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