Novel features historian as main character

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[John Crowley's ] Endless Things concludes the story of Pierce Moffitt, a teacher and historian who leaves his painfully disordered city life for the pastoral solitude of the Faraway Hills. There, surrounded by friends, lovers and assorted castoffs from the '60s, Pierce embarks on a new, though no less complicated, life and begins writing a book based on a radical new theory of history. This theory posits that, at infrequent intervals, the nature of the world changes in fundamental ways. As one age ends, the world moves through a kind of passage time, settling finally into a new age dominated by new and different laws, laws that unfold retroactively into the past. Thus, a world that is -- and always has been -- governed by physics might give way to a world that is -- and always has been -- governed by magic. There is, Crowley tells us, "more than one history of the world."

This view of history receives some unexpected support when Pierce encounters an unfinished manuscript by the late historical novelist Ffellowes Kraft. Kraft's novel describes an alternate 16th century on the brink of its own passage time. At the center of the tale are a pair of actual historical figures: John Dee, the Elizabethan scholar/alchemist who spent much of his life attempting to communicate with angels, and Giordano Bruno, the Dominican monk who first conceived the idea of an infinite universe and whose "heresies" led to his death at the stake in 1600. Dee, Bruno and Pierce have one thing in common: They are all seekers after Meaning, and their intertwined stories reflect and illuminate each other in countless large and small ways.
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