THE CONFUSION: VOL. II OF THE BAROQUE CYCLE. Neal Stephenson.

THE CONFUSION: VOL. II OF THE BAROQUE CYCLE.

New York: William Morrow, [2004]. Octavo, boards. First edition. The second volume in "The Baroque Cycle." "Although couched as historical novels, spanning the emergence of the Enlightenment in Western thought, the books do have fantastical elements. Their central burden seems at first to be a minutely detailed exposition of how a particular strand of thought – the scientific world-view – came to understand and manipulate the world. In that sense, they are about the birth of the world of Cryptonomicon. One character, the possibly Immortal Enoch Root – who may be a Secret Master tasked with monitoring the creation of modernity – appears in both works; the Cycle also features ancestors of Cryptonomicon characters; John Wilkins plays a significant part, and his pioneering book on cryptography is here retitled Cryptonomicon. But these hints that an inner history of the world is unfolding do not survive long into the vastly detailed depiction of eighteenth-century life and thought, where the story of the awakening of men of science from their long slumber – Arthur Koestler's The Sleepwalkers: A History of Man's Changing Vision of the Universe (1964) tells a similar story – is depicted at sometimes alarming length. This exposition may not, however, be the heart of The Baroque Cycle; through the many alarums and excursions of the surface plot, including picaresque pirate adventures and alchemy, the sequence increasingly focuses on a single key to the transformation of the old world into modernity: the scientific and philosophical and mercantile shift from treating the world not in terms of substance but of exchange value: money, as the text makes clear, is no longer gold but currency (see Money). The Baroque Cycle surely has no rival in the density of its description of creation of modern capitalism." - John Clute, Graham Sleight & David Langford, SFE online. A fine copy in a fine dust jacket. (18851). Item #18851

Price: $35.00

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