ON LATIN AMERICAN & WORLD LITERATURE: A DIALOGUE FROM SPIRITUS MUNDI

ON LATIN AMERICAN & WORLD LITERATURE: A DIALOGUE FROM SPIRITUS MUNDI

NOTE: The following is a Dialogue on Latin American & World Literature taken as an excerpt from the novel Spiritus Mundi by Robert Sheppard set in Mexico City in which several literary friends, including Professor and Mexican author Carlos Rivera, Nobel Laureate Günter Gross and his friend and United Nations Parliamentary Assembly activist Robert Sartorius discuss Latin American Literature’s contribution to World Literature. Spiritus Mundi is available in full online at Smashwords at: Book I  https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/303856 ; and Book II:  https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/303798

 

Spiritus Mundi Book Cover.80.3

 

ON LATIN AMERICAN & WORLD LITERATURE: A DIALOGUE FROM SPIRITUS MUNDI

Towards late afternoon they paused to take a fine lunch at the best VIP dining room of the faculty dining hall of the University, taking in local specialties and many a bottle of fine wine, after which they settled in in the faculty lounge to a generous open bar of tequila, rum, mescal, kaluah, a taste of pulque—a local peasant drink, brandy, and of course a box of Cuban cigars of the highest quality. After a rambling conversation the topic of the hour turned to literature, as Sartorius mentioned that he had noticed and bought a copy in translation of one of Rivera’s novels, then popular on the stands: “The Three Shadows.” He asked Rivera to autograph the flyleaf, and the good professor made a gentlemanly show of modesty in assenting, but on condition that Günter would reciprocate by signing his copy of his Collected Poems, which he had in a bi-lingual edition, German and Spanish.

“To tell you the truth Günter, I have to confess to you that I suffer from the congenital writer’s disease: envy. While I have had some success with my novels, which flatters my ego, I have never approached your fluency in poetry.” He admitted with a tone of abashment, “………I would love to hear how you do it, I mean how you work yourself up to the creation of your poems.”

In fact, Günter was known mainly for his prose novels. Only late in life did the literary world awaken to his poetry, and amoung professionals and literary connoisseurs in his old age he was making a second reputation for himself, and turning out his best work. To the world’s great surprise, it was Romantic, incantatory, bardic, and, though far from primitive, primitivistic. Rhapsodic and mystical, he seemed to release into his poetry a raw energy too often damned up in his more “civilized” prose. He regarded his poetry as “a plunge into darkness,” a wrestling with the “exquisite chaos” of the contending angels of the life-force.

Günter at first made a few modest evasions of the request, then after he downed another tequila and inscribed a few sentences on the flyleaf of the book which Rivera’s assistant had retrieved from his office, he then made an attempt at describing his poetic process:           “Well if you force me to it………but you know as a writer you can never really put into words what is beyond words……….…..I let, perhaps, an image be made emotionally in me, and then apply to it whatever intellectual and critical forces I possess——–let it breed another, let that image contradict the first, make, of that third image bred of the other two together, a fourth contradictory image, and let them all, within my imposed formal limits, conflict……Out of the inevitable conflict of images—–inevitable because of the creative, recreative, destructive and contradictory nature of the motivating center, the womb of war——-I try to make that momentary peace which is a poem…………………”

Then, after a fair pause to consider what he had said, to start up again the momentum of the conversation, Sartorius mentioned that he and Günter Gross were working on a joint book exploring a canon of World Literature, and they asked for Rivera’s advice—-what would be the special characteristics of Latin American literature and who would Rivera consider to be the foremost figures and works of Latin American literature which had made a global impact, transcending their national and regional origins, such as to merit their inclusion in the canon of World Literature from a global perspective?

“Well, as far as Latin American literature is concerned,” Professor Rivera responded, “our writers have always been a hybrid and cosmopolitan lot—-on the one hand we are part of the Western world and draw our heritage, like all Western writers from the legacy of Classical Greece and the Latin masters of Rome, the Biblical and Christian heritage, and the heritage in particular of Spanish and Portuguese literature, of Cervantes and Camoes; the classical joke of ‘Modernismo” being that Latin American literature has evolved beyond its national and colonial origins to embrace a true regional culture, and that the cultural capital of this “Latin America” is Paris!—-Ha!—-the place where almost every Latin American writer, artist, thinker or revolutionary would make pilgrimage to take part in the currents of the Western world. On the other hand, we are by necessity rooted in the history, geography and milieu of this corner of the globe, as you see reflected around you with all these references to our Pre-Columbian heritage and the various sub-cultures of our peoples, despite the fact that many or most of whom, just like North Americans, are immigrants or descendents from Europe itself—not only from colonial Spain and Portugal, but from Italy, Ireland, Britain, Germany—even Japan and the Middle-East, and really, like the USA to the north, of all of the countries of the world in a greater or lesser extent. Recall the joke of Borges—that the typical Argentine was an Italian, speaking Spanish, who thinks he is an Englishman! Ha! Ha! So in fact Latin American literature, just like ‘American’ or North American literature, has always been a part of both Western Literature and of World Literature, consciously or unconsciously.

If we ask who are the Latin American “Greats” who have made a global impact and contribution to World Literature as a whole beyond the milieu of their origins, then many of the names are quite obvious and familiar: Above all Borges, whose Ficciones and philosophical, bizarre and perplexing stories and exploratory non-linear modes of narrative are modernist classics the world over, such as “The Garden of the Forking Paths.” Then of course, there are the Nobel Prize winners, including many of the “El Boom” period with its “Lo real Maravilloso”—Magical Realism—-of which Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s Cien anos de soledad—the Hundred Years of Solitude is foremost. The Nobel Prize, and perhaps the Neustadt, are prima facie evidence of global contribution—res ipsa loquitur——and thus we would have to include Pablo Neruda of Chile, our own Octavio Paz of Mexico, Asturias of Guatemala, and Gabriela Mistral of Chile. Overall I would have to say the indisputable “Big Three” who have had a global impact as part of World Literature over the last century would be Borges, Neruda, and Garcia Marquez.

Yet obviously it would be a travesty to think of Latin America’s contribution to world literature only in terms of a hagiographic handful of beatified ‘Greats.’ The major contributors to world culture from Latin America go far beyond them. Of the Pre-Columbian heritage, we are hampered by the fact that many of the Indian or American peoples had no written language and much of their rich oral language and traditions have been lost or deliberately suppressed. Yet some important works, such as the Mayan classic, the Popul Vuh, or Council Book, a kind of Mayan Bible recording their myths of origin, classical tales of mythic heroes such as the Celestial Twins Hunahpu and Xbalanque, and a kind of tribal history like the tribal history of the Old Testament, have come down to us, like the Iliad and the Odyssey, originally oral epics memorized by classical singers, then later transcribed into alphabetical script and recorded. As in the case of the heritage of many African tribes, whose oral works and traditions are excluded from the definition of ‘Literature’ by the fact that they were composed orally rather than scripturally, we should keep an open mind and be ready to welcome “Orature” alongside “Literature” where the works are of significant quality and contribution, though I have to admit many of the oral stories and lore as well as contemporary writing offered by opportunistic so-called “Post-Colonial” champions of Third-World cultures are of low quality in their themes, quality of expression and imaginative scope, and of merely anthropological or historical interest, not rising in artistic or imaginative quality to any legitimate level of significant Literature or Orature, and usually bogusly included for reasons of political correctness, guilt, opportunism, or a factitious impulse to liberal inclusiveness, which ignores the vitally necessary criteria of artistic and thematic intrinsic quality. Ultimately Literature qua Literature must address itself to the universal mind, heart and consciousness of humanity as a whole through the intrinsic quality of literary experience, not merely the incidental historical portrayal of the circumstances of a an endless series of sub-groups, ethnicities, genders, and tribalisms without any heightened significance or consciousness beyond their localistic circumstances of origin and of limited interest to others. There can be no World Literature without a standard of intrinsic literary and artistic quality, flexible though it must needs be.

Other Pre-Columbian contributions might include the Cantos Mexicanos, or Songs of the Aztec Nobles, composed orally in Nahuatl and then later transcribed into Romanized script, as was the Popul Vuh, as well as later historical retrospectives recording Romanized transcriptions of Nahuatl, such as Bernardino de Sahagun’s General History of the Affairs of New Spain and Hernando Ruiz de Alarcon’s Treatise on the Superstitions of the Natives of New Spain.  Perhaps these are of more historical than literary interest, though they often show the face of Western Civilization mirrored in the collision of the two hemispheres. Other borderline works of historical-cultural cum literary interest would include the Letters of Columbus to the King, and accounts of the conquest, such as Bernard Diaz del Castillo’s True History of the Conquest of New Spain, and the related historical works of Bartholome de las Casas, “Apostle of the Indians.” Once again, we get into a theoretical point—-“What is Literature?”—-are these works of historical interest only or are they of wider interest to the whole of humanity because of their universal quality? Sometimes it is hard to say at the borderline—-because a work that is perhaps of only local historical interest may become ‘foundational’ to a whole culture—may become a cultural ‘touchstone’ in ignorance of which one can never hope to understand the culture as a whole and the potentially universal ideas which grow out of it—–Perhaps the Old Testament being an example, originally only a self-centered tribalistic totem of a civilizationally marginal people, yet evolving to become the common ethical-religious and spiritual root of the Judeo-Christian-Islamic monotheistic culture dominant in the world today. Yet certainly many parts of it also rise in their literary and artistic high quality to be undeniable parts of literature.

In the colonial period there are many worthy candidates for at least secondary status in the global canon: Juan Ruiz de Alarcon—playwright, and Sor Juana Inez de la Cruz, a remarkable woman and Mexican nun, proto-feminist, and intellectual, noted for her plays, poetry and prose.

From there we then reach the revolutionary period of the rise of nationalisms and Latin American nations attaining independency from Spain and Portugal, and going on to develop national literatures and cultures, all the while part of Western culture and literature and of a Pan-American Latin American culture and literature. Simon Bolivar, “El Liberator” was also a prolific writer, historical essayist and narrator of his military exploits. Similarly the Mexican Lizardi was an ardent propagandist and pamphleteer—a kind of Latin American Tom Paine, and also author of the supposed first Latin American novel, The Itching Parrot. Jose Juaquim Olmedo celebrated the victories of Bolivar in his La Victoria de Junin: Canto a Bolivar.  As with Goethe, we have the coexistence of Classicism and Romanticism in such works as En el teocalli de Cholula, (In the Temple Pyramid of Cholula) of the Cuban Jose Maria Heredia, probably the first appearance of the Romantic poem in Latin America. Preeminent at this time was probably Sarmiento of Argentina, notably his Romantic views in his Life in the Argentine Republic in the Days of the Tyrants—a topic and theme to become widespread, even down to the time of Garcia Marques in his Hundred Years of Solitude. Romanticism and nationalism were as common here in this period as they were in Europe. There are countless others of estimable quality, but perhaps fate did not lend them a global impact.

With the ending of the 19th Century brought on the period of “Modernismo,” which generally saw a break with the nationalistic expression of the prior generation, and writers immersed themselves in a world of artifice and imagination. These were the “Modernistas”, who believed, so it is commonly said, in the French Parnassian ideal of “l’art pour l’art—Art for art’s sake.” They wrote on rare and exotic themes and experimented with language and meter and symbolism. These included Najera, Silva, del Casal and Jose Marti but is generally accepted to have reached its peak with Nicaragua’s Ruben Dario, who I would strongly suggest as a candidate for the global canon of his era.

Then coming down to the early 20th Century, Latin America, together with the rest of the Western world was taken up with a myriad of movements and literary trends. Three women poets distinguished themselves, Alfonsina Storni, Juana de Ibarborou, and notably the Nobel Prize winner Gabriela Mistral, known for their impassioned lyrics. The avant-garde in poetry included, Vincente Hudobro of Chile, Cesar Vallejo of Peru, Nobel winner Jorge Luis Borges of Argentina and Chile’s Pablo Neruda, also a Nobel Prize winner. The Latin American essay reached notable heights with our own Jose Vasconcellos of Mexico, known for his cultural theory and his prominent role in the Mexican Revolution of 1910, and in the more artistic and aesthetic Alfonso Reyes. Urena, Picon-Salas and German Arciniegas made the essay a vehicle for social, historical and political ideas in Spanish speaking America. Our Mexican Revolution of 1910 also produced a flurry of revolutionary historical novels, such as El Aguila y la Serpiente—The Eagle and the Serpent—by Guzman, and The Underdogs, by Azuela. Around this time there was also a movement to represent the particular experience of the Indian or Native peoples, raised to the level of awareness of a protracted social problem, called the “indigenista” literature, with such writers as the Bolivian Alcides Arguedas, with his Raza de bronce—Bronze Race, and El Mundo es ancho y ajeno—Broad and Alien is the World, by the Peruvian Ciro Alegria.

Of course coming down to the second half of the 20th Century again we have the great period of “El Boom” in which Latin American literature really is put on the map of globalized World Literature. The Boom reflected the economic development of Latin America and the assimilation of many of the global Modernist influences in form and technique, multiple points-of-view, stream of consciousness and internal monologue, non-linear innovative narrative styles, and other techniques, pioneered earlier in the century by Faulkner, Joyce, James and Woolf. We have Guatemala’s Nobel Prize winner Miguel Angel Asturias, who combined mythological and social themes in such works as “El Presidente,” and The Bejewelled Boy. Then we have Cuba’s Alejo Carpentier who captured the world of magic and superstition in The Lost Steps and other works, and who is generally credited with coining the term “Magic Realism.” Similarly, writers of the older generation carried their work to higher powers, with Borges, Ficciones, that like many of the Boom writers to follow, combined he real with the fantastic, exploring the outer borders and limits of human reason and reality. His younger Argentine comrade, Julio Cortazar, made history with his formalistic experimentation in non-linear narration, embodied in such works as Rayuela—Hopscotch. And our own Carlos Fuentes, rose to global renown with his La Muerte de Artemio Cruz—The Death of Artemio Cruz, accompanied by other Latin American brothers in letters, such as Mario Vargas Llosa of Peru,–La casa verdeThe Green House, and of course the now immortal Nobel laureate Garcia Marquez with his Hundred Years of Solitude.

Of course everything under the sun has its day, and The Boom gradually receded. In the Post-Boom period, as is ever the case when we draw near the present things are more complicated and confused, and the broad lines are yet to be recognized. There seems to be a turn towards irony and popular genres, such as in the works of Manuel Puig. We even get “Anti-Boom Literature” such as Alberto Fuguet’s “McOndo” satirizing and puncturing the Magic Realism tradition which had now fallen to become an overworked cliché, every book seemingly mandatorily leading to the Latin American jungle where the real and the fantastic are effortlessly and seamlessly evoked, and the spectre of the fantastic and supernatural more and more idiotically is intruded into an unrelated reality, unmotivated by the narrative, themes and characters.  We have the modern “Best Sellers” of Paolo Coelho and Elizabeth Allende, and post-Boom pastiches of Magic Realism, such as Como agua para chocolate, by Laura Esquivel. Historical explorations such as Fernando Vallejo’s account of the violence surrounding the Medellin Cartel appeared, along with the “subaltern’’ and “Testimonio” wave, characterized by such figures as Rigoberta Menchu, and thus the present disappears in the fog of the present day.”

“So what is your take then on the Post-Modern Novel then, drawing on your experience with El Boom and its successors?” asked Sartorius.

“Well as a young writer I was also swept up in the Boom, which in our Latin American literature swept over the area like a tidal wave in the Sixties.” he said.

“As part of the movement, or part of the moment, were you concerned about your originality as a writer?—I mean this ‘anxiety of influence’ thing?” asked Sartorius.

“The originality of a work or a writer is directly proportional to the ignorance of their readers.” Rivera laughed.

“So what’s your take on the Post-Modern novel then, looking back from now?” Sartorius repeated.

As a reaction to Realism I think it was quite healthy, injecting a dimension of fantasy and imaginative development and room for innovations in narrative form that enriched the literary experience immeasurably. From it we begin to evolve the major characteristics of the Post-Modern Novel: Undermining of narrative conventions; subversion of Realism; self-reflexivity; the challenging of the text by the characters; the ‘Metafictional Loop’ whereby the readers re-enact and double searches undertaken by the work’s characters; the emphasis on the reader’s experience—-overwhelming, manipulating and thwarting the reader’s strategies of interpretation; narrative impasses and cognitive confusions; the overthrow of the New Critical assumption that a strong reading can master the text with the Post-Modern assumption that no reading can master the text, rendering reading a Sisyphusian struggle against an insoluable range of meanings; the hyper-ironizing interposition of a mise-en-abime of the persona of the persona of the persona of the author or the text within text within text; the emphasis on Intertextuality—writing as re-reading, allusiveness of the text, creative re-inscription blending into plagiarism; the shift of emphasis from the foregrounding of the process of writing the work of Modernism to the process of reading the work of Post-Modernism; the ‘Breaking the Frame” with incestuous mixtures of fact and fiction and the baring of the raw fictionality of the work—or the assertion that the ‘The Truth of Fiction is that Fact is Fantasy;’  assertion of the absurdity of human existence and the radical undecidability of the text or any possible meaning thereof; the emphasis of plot over character with labyrinthine and entrapping plots overwhelming flattened and stereotypical characters; the shift from the Modernist assumption that there is a real story but it is inaccessible in its totality because of the limitations of human consciousness, to the Post-Modern assumption that there is no ‘real story’ and by extension there is no ‘real’ reality and no ‘real life’ to know; the mixing of high and low culture—academia and popular street culture—-all these are the characteristics of the Post-Modern Novel we have become all too familiar with.”

“So you are now less sympathetic to the Post-Modern novel than you were before?” Sartorius followed up.

“Well, like everything in life it had its day and made its contribution and then began to manifest its limitations. The pendulum swings too far in one direction and it becomes necessary for it to swing back—Yin cannot overcome Yang, nor can Yang overcome Yin as you say from your Chinese experience. I think the Post-Modern movement has exhausted itself and has become a dead-end which now must be escaped into a new direction. Post-Modernism has become part of the ‘Literature of Exhaustion’ which has lost its life source. What do we have?—–We have onanistic novels fixated on the isolated masturbatory self-reflexive process of writing and reading and text which is cut off from life itself. We have flat, fragmented and stereotypical characters incapable of bearing to the reader the gravity of real life experience—with the psychological reality of the characters undercut by the satiric or implausible nature of the fictional universes they inhabit. We have flights of vacuous fantasy and irrealism dissociated with and untethered to real life—escapism and evasion.  Linked also to a Sassurian sense of language alienated from its active human subject we have also a cancerous fictionality which undermines the sensibility of the sacredness and preciousness of life itself in the real human being that for the moment is the reader of the fictional text, but who must then return to confront and engage his real life in the real world in his real community, with its real natural environment, history and culture, and in which he must by necessity live and die. In short, we have a Post-Modern Novel and Literature which is cut off from life itself, and does not return itself to life and the process of living in the real world after its flights of fantasy and fictionality. As critics such as Raymond Williams points out from a Marxist point of view it is an escapist literature without an active social conscience and without political engagement for social reform or revolution—-especially as commensurate with modern globalized social, economic and political conditions, and from an existential or humanistic point of view it is a fiction and literature which evades an engagement with self, reality, and the core issues of life and death and the struggle with the limitations of the human condition in the real world. The bourgeois realist novel declined into an escape into the bourgeois cocoon of love and family and personal decadence whereas the Post-Modern novel declines into escape into alienated language, disengaged fantasy, social fission and deconstructed helplessness. We have a contemporary literature which is unfit for life. —-But I am ever hopeful—the forces of life itself will buoy this literature up and new works and new voices will return it to health I am sure. The Post-Modern Novel has a rendezvous with destiny, and a rendezvous with life that will return it to the service of life while transforming it into something new—that is life itself.

………..So to sum up, all in all, Latin American literature has had a strong mark on global World Literature in the last century, including the greats, Neruda, Borges and Garcia Marquez, and the near greats, Octavio Paz, Asturias, Mistral, Fuentes, Cortazar, and Vargas Llosa. Without them the face of World Literature at the present time would not be the same.” concluded Professor Rivera.

END

Introducing Spiritus Mundi, a Novel by Robert Sheppard: Highlights

Posted on February 12, 2011 by robertalexandersheppard

                       

Introducing Spiritus Mundi, a Novel by Robert Sheppard

Author’s E-mail: rsheppard99_2000@yahoo.com

Related Links and Websites: Spiritus Mundi, Novel by Robert Sheppard

For Introduction and Overview of the Novel: https://spiritusmundinovel.wordpress.com/

For Updates on the Upcoming Movie Version of the Novel, Spiritus Mundi & Casting of Actors and Actresses for Leading Roles See: https://robertalexandersheppard.wordpress.com/

For Author’s Blog: https://robertalexandersheppard.wordpress.com//

To Read Abut the Occupy Wall Street Movement in Spiritus Mundi:  http://occupywallstreetnovel.wordpress.com/

To Read a Sample Chapter from Spiritus Mundi: https://spiritusmundisamplechapters.wordpress.com/

To Read Fantasy, Myth and Magical Realism Excerpts from Spiritus Mundi: https://spiritusmundifantasymythandmagicalrealism.wordpress.com/

To Read Sexual Excerpts from Spiritus Mundi: The Varieties of Sexual Experience: https://spiritusmundivarietiesofsexualexperience.wordpress.com/

To Read Spy, Espionage and Counter-terrorism Thriller Excerpts from Spiritus Mundi: http://spiritusmundispyespionagecounterterrorism.wordpress.com/

To Read Geopolitical and World War Three Excerpts from Spiritus Mundi: https://spiritusmundigeopoliticalworldwar3.wordpress.com/

To Read Spiritual and Religious Excerpts from Spiritus Mundi: https://spiritusmundionspiritualityandreligion.wordpress.com/

To Read about the Global Campaign for a United Nations Parliamentary Assembly in Spiritus Mundi: https://spiritusmundiunitednationsparliamentaryassembly.wordpress.com/

To Read Poetry from Spiritus Mundihttps://spiritusmundipoetry.wordpress.com/

For Discussions on World Literature and Literary Criticism in Spiritus Mundi: http://worldliteratureandliterarycriticism.wordpress.com/

For Discussions of World History and World Civilization in Spiritus Mundi: https://worldhistoryandcivilizationspiritusmundi.wordpress.com/

To Read the Blog of Eva Strong from Spiritus Mundi: https://evasblogfromspiritusmundi.wordpress.com/

To Read the Blog of Andreas Sarkozy from Spiritus Mundi: http://andreasblogfromspiritusmundi.wordpress.com/

To Read the Blog of Yoriko Oe from Spiritus Mundi: http://yorikosblogfromspiritusmundi.wordpress.com/

To Read the Blog of Robert Sartorius from Spiritus Mundi: http://sartoriusblogfromspiritusmundi.wordpress.com/

 

ON SPIRITUS MUNDI

“Read Robert Sheppard’s sprawling, supple novel, Spiritus Mundi, an epic story of global intrigue and sexual and spiritual revelation. Compelling characters, wisdom, insight, and beautiful depictions of locations all over the world will power you through the book. You’ll exit wishing the story lines would go on and on.” May 13, 2012

Robert McDowell, Editor, Writer, Marketer, Editorial Cra, The Nature of Words

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“Robert Sheppard’s novel, “Spiritus Mundi,” has everything. “Spiritus Mundi” is Latin, meaning “spirit” or “soul of the world.” According to the Norton Anthology of English Literature, the phrase refers to “the spirit or soul of the universe” with which all individual souls are connected through the “Great Memory.” This amazing novel is all inclusive and unceasingly riveting. If you are interested in politics, philosophy, human relationships, sex, intrigue, betrayal, poetry and even philosophy — buy and read “Spiritus Mundi”!”November 18, 2012

Raymond P. Keen, School Psychologist, Department of Defense Dependents Schools (DODDS)

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“Robert Sheppard’s new novel “Spiritus Mundi” is a new twist on a well-loved genre. Robert leaves no stone unturned in this compelling page turner you’ll experience mystery, suspense, thrills, and excitement. Robert touches on sexuality and spirituality in such a way that the reader is compelled to ask themselves “what would you do if faced with these trials?” Robert is a master at taking the reader out of their own lives and into the world he created. If you’re looking for a “can’t put down” read pick up Spiritus Mundi!” May 20, 2012

Nicole Breanne, Content Coordinator, Ranker.com
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“Longing for a thrilling experience of the sexual and spiritual world? Expecting a thorough summoning of your inner heart? Aspiring to find an extraordinary voice to enlighten your understanding heart? Then you can’t miss this extraordinary novel, Spiritus Mundi by Robert Sheppard. The author will spirit you into a exciting world filled with fantasy, myth, conflicts and wisdom from a fresh perspective. Don’t hesitate, just turn to the 1st page and start out enjoying this marvellous journey.”November 17, 2012

Alina Mu Liu, Official Interpreter, Editor & Translator, HM Courts & Tribunal Service, London UK & the United Nations

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“Robert Sheppard’s Spiritus Mundi is a literary novel for those with an extensive vocabulary, and who believe how you tell a story is as important as what occurs in it. It is as current as today’s headlines.

Jaime Martinez-Tolentino, Writer” November 19, 2012

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“Robert Sheppard’s exciting new novel, Spiritus Mundi, is an unforgettable read and epic journey of high adventure and self-discovery across the scarred landscape of the modern world and into the mysteries beyond. Its compelling saga reveals the sexual and spiritual lives of struggling global protesters and idealists overcoming despair, nuclear terrorism, espionage and a threatened World War III to bring the world together from the brink of destruction with a revolutionary United Nations Parliamentary Assembly and spiritual rebirth. This modern epic is a must read and compelling vision of the future for all Citizens of the Modern World and a beacon of hope pointing us all towards a better world struggling against all odds to be born.” May 19, 2012

Lara Biyuts, Reviewer and Blogger at Goodreads.com and Revue Blanche

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“Robert Sheppard’s “Spiritus Mundi” is a book of major importance and depth. A must read for any thinking, compassionate human being living in these perilous times. I highly recommend this powerful testament of the current course of our so-called life on his planet. April 25, 2012

Doug Draime Writer, Freelance

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“This new novel ‘Spiritus Mundi’ brings together history, politics, future society, and blends with a plausible World War Three scenario. I have read it and find it over the top fascinating. I am very glad to see Robert share his creativity with the world through this work of fiction, and know it will be a huge hit.” April 28, 2012

Jim Rogers, Owner and Director, AXL

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“Robert Sheppard is an exceptional thinker! His work should be read and made the subject of critical study.”May 26, 2012

Georgia Banks-Martin, Editor, New Mirage Journal

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“This novel rocks the reader with its supple strength. You want to say “No, No,” and you end up saying, “Maybe.” Political science fiction at its highest, most memorable level.”November 17, 2012

Carl Macki, Owner, Carl Macki Social Media

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“Robert Sheppard’s Novel Spiritus Mundi confronts politics and philosophies of the world. He’s examined multiple layers of personality in his characters; male, female, Chinese, Arab, English, and American melding them into a story of possible outcomes. How else can I convey the intelligent presentation of fiction woven with sensitivity to our world’s governments, religious influences and sectarian principles? We must not forget the influence of a largely secular world. Robert tirelessly checked, rechecked and triple checked his resources in order to bring a fiction of occurrence, and psychological impact as set forth in his novel Spiritus Mundi.”November 18, 2012

Glenda Fralin, Author, Organization NWG

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“Robert was one of my best guests. His novel is as wide ranging as are his interests and expertise. He can explain his various ideas with great clarity and he does this with compassion. Novel is worthwhile reading.”November 18, 2012

Dr. Robert Rose, Radio Show Host, http://www.blogtalkradio.com/icdrrose

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I write to introduce to your attention my double novel Spiritus Mundi, consisting of Spiritus Mundi, the Novel—Book I, and Spiritus Mundi, the Romance—Book II. Book I’s espionage-terror-political-religious thriller-action criss-crosses the globe from Beijing to London to Washington, Mexico City and Jerusalem presenting a vast panorama of the contemporary international world, including compelling action, deep and realistic characters and surreal adventures, while Book II dialates the setting and scope into a fantasy (though still rooted in the real) adventure where the protagonists embark on a quest to the realms of Middle Earth and its Crystal Bead Game and through a wormhole to the Council of the Immortals in the Amphitheater in the center of the Milky Way Galaxy in search of the crucial Silmaril Crystal, and to plead for the continuance of the human race in the face of threatened extinction from a nuclear World War III, all followed by a triple-somersault thriller ending in which a common garden-variety terrorist attack is first uncovered by MI6 and the CIA as the opening gambit a Greatpower Game of States threatening World War III and then, incredibly, as the nexus of a Time Travel conspiracy involving an attempt by fascist forces of the 23rd Century to alter a benign World History by a time-travelling raid on their past and our present to provoke that World War III, foiled by the heroic efforts of the democratic 23rd Century world government, the Senate of the United States of Earth, to hunt down the fascist interlopers before their history is irrevocably altered for evil.

When activist Robert Sartorius, leading a global campaign to create a European Parliament-style world-wide United Nations Parliamentary Assembly presses the proposal in New York on his old friend the UN Secretary-General and is rebuffed due to the hostile pressure of the conservative American administration, his Committee resolves to fight back by launching a celebrity-driven Bono-Geldof-Band Aid/Live 8-style “People Power” media campaign and telethon spearheaded by rock superstars Isis and Osiris and former UN Secretary General Boutros Boutros-Ghali to mobilize global public support and pressure in alliance with the Occupy Wall Street Movements worldwide. The Blogs of Sartorius, activist Eva Strong and Committee Chairman Andreas Sarkozy reveal the campaign’s working struggle, their tangled love affairs, a loss of faith, attempted suicide, reconciliation of father and son after divorce, and recovery of personal love and faith.

Things fall apart as the idealists’ global crusade is infiltrated by a cell of jihadist terrorists using it as a cover, then counter-infiltrated by CIA agent Jack McKinsey and British MI6 agent Etienne Dearlove. A cat-and-mouse game of espionage and intrigue ensues pitting them against the Chinese MSS espionage network allied with the Iranian Quds Force crossing Beijing, London, Moscow, Washington and Jerusalem unleashing an uncontrollable series of events which sees the American Olympic Track and Field Team bombed on an airplane in London, uncovers a secret conspiracy of China, Russia and Iran to jointly seize the oil reserves of the Middle-East, and witnesses Presidents Clinton and Carter taken hostage with Sartorius, McKinsey, Eva and other activists at a Jerusalem telethon rally cut short by the explosion of a concealed atomic device in a loaned Chinese Terracotta Warrior, then flown by capturing terrorists to Qom, Iran as “human shields” to deter a retaliatory nuclear attack.

In Book II, Spiritus Mundi, the Romance they encounter Iran’s Supreme Leader in Qom as the world teeters on the brink of nuclear confrontation and World War III, while mysterious events unfold leading Sartorius and McKinsey from their captivity in the underground nuclear facilities of Qom into a hidden neo-mythic dimension that takes them to a vast ocean and land at the center of the world, Middle Earth, Inner Shambhala, and to involvement in a mysterious Castalian “Crystal Bead Game” linked to the destiny of the human race on earth. They then embark on a quest for the Silmaril, or Missing Seed Crystal to the central island of Omphalos in the Great Central Sea in the middle of the globe, aided by Goethe, the Chinese Monkey King, Captain Nemo, the African God-Hero Ogun, and a Sufi mystic they traverse a ‘wormhole’ at the center of the earth guarded by ‘The Mothers’ and the fallen angel tribe of the Grigori (Genesis 6:1-4) which leads the way to critical meeting of the “Council of the Immortals” at the Black Hole in the center of the Milky Way Galaxy to determine the final fate of the human species. The heroes battle and overcome the treacherous opposition of Mephisto and his satanic subaltern Mundus through their Underworld and Otherworld adventures and successfully plead the cause of the continuation of the human species before the Immortals, returning with the critical Silmaril Crystal, resolving the Crystal Bead Game and thereby inspiring through the Archangel Gabriel a dream in the mind of Iran’s Supreme Leader which brings a new Revelation causing him to release the hostages and an end the crisis. China and Russia stand down from aiding Iran in seizing the Mid-East oil reserves, but in a treacherous blow the Chinese instead utilize their forward-positioned armies to attack their former ally Russia and seize Siberia with its large oil and gas reserves instead. President Barret Osama, America’s newly-elected first black President then invites Russia, Japan and South Korea to join NATO and together they succeed in expelling the Chinese from Siberia and usher in a new Eurasian and global balance of power and a New World Order.

Rock Superstar Osiris meanwhile, after undertaking a narcissistic Messianic mission in the wake of the Jerusalem atomic blast is dramatically assassinated on live world-wide television on Jerusalem’s Via Dolorosa by a disillusioned follower. His wife and rock-star partner Isis then leads a spiritual movement to reconcile and unite the clashing religions and catalyze a common global spiritual Renaissance through a Global Progressive Spiritual Alliance which seeks to construct an Inter-faith Temple on the ruins of the atomic blast in Jerusalem. In counter-reaction to the cataclysmic events the world finally implements Sartorius’ crusade for a United Nations Parliamentary Assembly, but not before Sartorius has himself has died, Moses-like of a heart attack while helping to foil a metaconspiracy mediated by Time Travel in which a fascist agent from the 23rd Century who has time-transited back to our time to alter a benign history by causing WWIII and thus preventing the evolution of a democratic world government, the United States of Earth, which follows him through time and nabs him just in the “nick of time” to prevent Aramgeddon. The book ends with the opening ceremony of the UN Parliamentary Assembly which is attended in Sartorius’ name by his widow Eva Strong, whom Sartorius had fallen in love with and married in the course of the novel, and by their son Euphy, newborn after Sartorius’ death. They are joined in cinematic climax at the ceremony by newly chosen UN Secretary-General Clinton, President Osama and UN Parliamentary Assembly Committee Chairman Andreas Sarkozy who have just received the Nobel Peace Prize for their work in creation of the world’s first world parliamentary assembly within the United Nations, bringing together the representative voices of the peoples of the world in face-to-face assembly and dialogue for the first time in world history.

Highlights:

All the Highlights of the novel cannot be contained in such a short Introduction, but a few of them would include:

1. Spiritus Mundi is the first novel in world history to portray the creation of a United Nations Parliamentary Assemblyon the working model, inter alia, of the European Parliament and the first novel to portray the Occupy Wall Street Movement and related movements worldwide;

2. Spiritus Mundi is a prophetic geo-political WWIII novel of the near future forseeing a conflict and conspiratorial surprise attack by a resurgent “Axis” of China, Russia and Iran seeking by a decisive blow in jointly seizing the Middle-East oil fields to radically alter the global balance of power vis-a-vis the West in the world and Eurasia. Like Clancy’s The Bear and the Dragon, it forsees the inclusion of Russia in NATO, and goes far beyond in forseeing the inclusion of South Korea and Japan, following a joint Chinese-Russian occupation of a collapsing North Korea and the Axis strike at the Middle-Eastern oil fields;

3. Spiritus Mundi is an exciting espionage thriller involving the American CIA. British MI6, the Chinese MSS, or Ministry of State Security and the Russian SVR contending in a deul of intrigue and espionage;

4. Spiritus Mundi is a Spellbinding Terrorism/Counterterrorism novel involving a global plot to conceal an atomic bomb in a Chinese Teracotta Warrior to be detonated in Jerusalem;

5. Features the romantic and sexual searching and encounters of dozens of idealist activists, rock-stars, CIA and MI6 agents, public-relations spinmeisters and billionaires with a detour into the bi-sexual and gay scenes of Beijing, New York, California, London and Tokyo:

6. Establishes and grounds the new genre of the Global Novel written in Global English, the international language of the world,

7. Spiritus Mundi is a novel of Spiritual Searching featuring the religious searching of Sufi mystic Mohammad ala Rushdie, as well as the loss of faith, depression, attempted suicide and recovery of faith in life of protagonist Sartorius. Follows bogus religious cult leaders and the Messiah-Complex megalomanic-narcissistic mission of rock superstar Osiris that leads to his dramatic assassination on worldwide television in Jerusalem, followed by the religious conversion of his wife and rock-star parner Isis;

8. Features the search for love and sexual fulfillment of Eva Strong, a deeply and realistically portrayed divorced single mother involved in the United Nations campaign, who reveals her tortured heart and soul in her Blog throughout several disastrous sexual affairs and ultimately through her final attainment of love and marriage to Sartorius;

9. Features Sartorius’ experience of a bitter divorce, alienation and reconciliation with his son, his loss of faith and attempted suicide, his battle against drugs and alcoholism, his surreal and sexual adventures in Mexico City, and his subsequent redeeming love and marriage to Eva Strong;

10. Contains the in–depth literary conversations of Sartorius and his best friend, Literature Nobel Laureate Günther Gross, as they conduct worldwide interviews and research for at book they are jointly writing on the emergence of the new institution of World Literature, building on Goethe’s original concept of “Weltliteratur” and its foundations and contributions from all the world’s traditions and cultures;

11. Predicts the emergence of the institution and quest of “The Great Global Novel” as a successor to the prior quest after “The Great American Novel” in the newer age of the globalization of literature in Global English and generally;

12. Features the cross-cultural experiences and search for roots, sexual and spiritual fulfillment and authenticity of Asian-American character Jennie Zheng, and Pari Kasiwar of India;

13. For the first time incorporates in the dramatic narrative flow of action the mythic traditions of all the cultures and literatures of the world, including such figures as Goethe, The Chinese Monkey King, the African God-Hero Ogun, surreal adventures in the ‘Theatro Magico’ in Mexico City bringing to life figures from the Mayan-Aztec Popul Vuh, Hanuman from the Indian classic the Ramayana, and many more;

14. Book Two, Spiritus Mundi, the Romance is a fantastic Fantasy, Myth and Magical Realism Rollercoaster Ride: The more mythic Book Two utilizes a Wellsian motif of Time Travel to explore the making of history and its attempted unmaking (a la Terminator) by a hositile raid from the future on the past, our present, and the foiling of the fascist attempt by an alliance of men and women of goodwill and courage from past, present and future generations united in a Commonwealth of Human Destiny; Like Thomas Pynchon’s Against the Day and Welles’ Journey to the Center of the Earth it involves a journey to an interior realm of the “Middle Earth;” it also contains a futuristic travel through a wormhole to the center of our Milky Way Galaxy for a meeting with the “Council of the Immortals” where the fate of the human race will be decided;

15. Is a fantastic read on a roller-coaster ride of high adventure and self-exploration!

C  Copyright 2013  Robert Sheppard  All Rights Reserved

About robertalexandersheppard

Robert Sheppard , Author, Poet & Novelist Pushcart Prize fof Literature 2014 Nominee Professor of World and Comparative Literature Professor of International Law Senior Associate, Committee for a Democratic United Nations (KDUN) E-mail: rsheppard99_2000@yahoo.com Robert Sheppard is the author of the acclaimed dual novel Spiritus Mundi, nominated for the prestigious 2014 Pushcart Prize for Literature in two parts, Spiritus Mundi the Novel, Book I and Spiritus Mundi the Romance, Book II. The acclaimed “global novel” features espionage-terror-political-religious-thriller action criss-crossing the contemporary world involving MI6, the CIA and Chinese MSS Intelligence as well as a "People Power" campaign to establish a United Nations Parliamentary Assembly on the model of the European Parliament, with action moving from Beijing to London to Washington, Mexico City and Jerusalem while presenting a vast panorama of the contemporary international world, including compelling action and surreal adventures. It also contains the unfolding sexual, romantic and family relationships of many of its principal and secondary characters, and a significant dimension of spiritual searching through "The Varieties of Religious Experience." It contains also significant discussions of World Literature, including Chinese, Indian, Western and American literature, and like Joyce's Ulysses, it incorposates a vast array of stylistic approaches as the story unfolds. Dr. Sheppard presently serves as a Professor of International Law and World Literature at Peking University, Northeastern University and the State Intellectual Property Office (SIPO) of China, and has previously served as a Professor of International Law and MBA professor at Tsinghua University, Renmin People’s University, the China University of Politics and Law and at the Law Institute of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS) in Beijing, China. Having studied Law, Comparative Literature and politics at the University of California, Berkeley (Ph. D.Program in Comparative Literature), Northridge, Tübingen, Heidelberg, the People’s College and San Francisco, (BA, MA, JD), he additionally has been active as professor of International Trade, Private International Law, and Public International Law from 1993 to 1998 at Xiamen University, Beijing Foreign Studies University, the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences Graduate School (CASS), and the China University of Political Science and Law in Beijing. Since 2000 he has served as a Senior Consultant to the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) in Beijing and has authored numerous papers on the democratic reform of the United Nations system.
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