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From: Jim Jordan <jbjordan@gnt.net>
Subject: (urth) Little, Big
Date: Tue, 25 Apr 2000 18:02:31 

Hey, I know this is not the John Crowley discussion site, but I don't know
if there is one.
	Mantis suggested *Little, Big* as important for Wolfe, so I finally read
it. And now I've got a question for those who have also slogged through it.
	Is this just a trivial and clever story, or is it a horror novel and a
cautionary tale?
	Spoilers follow after a suitable gap.

	Taken at face value, this novel seems to be the opposite of *Great Work of
Time.* In that earlier novella, Crowley definitely provides a cautionary
tale. The only valid world is THIS one, warts and all, and if any limited
human being, or group of humans, were able to remake it, they would shrink
and stifle it. Human destiny involves all the mess of THIS world, not
rejecting it, or running from it. *Little, Big* winds us up in the same
kind of world *Great Work of Time* shows as stifling and inhumane, a world
of fairies. But it does so in a "positive" way, on the surface at least. In
*Little, Big* it all just seems so wonderful....
	But if so, then the novel is nothing but a clever plot, working through a
range of fantasy genres with a charming writing style, and winding up with
a "explanation of what has been going on" that is kind of neat and
interesting and all, but rather pointless. Not like real literature at all.
And not like Crowley's other works.
	Yet, if I look at it again, it looks at another level like a horror tale.
I was left horrified, anyway. Thinking back, we have a bunch of kooks who
are enthralled by theosophical nonsense, who want to live in unreality.
Then in a later generation we have a bunch of drug-abusers (Mouse, Daily
Alice, Sophie), who seem to be led further into this labyrinth. The last
generation seems to have lost all moorings. In the final act, the main
characters are losing their memories, and it all becomes a kind of
drug-dream. They become completely two-dimensional, cards in a special
tarot deck. Read this way, it is very much a cautionary tale, and along the
same lines as *Great Work of Time.* 
	It appears that the characters have progressively opened themselves up to
manipulation by forces that have no real love for humanity at all, a point
made here and there. The Christian-Humanist, or at least Christian-Gnostic
elements found in Crowley's earlier works, are left behind as these
generations move farther and farther into fantasy and futility, and lose
their humanity.
	Even this: They keep thinking that the "world within is larger than the
world without." This is presented as something that might well be true. But
in fact, the world within is NOT larger, but far smaller. These people's
lives are shrinking down, and so is their world. It only appears large to
	It all seemed quite horrible to me. I might think, "Well, you're just
reading this as a Christian humanist," but in the light of Crowley's
earlier works, it appears to me that such a reaction is what he designed.
De-humanization seems to be a large theme with him, and no something he
thinks is a good idea in anything else he has written. (Though I've not yet
read any of the AEgypt quartet -- I'd rather wait until it's all done.)
	Thus, while this is not a Crowley discussion list, I thought it might be
good to bring it up here, since Wolfe evidently thinks highly of Crowley's
work and alludes to it. Anyone want to point me to a good analysis of this
book? Anyone want to agree, disagree, or show me what I've missed? The
novel seems extremely trivial to me, unless it is really a cleverly
disguised horror tale.


*More Wolfe info & archive of this list at http://www.urth.net/urth/

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