A Mania of Love
by J N Pratley
Book Masters

"Phantasmagorias. I LOVE that Greek word. Though I've been accused of being a pedant, I insist that erudite words are often very appropriate when they apply to me. The word means literally, an "assembly of fantasies." My fantasies, my phantisma."

Is there a space that reality and fantasy can successfully live together, or will this amalgam eventually breed insanity? J N Pratley grapples with this idea in his latest novel that follows the musings of a professor on sabbatical in Paros, Greece. Very much a classicist in his own right, Clarence's task is to complete a novel about one of the most influential poets in Grecian history, Archilochus. He must find a way to modernize the poet's life, while holding true to the characteristics that made him so influential in the first place. Inspired by his own self-reflection, Clarence creates Archie, the lustful gallivant that has enjoyed the company of many women over the years. Much as Archilochus did with his lover Neobule in the 7th Century BCE, Archie becomes entrapped by one particular muse, with a similarly tragic outcome. As Clarence's life begins to eerily mimic that of Archie and by extension Archilochus, he becomes lost in both the fiction that he is writing and his own love affair, and life begins to imitate art in a dangerous way.

Pratley uses the philosophical roots of ancient Greece to form the backbone of this novel. He skillfully navigates the battle between fantasy and rationality, as well as between God-like adulation and humanity. The author stays true to his Grecian heritage in his third novel and chronicles the main character's travels of the island in the same fashion as his first two novels. Pratley remains a classics aficionado and lover of all things science.

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