Aegypt/Daemonomania/Love and Sleep Summary

John Crowley


(Critical Survey of Science Fiction and Fantasy)

Aegypt also published as The Solitudes), Love and Sleep, and Daemonomania are the first three installments of Crowley’s projected four-volume novel (collectively entitled Aegypt) that concerns myth, history, Gnostic religious philosophy, and Renaissance magic. Its governing theme—which is exhaustively explored and restated throughout the text—is that there is more than one history of the world.

Aegypt chronicles Pierce Moffett’s escape to a rural life in the Catskills from his life in New York City and an unsatisfying academic career. Love and Sleep takes the reader forward to the next stage in Pierce’s various types of research, both into historical accounts and into himself, to understand the “time when the world worked differently.” It begins by chronicling Pierce’s personal history as a boy growing up in the Cumberland Mountains of eastern Tennessee in the early 1950’s. Stories are included about historical figures of the late sixteenth century, including Giordano Bruno, who is credited with discovering the concept of infinity, and the scientist/philosopher/magician Doctor John Dee. Daemonomania follows Pierce, Dee, and Bruno through their respective “passage times,” periods of infinite possibility in which the world moves from what it has been to what it will eventually become.

Aegypt mentions Pierce’s childhood and Doctor Dee’s research with two short prologues. Primarily, however, it narrates the quest begun in Pierce’s thirties. He sets out in the first section to interview for a teaching position at a small college in upstate New York. The bus he has taken breaks down, and he skips the interview to stay with Spofford, a former student who is now a shepherd in the small town of Blackbury Jambs. Pierce decides that he wants to stay, then briefly returns to the city to sell a book proposal to a former girlfriend. He can then settle in Blackbury Jambs to write a popular account of the epistemological break between the medieval and the modern periods, times of religious, magical, and scientific fervor. He meets Spofford’s girlfriend, Rosie, and another woman, Rose, both of whom will help him in his quest. Aegypt focuses on Rosie; her husband Mike, whom she is in the process of divorcing; their small daughter, Sam; and their uncle, Boney Rasmussen. Rosie hires Pierce to work for Boney’s foundation and put in order the papers of a deceased novelist, Fellowes...

(The entire section is 1023 words.)