Monday, January 23, 2017

Fruit of Knowledge

C. L. Moore picks the thread of romance back up with this narrative re-telling of the first chapter of Genesis.  When you want terse prose, you can’t do any better than the bible, and here Moore takes a few short passages and weaves them into a tale of love and betrayal where everybody gets a turn. 

As a child, the story of the Garden of Eden was always one of those tales that felt incomplete to me.  Most bright children ask the obvious questions: “Where did the girl that Cain married come from if Adam and Eve were the first people?” The truly imaginative struggled to put images to the garden beyond a vague, happy place filled with flowering trees and soft, thick grasses.  Here, C. L. Moore takes the unimaginable beauty of paradise and make it imaginable.  Everything from the diffuse light of God’s attention to the chorus of angels, to the sudden and dramatic fall from grace of Adam and Eve gets painted in rich language that helps the reader gain a glimpse of that first chapter of God’s plan for humanity.  And yet, she manages to leave enough unsaid to hint at the greater beauty that lies even beyond the sight of mortal men – men such as the reader.

Her descriptions and characterization of the Serpent in the garden are equally evocative, and while they don’t give the reader a detailed and concrete image of the first fallen angel, they provide enough hints and guides to suggest a terrible dark beauty.

So too with Lillith, who makes for an interesting choice of viewpoint character. As the most knowledgeable of the three members of the very first love triangle, hers in an obvious choice…in retrospect.  And that’s one of the marks of genius.  The mind that can show the world a new idea that anyone could have thought of, but no one did, is looking at the world with a clarity and creativeness that is awesome to behold.

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