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Sarastro’s Cave: Letters from the Recent Past

By author: Richard Velkley
Product Code: HH1002
ISBN: 9780881467802
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"I hoped to use these letters to make a book, in which they would retain their character as individual utterances, although they would become parts of a larger whole." So writes Clovis Mendling, professor of history at a Southern university, bequeathing his letters as an unfinished project to a friend shortly before he mysteriously disappears. Much is at stake in these letters for Mendling, as they reflect on a personal crisis in which he discovers philosophical, political, musical, and literary significance. By making an epistolary novel out of his letters he hopes to prove to himself that he is truly a living human and not a mechanical simulation. At the same time, his moral and intellectual world unravels as he questions the tenets of Enlightenment thought, especially Freemasonry, his scholarly focus. Through these accounts of his travels in China and Europe, a balletic inspiration in the classroom, a spectral vision on the streets of New Orleans, and insights drawn from opera, drama, and film, the reader learns how Mendling overcomes the quandary of whether he is human, but finally succumbs to a deeper challenge to his ordered existence: the pull of eros. Although moved by the music of Mozart's Sarastro, teacher of self-mastery and inner harmony through love, a bewitched and confused Mendling plunges into the mind's netherworld.
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