Encyclopedia of Fantasy (1997)
Whittemore, Edward

(1933-1995) US writer who, after Quin's Shanghai Circus (1974), a novel with some fabulistic elements, produced in the Jerusalem QuartetSinai Tapestry (1977), Jerusalem Poker (1978), Nile Shadows (1983) and Jericho Mosaic (1987) – an ambitious though occasionally incoherent Fantasy of History. EW's style is almost damagingly clear, as it sometimes reduces the sense necessary to his project – that layers underlie layers, almost to infinity. As a literary fantasy, the quartet might seem to occupy a space between the Alexandria Quartet by Lawrence Durrell (1912-1990), Thomas Pynchon's V (1963) and The Recognitions (1955) by William Gaddis (1920-1998). In the first volume, three characters begin to shape the century: Strongbow, a Knight of the Doleful Countenance who fails to pass on his legacy of knowledge and power (he more or less owns the Ottoman Empire) to his son, Stern, protagonist in later volumes; Wallenstein, who discovers the true Bible, which disqualifies Western Civilization, and decides to forge the old one to replace it; and Haj Harun, who may be immortal (> Immortality), who is possibly an eternal dupe, or possibly is playing a Godgame with the 20th century, especially in the second volume, which is dominated by a poker game, the winner to gain Jerusalem. As the sequence progresses, clarity fades and jumbles; and the tale ends disconsolately. [JC]

Edward Whittemore

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This entry is taken from the Encyclopedia of Fantasy (1997) edited by John Clute and John Grant. It is provided as a reference and resource for users of the SF Encyclopedia, but apart from possible small corrections has not been updated.