Michael Moorcock: Gloriana

Good God, I hated this book, with an unreasoning, visceral passion. (Had much the same reaction to Nabokov’s Lolita). I made the perhaps-mistake of reading the Moorcock’s afterword first, in which he explains that Andrea Dworkin took him to task for including a graphic rape scene (with a troubling thematic implication) in book she otherwise loved. Moorcock thoughtfully includes a revised, theoretically less offensive version of the chapter as an aside. But the rape occurs in a protracted sequence of emotional and physical brutality, largely directed at women; the superficial alteration of a few paragraphs hardly changed it materially for me.

The prose of Gloriana is frequently gorgeous — it’s rich and evocative and pays homage to its obvious influences without being derivative. The book has many fans, all I must assume, with stomachs made of sterner stuff than mine. But if you start reading it and find yourself disturbed the first time you encounter a female character subjected to non-consensual, sexually-infused terror, my advice? Quit while you’re ahead. It’s not exactly a pervasive theme, but worse lurks in later pages.

Also: considering this is the author for whom I was willing to endure hours of junior/highschool ridicule to be enthralled by the sorecerous adventures of Elric, Hawkmoon, Corum, et al, Gloriana is really kinda slow-moving, and very sparing of actual fantastic elements.

needs more demons? scale really, really doesn’t apply here. I think Gloriana is very successful at being the novel it is — it’s just fundamentally not to my taste. I’m not even sure I should write about it, except for the theoretical “if your taste is like mine steer clear/if your taste is not like mine jump right in” value.

Published by therealsummervillain

likes: equality, making things easier to use, biking, jangle, distortion, monogamy dislikes: bigotry, policies that jeopardize people, lack of transparency

2 thoughts on “Michael Moorcock: Gloriana

  1. Hm. I always cite this as my favorite Moorcock fantasy novel despite not having read it since I was a teenager. I don’t remember it being *that* nasty, but probably I’ve just repressed it–all I can recall is the cool Peake-y mannered weirdness of it. I should read it again and see how I feel now.

    If you want to give him another chance, Mother London is kinder, gentler Moorcock, and a great book. Not fantasy, though.


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