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Figures of Earth

James Branch Cabell

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Book Excerpt: 
. . .I was not afraid of the terrors which beset me on my way to rescue the Count's daughter, but of the Count's daughter herself I am horribly afraid. Not for worlds would I be left alone with her. No, such fine and terrific ladies are not for swineherds, and it is another sort of wife that I desire."

"Whom then do you desire for a wife," says Niafer, "if not the loveliest and the wealthiest lady in all Rathgor and Lower Targamon?"

"Why, I desire the cleverest and dearest and most wonderful creature in all the world," says Manuel,—"whom I recollect seeing some six weeks ago when I was in the kitchen at Arnaye."

"Ah, ah! it might be arranged, then. But who is this marvelous woman?"

Manuel said, "You are that woman, Niafer."

Niafer replied nothing, but Niafer smiled. Niafer raised one shoulder a little, rubbing it against Manuel's broad chest, but Niafer still kept silence. So the two young people regarded each other for a while, not. . . Read More

Community Reviews

There are people on this site - sane and sensible people who know how to juggle with words and such - who have written screeds about James Branch Cabell. They have written actual, proper, honest-to-god, impassioned and informative reviews (and this is not one, this is just showing off); so I feel a

Though "Jurgen" is James Branch Cabell's most famous work, it is "Figures of Earth" that is the center of Cabell's literary universe. From this groundbreaking fantasy comes the character of Dom Manuel, from whom all of Cabell's most important characters are related.

But Manuel is more than just Cabe

"But I cannot put aside the thought that I, who for the while exist in this mortgaged body, cannot ever get out to you. Freydis, there is no way in which two persons may meet in this world of men: we can but exchange, from afar, despairing friendly signals, in the sure knowledge they will be misinte

Mundus vult decipi - the world wants to be deceived - and the happier man is one whose desires remain unfulfilled inform all of Cabell's writing. As the chroniclers write of Poictesme's redemption:

"For although this was a very heroic war, with a parade of every sort of high moral principle, and

Published in 1921. Delightfully cynical and cynically delightful, and wickedly ironic. It's about the great heroic figure Manuel the Redeemer of the mythical land of Poictesme, and the very unheroic truth about him. Very funny.

Figures of Earth is the story of Dom Manuel, the first count of Poictesme: how he rises from his lowly position as swineherd to being the most fortunate man in the land, how he redeems his beloved Niafer from death, and how he became the inspiration for legend and myth down through the ages. As such

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