Forfatter billede

J. Kent Clark

Forfatter af The King's Agent

4 Works 59 Members 2 Reviews

Om forfatteren

J. Kent Clark is Emeritus Professor of Literature at the California Institute of Technology.

Includes the name: Justus Kent Clark

Værker af J. Kent Clark

Satte nøgleord på

Almen Viden

There is no Common Knowledge data for this author yet. You can help.



This is a straight, narrative biography of a strange character: Goodwin Wharton. The author, J. Kent Clark, offers very little background and absolutely no analysis. If you know a bit about the occult/magickal arts and late Stuart Britain, as I do, it is very interesting.

Goodwin Wharton, younger son of a popular lord, believes in fairies and magick and communication with angels, despite his Puritan-leaning upbringing. Wharton kept a detailed history and journal of his life from the 1683 to 1704, focusing on his attempts to use the occult to get rich and score women. He hooked onto a common woman named Mary Parish who claimed she was magical savant and could communicate with angels.

Parish was the greatest conwoman of her time; Wharton was the greatest dupe of his time. The angels, through her, promised her thing after thing which never came true. She promised him entrance to the fairy kingdom (the Lowlands) which never came to pass. Week-after-week, year-after-year new excuses kept that from happening. She promised him buried treasures. Week-after-week, year-after-year new excuses kept that from happening. She promised him magical amulets that could make him win at card or be invisible. Week-after-week, year-after-year new excuses kept that from happening. She even, it is apparent, impersonated spirits and he bought it and, most shockingly of all, impersonated God and he bought it. Even when God's promises failed again and again, sometimes quite spectacularly failed (e.g., pp. 270-271, God promised Mons would not fall in a siege days after it fell in a siege). Parish made God un-omniscient and un-omnipotent and Goodwin bought it.

It is, time and again, mind-numbing, exasperating, shocking, and angering. To see this guy with some obvious brains fall for the dumbest excuses ever. Like, angels and spirits are filling up trunks of gold for you... but you can't open them till I, I mean the spirits, tell you... and she, I mean the spirits, never tells him.

It's an interesting insight into the times and and interesting, almost historical novel of a story.

It's a pretty good oddity.
… (mere)
tuckerresearch | Feb 25, 2020 |
The King’s Agent is Sir Ralph Barnard, and the king he served was James II/VII of England/Scotland. Now living in Paris after the Glorious Revolution, Queen Anne, and the accession of George I, Sir Ralph is applying to move back to England. The English ambassador, Lord Stair, has asked him to write a report about his activities as an agent. This prompts Sir Ralph to reflect on his life and think about how much could have changed if he had managed to kill James II when he had a chance.

I really enjoyed this historical novel. The structure is a good one: older Ralph reflects on events, then those past events take centre stage. And it is always clear what time period we’re in. The writing is smooth, the research supports the story but doesn’t overwhelm it, and there are enough amusing moments to leaven the overall slightly serious tone. There are a couple of romantic interludes, but Clark manages to imply them and then shut the door and leave the people involved their privacy!

Overall I would certainly recommend this book if you like historical fiction written in the first half of the 20th century (this was published in the 1950s) or are interested in the period of James II/VII.
… (mere)
rabbitprincess | Jan 5, 2019 |



Diagrammer og grafer