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John Cowper Powys

Geburtstag: 8. Oktober 1872
Todesdatum: 17. Juni 1963

John Cowper Powys [dʒɒn ˌkuːpɚ ˈpoʊɪs] war ein walisischer Dichter und Schriftsteller. Er verfasste Lyrik, Essays, umfangreiche Romane sowie philosophische Schriften. Zwischen 1915 und 1957 veröffentlichte er beinahe jedes Jahr eines seiner umfangreichen Bücher. Er gab sich in seinen Werken als ironischer Skeptiker, der selbst die eigene Weltanschauung immer wieder in Frage stellt. Powys war bekennender Polytheist und zugleich überzeugter Agnostiker auf der Suche nach poetischem und nicht spirituellem Sinn. Elke Heinemann nennt ihn einen „englische[n] Dostojewski“ und das „unbekannteste Genie des 20. Jahrhunderts“.

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„Wenn ich mich des Lebens, so dachte er, nicht mit absolut kindlichem Versinken in seine einfachsten Elemente freuen kann, wäre es ebensogut, wenn ich nicht geboren wäre.“ Wolf Solent, 1929, aus dem Englischen übersetzt von Richard Hoffmann, Rowohlt Verlag, Reinbek bei Hamburg 1994, ISBN 3-499-40091 X, S. 693

„Die ganze astronomische Welt ist nur ein Phantom, verglichen mit den Kreisen in Kreisen, den Träumen in Träumen der unbekannten Realität.“ Wolf Solent, 1929, aus dem Englischen übersetzt von Richard Hoffmann, Rowohlt Verlag, Reinbek bei Hamburg 1994, ISBN 3-499-40091 X, S. 686


„Die ergreifenden Szenen in fast jedermanns Leben sind meist solche, die von niemand bemerkt und von der fraglichen Person völlig außer acht gelassen werden.“ A Glastonbury Romance, London 1933, Carl Hanser Verlag München, Wien für Zweitausendeins, 1995, aus dem Englischen von Klaus Pemsel, ISBN 3-86150-258-5, S. 925

„Tod und Liebe! In diesen beiden allein lag die letzte Würde des Lebens.“ Wolf Solent, 1929, aus dem Englischen übersetzt von Richard Hoffmann, Rowohlt Verlag, Reinbek bei Hamburg 1994, ISBN 3-499-40091 X, S. 684

„One needs no strange spiritual faith to worship the earth.“

„To read great books does not mean one becomes ‘bookish’; it means that something of the terrible insight of Dostoyevsky, of the richly-charged imagination of Shakespeare, of the luminous wisdom of Goethe, actually passes into the personality of the reader; so that in contact with the chaos of ordinary life certain free and flowing outlines emerge, like the forms of some classic picture, endowing both people and things with a grandeur beyond what is visible to the superficial glance.“

„It is strange how few people make more than a casual cult of enjoying Nature. And yet the earth is actually and literally the mother of us all. One needs no strange spiritual faith to worship the earth.“ A Glastonbury Romance

„though books, as Milton says, may be the embalming of mighty spirits, they are also the resurrection of rebellious, reactionary, fantastical, and wicked spirits! in books dwell all the demons and all the angels of the human mind. it is for this reason that a a bookshop -- especially a second-hand bookshop / antiquarian - is an arsenal of explosives, an armory of revolutions, an opium den of reaction.

and just because books are the repository of all the redemptions and damnations, all the sanities and insanities, of the divine anarchy of the soul, they are still, as they have alwasys been, an object of suspicion to every kind of ruling authority. in a second-hand bookshop are the horns of the altar where all the outlawed thoughts of humanity can take refuge! here, like depserate bandits, hide all the reckless progeny of our wild, dark, self-lacerating hearts. a bookshop is powder-magazine, a dynamite-shed, a drugstore of poisons, a bar of intoxicants, a den of opiates, an island of sirens.

of all the 'houses of ill fame' which a tyrant, a bureaucrat, a propagandist, a moralist, a champion of law and order, an advocate of keeping people ignorant for their own good, hurries past with averted eyes or threatens with this minions, a bookshop is the most flagrant.

~ autobiography“


„There occurred within a causal radius of Brandon Station one of those infinitesimal ripples in the creative silence of the First Cause. In the soul of the great blazing sun there were complicated superhuman vibrations [connected]... with the feelings of a few intellectual sages who had enough imagination to recognise the conscious personality of this fiery orb as it flung far and wide its life-giving magnetic forces. Roaring, cresting, heaving, gathering, mounting, advancing, receding, the enormous fire-thoughts of this huge luminary surged relentlessly to and fro, evoking a turbulent aura of psychic activity.“ A Glastonbury Romance

„What would ever become of Tilly-Valley's religion in that world, with headlights flashing along cemented highways, and all existence dominated by electricity? What would become of old women reading by candlelight? What would become of his own life-illusion, his secret 'mythology,' in such a world?“ Wolf Solent

„It always gave Wolf a peculiar thrill thus to tighten his grip upon his stick, thus to wrap himself more closely in his faded overcoat. Objects of this kind played a queer part in his secret life-illusion. His stick was like a plough-handle, a ship's runner, a gun, a spade, a sword, a spear. His threadbare overcoat was like a medieval jerkin, like a monk's habit, like a classic toga! It gave him a primeval delight merely to move one foot in front of the other, merely to prod the ground with his stick, merely to feel the flapping of his coat about his knees, when this mood predominated. It always associated itself with his consciousness of the historic continuity---so incredibly charged with marvels of dreamy fancy---of human beings moving to and fro across the earth. It associated itself, too, with his deep, obstinate quarrel with modern inventions, with modern machinery....“ Wolf Solent

„It is by a process of simplification carried constantly further and further that happiness is won.“ A Philosophy of Solitude


„The first discovery of Dostoievsky is, for a spiritual adventurer, such a shock as is not likely to occur again. One is staggered, bewildered, insulted. It is like a hit in the face, at the end of a dark passage; a hit in the face, followed by the fumbling of strange hands at one's throat. Everything that has been forbidden, by discretion, by caution, by self-respect, by atavistic inhibition, seems suddenly to leap up out of the darkness and seize upon one with fierce, indescribable caresses.

  All that one has felt, but has not dared to think; all that one has thought, but has not dared to say; all the terrible whispers from the unspeakable margins; all the horrible wreckage and silt from the unsounded depths, float in upon us and overpower us.

There is so much that the other writers, even the realists among them, cannot, will not, say. There is so much that the normal self-preservative instincts in ourselves do not want said. But this Russian has no mercy. Such exposures humiliate and disgrace? What matter? It is well that we should be so laid bare. Such revelations provoke and embarrass? What matter? We require embarrassment. The quicksilver of human consciousness must have no closed chinks, no blind alleys. It must be compelled to reform its microcosmic reflections, even down there, where it has to be driven by force. It is extraordinary how superficial even the great writers are; how lacking in the Mole's claws, in the Woodpecker's beak! They seem labouring beneath some pathetic vow, exacted by the Demons of our Fate, under terrible threats, only to reveal what will serve their purpose! This applies as much to the Realists, with their traditional animal chemistry, as to the Idealists, with their traditional ethical dynamics. It applies, above all, to the interpreters of Sex, who, in their conventional grossness, as well as in their conventional discretion, bury such Ostrich heads in the sand!“
Visions and Revisions; A Book of Literary Devotions

„Life is short and the number of books is appalling.“

„Back therefore we find ourselves returning. Back to the wisdom of the plough; back to the wisdom of those who follow the sea. It is all a matter of the wheel coming full-circle. For the sophisticated system of mental reactions to which we finally give our adherence is only the intellectualised reproduction of what more happily constituted natures, without knowing what they possess, possess. Thus between true philosophers and the true simple people there is a magnetic understanding; whereas, the clever ones whose bastard culture only divorces them from the wisdom of the earth remain pilloried and paralysed on the prongs of their own conceit".“ The Art Of Forgetting The Unpleasant

„Having once aroused in our mind enough faith in our own will-power to create a universe of contemplation and forget everything else, there are few limitations to the happiness we may enjoy.“ A Philosophy of Solitude

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