika as a whole, is problematized by Daimonic Reality: A Field Guide to the Underworld (1994), a nonfiction study in which experiences of this sort are granted, at the very least, an agnostic understanding. [JC]

Patrick Harpur

born Windsor, Berkshire: 14 July 1950

works (selected)



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