Sunday, August 26, 2012

Getting Rather Far From Home . . .

Gospel of Osiris?

I recently finished reading my brother Shan's novel, City of Shadows, which ended with these words:
As the sun slowly sank beneath the desolate horizon, the van, the music, and the driver were swallowed by the lumbering beast of darkness, and all was quiet. (page 493)
Nice, poetic ending that leaves one wondering what will become of the protagonist, Bob Gifford . . . but perhaps these final words provide a clue. If we take the metaphor literally, an enormous, lumbering beast of darkness has swallowed Bob and his van! That sounds bad for Bob, but perhaps -- like Hercules within the gullet of the Hydra -- Bob will fight his way back out to face this new nemesis. And what will Bob confront?

To answer this question, we must turn to page 111 of William Norman Guthrie's paraphrase of ancient Egyptian fragments, The Gospel of Osiris, where the protagonist Heru confronts the monster Suti:
But Heru leaped fast in his own manhood on the slimy back of Suti,
The lumbering beast of darkness,
And he chained him limb by limb.
And he gored him with his star-pointed spear.
And goaded him to a frothy speed of madness
That shook the earth in a crazed anguish of fear.
Like Heru, Bob will have a fight on his hands, but I believe our hero will prevail, and I eagerly await Shan's next novel for the epic details.

Moreover, there's a lit-crit lesson to be learned here, namely, always take metaphors literally, and see if they lightly carry you toward an intertextual hermeneutic in a willing suspension of disbelief . . .

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