The Quincunx,The Inheritance of John Huffam

The Quincunx,The Inheritance of John HuffamThe Protagonist, A Young Man Naive Enough To Be Blind To All Clues About His Own Hidden History And To The Fact That His Very Existence Is Troubling To All Manner Of Evildoers Narrates A Story Of Uncommon Beauty Which Not Only Brings Readers Face To Face With Dozens Of Piquantly Drawn Characters At All Levels Of Th Century English Society But Re Creates With Precision The Tempestuous Weather And Gnarly Landscape That Has Been A Motif Of The English Novel Since Wuthering Heights The Suspension Of Disbelief Happens Easily, As The Reader Is Led Through Twisted Family Trees And Plot Lines The Quincunx Of The Title Is A Heraldic Figure Of Five Parts That Appears At Crucial Points Within The Text The Number Five Recurs Throughout The Novel, Which Itself Is Divided Into Five Parts, One For Each Of The Family Galaxies Whose Orbits The Narrator Is Pulled Into Quintuple The Length Of The Ordinary Novel, This Extraordinary Tour De Force Also Has Five Times The Ordinary Allotment Of Adventure, Action And Aplomb

Marcus Palliser.Born in New England he is an American citizen but has lived in the United Kingdom since the age of three He went up to Oxford in 1967 to read English Language and Literature and took a First in June 1970 He was awarded the B Litt in 1975 for a dissertation on Modernist fiction.From 1974 until 1990 Palliser was a Lecturer in the Department of English at the University of Strathclyde in Glasgow He was the first Deputy Editor of The Literary Review when it was founded in 1979 He taught creative writing during the Spring semester of 1986 at Rutgers University in New Jersey In 1990 he gave up his university post to become a full time writer when his first novel, The Quincunx, became an international best seller He has published four novels which have been translated into a dozen languages.Palliser has also written for the theatre, radio, and television His stage play, Week Nothing, toured Scotland in 1980 His 90 minute radio play, The Journal of Simon Owen, was commissioned by the BBC and twice broadcast on Radio 4 in June, 1982 His short TV film, Obsessions Writing, was broadcast by the BBC and published by BBC Publications in 1991 Most recently, his short radio play, Artist with Designs, was broadcast on BBC Radio 3 on 21 February 2004.He teaches occasionally for the Arvon Foundation, the Skyros Institute, London University, the London Metropolitan University, and Middlesex University He was Writer in Residence at Poitiers University in 1997.In 1991 The Quincunx was awarded the Sue Kaufman Prize for First Fiction by the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters which is given for the best first novel published in North America The Unburied was nominated for the 2001 International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award.Since 1990 he has written the Introduction to a Penguin Classics edition of the Sherlock Holmes stories, the Foreword to a new French translation of

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  • Paperback
  • 787 pages
  • The Quincunx,The Inheritance of John Huffam
  • Charles Palliser
  • English
  • 26 December 2018
  • 9780345371133

10 thoughts on “The Quincunx,The Inheritance of John Huffam

  1. says:

    If every other novel was like this it would be terrible I d never leave the house I d call my office sorry, can t make it today, I have 450 pages to finish, I m sure you ll understand, put it down as a family emergency and eventually they d email me you re fired but I wouldn t read the email My cat would have to become feral Empires might tumble, Bob Dylan might be chosen as the next Pope, I wouldn t notice.Anyway, fortunately, most novels aren t either this good or this long, so we can live reasonably normal lives.The Quincunx involves lots of delicious Victorian squalor, detail upon detail of filth and horror, the bilgewaters floweth and the sewers burst forth, there are villains, people have goitres, there are beatings, and I think there s a little donkey in there somewhere.

  2. says:

    Cor blimey guv nor that was a long old read Weightier than a bag of coal and with pages than her majesty s coronation I view my current love of this sort of Victorian era homage with the highest amusement for, despite having recently read and enjoyed The Crimson Petal and the White and Jonathan Strange Mr Norrell and now The Quincunx, I am yet to read the books which these so lovingly ape Not a dash of Dickens or a jot of James has passed my eyeballs.And frankly, after over 1000 pages of novel written in the tiniest of fonts I think my eyeballs need a damn good rest This is a good book for those of you out there who want complexity, density and longevity in a read Oh yes, you should buy a large bag and get used to toting this around for at least a month perhaps even longer My bag carrying arm is now weirdly over developed as a result of the additional weight For those of you who might wish to kick to death the author who spins out a yarn so long that it makes War and Peace look like a comic strip, well this is not the book for you I first learned the term Quincunx watching Supernatural which is proof that beneath the superficiality of watching it for the moistened pout of Jenson Ackles, I am also inadvertantly being educated at the same time.Five families the Huffams, Palphrimonds, Mompessons, Maliphants and the scheming Clothiers form the Quincunx or 5 spot pattern which is the key to this long running mystery as one precocious young man inherits a document and strives to piece together his family history and regain his birth right while surviving on the streets of London in an increasingly destitute state Urchins, orphans, evil villains swooping by in horse drawn carriages, Work houses, prostitution, insanity and villainy are all present and illuminated by gas light and Lucifers in this condensing of all the things Victorian so condensed that this is the Campbell s soup of Victoriana In summary, a battle of wills over a will, if you will.

  3. says:

    a mysterious and elaborate narrative done in the classic Dickens style stays true to the form, particularly in its almost monomaniacal obsession with money and property the extensive research is obvious and helps to make the era vivid and completely real characterizations were surprisingly flat for such an immense tome and unfortunately, that includes not only the intriguing supporting cast but the primary characters of son and mother i also have to say that i was let down by the curiously drab ending the various activities by the incredibly large number of villains made me long for justice, revenge, just anything, really wish fulfillment should never be the goal of any reader but it s hard to avoid wishing for some kind of payback if the catastrophes that befall sympathetic characters are so deviously engineered yet so banally evil and there certainly was no wish fulfillment in this novel sigh all that said, and drab ending aside, this is a rich and nourishing novel i read the last third all through one long night and into the next day sorry, work, i was sick that day.

  4. says:

    When I was a kid, I fell in love with these great big, old, aromatic tomes called classics J.F Cooper was an early favorite And of course, Charles Dickens was not far behind I had no friends whatsoever who seemed to be able to enjoy sitting down with a slow, fascinating read like Barnaby Rudge or David Copperfield or The Last of the Mohicans But that didn t stop me from reading and books like them.Fast forward to my early twenties I was at a bookstore, and found this beautiful artwork on the dust jacket of this very thick book by an author I had never heard of Charles Palliser The name of the book was just as beautiful as the artwork, and just as intriguing The Quincunx Paging through it, I decided it must be an old classic I had never previously seen Yet when I looked at the copyright, I saw it was a modern novel It was on the discount rack, and I decided I give it a try for a few bucks.What a fortunate day that was.Some books can be read without the slightest investment of your senses Like reading through the window pane of a bookstore You see the words, you enjoy the story, but you never get through the glass Other books will draw you in a few feet You dip into them, satisfied to taste a familiar treat, or smell an exotic location You step away from the book and those little impressions stick with you for the rest of the afternoon But there are rare occasions when something else entirely happens.Opening the Quincunx was magical, and I could feel immediately that I had not only stepped into the book, but I pushed along far enough so that I could not see the opening of the book, and the room in which I was reading it No matter that I put the book down to eat supper, or laid it aside to sleep I never really got out of that book Even now, twenty years after the fact, I can still put myself back in that world It has a flavor all its own The people there still brush by me in three dimensional form And the drama that unfolds within those pages will always keep me spellbound.The book is full of characters that just never leave you The story, like a Dickens book, is complex, mysterious, and full of adventure There is a bitter sweet romance, and villains, and everything you d expect to find in Victorian London There are country villages, graveyards, mansions, and yes, even an asylum for the insane I ve no reason to go into the plot here If you want, you can read the book s summary Or read other reviews that go into the story But this is one of the books for me that transcends its story Is it a good story One of the best But that s not the point The point is that if what I have described thus far fills you with visions of curling up with a book in your favorite reading corner while you shut out the world, this is the book for you If it doesn t, we may not have too much in common This is, after all, what I think reading is all about the chance to climb into a book that is full of its own unique, yet familiar world, inhabited by startling characters who are caught up in a drama that leaves you full of wonder and despair and awe.Ever since I ve read this book, I have felt that something is wrong with a world where Charles Palliser is not only not regarded as a literary god, but most avid readers have never heard of him What a shame that this is true.I ve read this twice After the first time, I nearly forced my wife to read it, and though she is not a fan of fiction she s a poet , she loved it It is time for me to read this again Maybe this winter, when I can sit under a blanket on the couch with the wind howling outside and a cup of coffee to keep me company.

  5. says:

    There is a line about two thirds of the way through The Quincunx that struck me as the perfect overarching summary and a central theme of the book The narrator and main character writes, So even here when I thought I had reached the very bottom, I found that there was nothing firm beneath my feet I ll refer to this line again as I go through my evaluation of it The Quincunx is a compelling book published in 1989 and written by Charles Palliser that eloquently channels Charles Dickens The writing is a pitch perfect homage yet one that also reveals a far brutal critique of Victorian England than Dickens ever portrayed.John tells us the story of his childhood into adulthood, and the tragic events that follow him throughout his life In the beginning, he is living with his mother and two servants in a house in a small town far from London His mother has a mysterious history, and she refuses to tell him much about it His father is missing or dead, and they live off of an income sent to them by a benefactor in London, a close friend of his family We soon learn that his mother has some secret legal document that could lead them to great wealth or could lead to great danger, depending on what happens to the document His mother occasionally references enemies who might pursue them if they are not careful and keep to themselves.The death of their benefactor begins a downward slide for John and his mother that continues nearly to the end of the novel John has the most horrible and horrifying events occur, and he barely manages to survive Each time he does, you think this may begin his ascent, but instead he falls deeper and deeper We experience through John the deepest dregs of poverty and what it means in Victorian England You think Oliver Twist had it bad You ll see he got off lightly when you read The Quincunx. So even here when I thought I had reached the very bottom, I found that there was nothing firm beneath my feet There an obvious class critique inherent within The Quincunx Palliser is critiquing how the economic system is rigged against the lower classes as well as how the wealthy manipulate the system to their advantage But beyond these worthy messages, Palliser also points out that for both the poor and the wealthy, the system drives them to pure selfishness and untrustworthiness It s as though Palliser has predicted the primal nature of Trump Trump is larger than himself, he is the core of Capitalism His nature pure selfish greed and falsehood drives human nature we must compete and succeed or we die Social Darwinism is at the core of Capitalism and human civilization Palliser lays bare the cruelty of this construct, and how it makes it extremely difficult to essentially be a generous, honest person who does valuable work that actually contributes to society It s possible, yet not only rare but also counterproductive When John attempts to be noble, his actions at many of those times leave the reader incredibly frustrated As if he is posing at doing the right thing when it puts his very life at risk He struck me as unbearably na ve, as na ve as his own mother turned out to be It seems that Palliser is positioning not goodness as the opposite of greed but rather naivete He clearly does not support this world of cruel selfishness as Ayn Rand does with her ideology of self reliance and selfishness He s not endorsing it But he s saying that power hungry greed as exhibited by our President, by Putin, by the dictators of Saudi Arabia, by the CEOs of the oil companies who deny global warming, by the mafia, by all whose who advance themselves at the expense of others are the very natural outcome of the system in which society is founded Gordon Gekko said it simply, Greed is good Now, if social critique were the only implication of The Quincunx then that would have been enough to tell a great story in the mode of Dickens, but Palliser takes us further, to a much modern place Post modern, that is It turns out by the time we get to the very end of the book, that not only was our narrator rather fluid in his personality, his morals and commitments, but even who he is is never quite resolved Palliser introduces a great deal of ambiguity in the resolution, and the reader cannot feel confident that the greatest mysteries of the book were actually resolved Identity, meaning, and fictional resolution are both social and narrative constructions So even here when I thought I had reached the very bottom, I found that there was nothing firm beneath my feet I can see how some readers might find the resolution disappointing or frustrating, but even so, I think after all we had been through it felt appropriate It would have been too neat to tie everything up in a bow In a sense the pursuit of Equity or Justice, which comes up repeatedly throughout the story is never ending And so is the pursuit of meaning.Highly recommended.

  6. says:

    What if Charles Dickens were a postmodernist writer Would he have been capable to write The Quincunx The stylization is perfect Loomed at us from the shadows like a theatrical show the drawn faces of the very poor, the laughing faces of those in funds or already drunk, but always, in one form or another, misery and fear and shame and desperation, whether clothed in rags or in tawdry finery, and everywhere a profligacy of children children of all ages, children in tatters, dirty, with unkempt hair, their chests pinched inwards and their legs bowed, and with running sores on their faces or on their limbs that were visible through their rags children running, fighting, stealing, swarming in the kennels Beginning with the early childhood Charles Palliser keeps pitilessly driving his hero into the darkest of all the corners I understood what I had to do, though my conscience and my stomach alike revolted against it Perhaps it was fortunate that I had little time to reflect beyond the conviction that if I failed to seize this chance, I would die because I needed to act while the candle still burned And so I began with excessive haste to try to raise the body and lift it over the side of the coffin After some minutes of struggling I realized that my panic stricken actions were achieving nothing except further to exhaust me I forced myself to pause until my thumping heart had quietened and I had considered my next step rationally And then, in the end, the author, like some Deus ex machina, abruptly jerks his protagonist out of his bottomless misery But in the process of stumbling through the mazes and labyrinths of misfortune and escaping from the meanest rattraps the hero turns sophisticatedly cynical God saves those who save themselves The Quincunx is a mystery novel with just a little postmodern twist in it the reader must find the solution to the mystery on one s own.

  7. says:

    At first I thought this was an imitation of a Victorian novel, then a complete recreation of every Victorian novel, and finally I decided it was a parody of and commentary on the Victorian novel It had every Victorian trope imaginable the lost inheritance, the fatherless hero, the consumptive beauty, the abandoned manor, the mysterious break in, the lost birth certificate, the evil money hungry miser, the intolerable boys school, the nightmarish insane asylum, the missing will, the charming crook, the grave robber, the poor starving governess, the vermin ridden slums, and so on and so on, all packed into one frustrating yet compelling plot At the climax comes the obligatory wedding, only it doesn t play out the way Dickens versions did It s absorbing, despite the occasional and annoyingly heavy handed Victorianisms when you can practically hear the ominous music in the background which you have to forgive, because they re actually part of the whole parody send up Upshot a fun read and lit class rolled into one.

  8. says:

    A tatty old copy of this book arrived in the mail today April 8, 2011.It has particular significance to me, because I first read about it in a newspaper review of another book if you like The Quincunx, you will like this other book.I had never heard of this unusual word or the book, and promptly googled it.I found Paul Bryant s GR review of it, and thus began a lifelong obsession with GR and Paul Bryant.

  9. says:

    Take Dickens, multiply the filth, poverty and desperation by five multiply the cast of characters by five multiply the number of plot twists, betrayals, double triple quadruple and quintuple crosses by five and multiply the multiple identities by five Add a speculative real estate scheme, a couple of phony front companies, a banking and credit crisis, a raft of lawyers, lenders, borrowers, beggars and stealers and then run the whole thing through a sieve of the major moral, political, social, and economic philosophies of the last couple of thousand years exploring the big questions, ethical dilemmas, and theories of distributive justice, e.g When do the ends justify the means Is life random or by design Are human beings capable of altruism or motivated solely by self interest When is stealing and lying acceptable What creates the greatest good trickle down economics or a welfare state Is money the root of all evil Throw in opium addiction, prostitution, money laundering, grave robbing, duels, murders and mayhem plunk it down in extremely well researched early 19thC London, divide it up into five books representing five families, and spin it all around a will, a codicil to a will, another will, and an heir a young boy, John, who doesn t know who his father is and whose life, quite literally, depends on his ability to figure it all out and you have The Quincunx.

  10. says:

    This is one of my favorite books ever I read it a few years ago, then loaned it to a friend who returned it I forgot she even had it so after hearing her rave about it, I decided I had to re read it, I loved it even the 2nd time If you like Dickens other Victorian novels, you ll love it It s a novel that takes you completely out of yourself into early 1800s England It s the story of young John, who may or may not be the lost heir to a great estate His story involves murder, insanity, incest, a tree full of relatives all fighting over the estate He s kept safely hidden in the country by his mother until he s about 10 his age is never actually revealed The two are betrayed discovered, over the next 700 or so pages, John tries to outrun, outlast outwit his wealthy murderous relations In the process he slowly learns the family history, meets a beautiful mysterious girl, finds out who his true friends are, learns a lot of very convoluted English inheritance estate law He also begins to develop a philosophy about the price meaning of wealth, starts to see how challenging it is to stick to his principles The first time I read it, I actually kept notes as I went along, developed lots of bizarre theories about some of the central mysteries of the book On second reading, it seemed much clearer to me but there are still some ambiguities left at the end, that the reader gets to speculate about Oooooh, I wonder if Palliser will ever write a sequel to this It s certainly worthy of one A fascinating journey into another time place you won t want it to end

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