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This review is taken from PN Review 20, Volume 7 Number 6, July - August 1981.

YELLOW-COMPLEXIONED Harold Bloom, The Flight to Lucifer (Faber) £4.95

'Hulking, hunched over, yellow-complexioned' Olam is an Aeon. Like the mysterious radio message which customarily triggers off television space adventure, Olam has descended through a series of Black Holes to earth to take Seth Valentinus and his friend, Thomas Perscors, on a journey to Lucifer, there to rediscover the Gnostic truth. Seth and Thomas are the very stuff small screen heroes are wrought of. Seth 'rarely looked other than grim and puzzled'; Perscors is 'A giant of a man, good-natured but easily provoked to violence.' The key to success is a tower, which has been stolen by baddie, 'Nothing is got for nothing', Saklas. After enduring a series of desultory degradations (delusions of the material world), our heroes eventually regain the tower by outwitting Saklas's mother, Achamoth, possessor of the Gnostic secrets of Sin and Salvation. Reward? Olam and the earthlings find the Pleroma or Fullness.

Point of the story? 'Olam tried to remember when he had last been at the Fullness, but he saw it did not matter.' It is a sentiment I entirely share.

Harold Bloom is Professor of Humanities at Yale. He is interested in the religious sects that flourished alongside the early Christian church. In previous books he has used the doctrine of the Gnostics to illuminate the thought of Shelley, Blake and Yeats. Now, in The Flight to Lucifer, he has attempted to embody it in an adventure story. The attempt is his own affair. But the result, a hybrid ...


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