The Abyss



“The Abyss is a 1968 novel by the Belgian-French writer Marguerite Yourcenar. Its narrative centers on the life and death of Zeno, a physician, philosopher, scientist and alchemist born in Bruges during the Renaissance era. The book was published in France in 1968 and was met with immediate popular interest as well as critical acclaim, obtaining the Prix Femina with unanimous votes the year of its publication.” Wikipedia

“Marguerite Yourcenar instantly assumes command of our imagination in her novel The Abyss. Almost before we know it, the author establishes a scene (a road in northern France) and time (the second quarter of the sixteenth century), and engages us in the fate of two cousins. The younger, sixteen-year-old Henry Maximilian, has set out to become a soldier and poet; the elder, twenty-two-year-old Zeno, has left a seminary to make himself an alchemist-philosopher. The book reads as if an old map–decorated with walled cities, boats on rivers, castles, people, and animals–had come alive . . . As rich as a tapestry.” The New Yorker


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