|Author||Samuel R. Delany|
|Cover artist||Linda Kosarin|
|April 17, 2012|
Through the Valley of the Nest of Spiders is a novel by Samuel R. Delany.
An excerpt from a draft of the novel was published as "In the Valley of the Nest of Spiders" in issue 7 of Black Clock magazine.
A set of typographical corrections for the published novel has already been released.
The novel begins in Atlanta, Georgia, on July 6, 2007, where we meet Eric Jeffers some six days before his seventeenth birthday. Eric is living with his adoptive father, Mike. The story follows Eric as he goes to live with his mother, Barbara, in the fictive "Runcible County" on the Georgia coast. There, living in the town of "Diamond Harbor", Eric learns that a black, gay philanthropist has established a utopian community for black gay men in a neighborhood called the Dump. Eric takes a job with the local garbage man, Dynamite, and his nineteen-year-old helper, Morgan. The two boys become life partners, and the novel follows them—through job changes (from garbage men, to managing a pornographic theater, to handymen), changes of friends, and changes of address (from a cabin in the Dump, to an apartment over the movie theater, to another cabin out on Gilead, a nearby island)—into the twilight of their years.Though it does move many decades into the future and off-handedly mentions fictional future events and technologies, the novel does not exactly fit within the realm of science fiction.
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The title of the novel is an homage to Italo Calvino's similarly titled novel The Path to the Nest of Spiders .
Through the Valley of the Nest of Spiders can also be viewed as a companion piece to Dark Reflections , Delany's immediately previous novel. But where Dark Reflections centers on themes of loneliness, sexual repression, fear, and the difficult life of the artist, Through the Valley of the Nest of Spiders, in sharp contrast, celebrates companionship, love, sexual openness, and freedom. Toward the end of Dark Reflections, we learn that in his youth, Arnold Hawley, the novel's protagonist, ran away in fear from a situation that would likely have changed the course of his life. Early in Through the Valley of the Nest of Spiders, Eric is told a story by Bill Bottom, a neighbor of his. Bill, like Arnold, ran away from a situation that had the potential for great happiness. He concludes by asking Eric to promise that when he is presented with his own choice—and, Bill insists, that moment will come—to choose happiness, no matter how afraid he might be to take that path. The major themes of Through the Valley of the Nest of Spiders are love, relationships, and the consequences—both good and bad—of taking that chance and making the choice to go after what makes you happy.
Beginning relatively early in Eric's life (while he is still seventeen in the story), he repeatedly expresses a desire to do good things for other people. This is a thematic element that spans the novel.
There is also a very strong tie to Baruch Spinoza. He is mentioned early in the novel, and in the latter half, Eric is given a copy of Ethica by a character named Mama Grace. Eventually, Eric reads Ethica several times. It shapes and reflects his actions and attitudes.
Like The Mad Man , Hogg , and Equinox , Through the Valley of the Nest of Spiders has several highly pornographic scenes.
In recent interviews, Delany has stated that it is his design to have Through the Valley of the Nest of Spiders straddle the lines between literature, science fiction, and pornography.[ citation needed ]
Delany has said, in an interview with Kenneth James, that he was inspired to write the book by a quote from Vladimir Nabokov.In the essay "On A Book Entitled 'Lolita'", Nabokov describes what he learned when he deduced that his novel had been rejected by publishers who, dismayed by its theme of underage sexuality and rape, didn't even read it. He stated:
there are at least three themes which are utterly taboo as far as most American publishers are concerned. The two others are: a Negro-White marriage which is a complete and glorious success resulting in lots of children and grandchildren; and the total atheist who lives a happy and useful life, and dies in his sleep at the age of 106.
Through the Valley of the Nest of Spiders garnered positive reviews. Roger Bellin of the Los Angeles Review of Books called it "a book worthy of his career full of masterpieces — and a book that no one else could have written."Steven Shaviro stated that "it is the best English-language novel that I know of, of the 21st century so far." Further praise came in reviews from Paul Di Filippo in a review in Locus magazine and Jo Walton at Tor.com.
Edward Parker of Lambda Literary stated that "Time is an important theme throughout the book. Delany has constructed the story so that time passes slowly in the beginning—the whole first half of the book covers only five of the novel’s seventy years—and then accelerates as the main characters age, structurally reflecting the human experience of time...but I wondered occasionally, especially in the novel’s first half, whether the story could not have been told in fewer words." Parker criticized what he saw as a lack of editorial oversight, citing as an example a passage describing toastmaking that had little to do with the scene occurring around it but also considering the literary worth of its prose and wondering if it helped the reader relate to "the feeling of the slowness of time."
Joanna Russ was an American writer, academic and radical feminist. She is the author of a number of works of science fiction, fantasy and feminist literary criticism such as How to Suppress Women's Writing, as well as a contemporary novel, On Strike Against God, and one children's book, Kittatinny. She is best known for The Female Man, a novel combining utopian fiction and satire, and the story "When It Changed".
Pale Fire is a 1962 novel by Vladimir Nabokov. The novel is presented as a 999-line poem titled "Pale Fire", written by the fictional poet John Shade, with a foreword, lengthy commentary and index written by Shade's neighbor and academic colleague, Charles Kinbote. Together these elements form a narrative in which both fictional authors are central characters.
Vladimir Vladimirovich Nabokov, also known by the pen name Vladimir Sirin, was a Russian-American novelist, poet, translator, and entomologist. Born in Russia, he wrote his first nine novels in Russian (1926–1938) while living in Berlin. He achieved international acclaim and prominence after moving to the United States and beginning to write in English. Nabokov became an American citizen in 1945, but he and his wife returned to Europe in 1961, settling in Montreux, Switzerland.
Pnin is Vladimir Nabokov's 13th novel and his fourth written in English; it was published in 1957. The success of Pnin in the United States launched Nabokov's career into literary prominence. Its eponymous protagonist, Timofey Pavlovich Pnin, is a Russian-born assistant professor in his 50s living in the United States, whose character is believed to be based partially on the life of both Nabokov's colleague Marc Szeftel as well as on Nabokov himself. Exiled by the Russian Revolution and what he calls the "Hitler war", Pnin teaches Russian at the fictional Waindell College, loosely inspired by Cornell University and Wellesley College—places where Nabokov himself taught.
Stars in My Pocket Like Grains of Sand (1984) is a science fiction novel by Samuel R. Delany. It is part of what would have been a "diptych", in Delany's description, of which the second half, The Splendor and Misery of Bodies, of Cities, remains unfinished.
The Original of Laura is an incomplete novel by Vladimir Nabokov, which he was writing at the time of his death in 1977. It was published by Nabokov’s son Dmitri Nabokov in 2009, despite the author’s request that the work be destroyed upon his death.
Lolita is a 1962 comedy-drama film directed by Stanley Kubrick and based on the 1955 novel of the same title by Vladimir Nabokov, who is also credited with writing the screenplay. The film follows Humbert Humbert, a middle-aged literature lecturer who becomes sexually infatuated with Dolores Haze, a young adolescent girl. It stars James Mason, Shelley Winters, Peter Sellers and Sue Lyon as the titular character.
The Mad Man is a sexually drenched literary novel by Samuel R. Delany, first published in 1994 by Richard Kasak. In a disclaimer that appears at the beginning of the book, Delany describes it as a "pornotopic fantasy". It was originally published in 1994, republished and slightly revised in 1996, and republished again with significant changes in 2002 and again in an e-book version with further corrections in 2015. Delany considers the 2015 version the definitive edition.
Despair is the seventh novel by Vladimir Nabokov, originally published in Russian, serially in the politicized literary journal Sovremennye zapiski during 1934. It was then published as a book in 1936, and translated to English by the author in 1937. Most copies of the 1937 English edition were destroyed by German bombs during World War II; only a few copies remain. Nabokov published a second English translation in 1965; this is now the only English translation in print.
Blanche Baker is an American actress and filmmaker. She won an Emmy Award for Best Supporting Actress for her work in the television mini-series Holocaust. Baker is known for her role as Ginny Baker in Sixteen Candles; she also starred in the title role of Lolita on Broadway. In 2012, she produced and starred in a film about Ruth Madoff titled Ruth Madoff Occupies Wall Street.
Look at the Harlequins! is a novel written by Vladimir Nabokov, first published in 1974. The work was Nabokov's final published novel before his death in 1977.
The term "Lolita" is used to define a young girl as "precociously seductive...without connotations of victimization". The term derives from Vladimir Nabokov's 1955 novel Lolita, which describes the narrator's sexual obsession and subsequent sexual abuse of a 12-year-old girl named Dolores, whose nickname was Lolita.
Dark Reflections is a novel by Samuel R. Delany, published in 2007 by Carroll & Graf, an imprint of Avalon Publishing Group. In 2008 it received a Stonewall Book Award and was nominated for a Lambda Literary Award for Gay Men's Fiction.
Transparent Things is a novel by Vladimir Nabokov published in 1972. It was originally written in English.
The Enchanter is a novella written by Vladimir Nabokov in Paris in 1939. As Волшебник (Volshebnik) it was his last work of fiction written in Russian. Nabokov never published it during his lifetime. After his death, his son Dmitri translated the novella into English in 1986 and it was published the following year. Its original Russian version became available in 1991. The story deals with the hebephilia of the protagonist and thus is linked to and presages the Lolita theme.
Lolita is a 1955 novel written by Russian-American novelist Vladimir Nabokov. The novel is notable for its controversial subject: the protagonist and unreliable narrator, a middle-aged literature professor under the pseudonym Humbert Humbert, is obsessed with a 12-year-old girl, Dolores Haze, with whom he becomes sexually involved after he becomes her stepfather. "Lolita" is his private nickname for Dolores. The novel was originally written in English and first published in Paris in 1955 by Olympia Press. Later it was translated into Russian by Nabokov himself and published in New York City in 1967 by Phaedra Publishers.
Michael Maar is a German literary scholar, germanist and author.
Samuel R. Delany, nicknamed "Chip", is an American author and literary critic. His work includes fiction, memoir, criticism and essays on science fiction, literature, sexuality, and society.
Black Clock was an American literary magazine that lasted twelve years and twenty-one issues. Edited by Steve Erickson and published semi-annually by CalArts in association with its MFA Writing Program, the magazine was "dedicated to fiction, poetry and creative essays that explore[d] the frontier territory of constructive anarchy."
The 20th Century's Greatest Hits: 100 English-Language Books of Fiction is a list of the 100 best English-language books of the 20th century compiled by American literary critic Larry McCaffery. The list was created largely in response to the Modern Library 100 Best Novels list (1999), which McCaffery considered out of touch with 20th-century fiction. McCaffery wrote that he saw his list "as a means of sharing with readers my own views about what books are going to be read 100 or 1000 years from now". The list includes many books not included in the Modern Library list, including five of the top ten: Thomas Pynchon's Gravity's Rainbow, Robert Coover's The Public Burning, Samuel Beckett's Trilogy, Gertrude Stein's The Making of Americans, and William S. Burrough's The Nova Trilogy. Topping the list is Vladimir Nabokov's 1962 novel Pale Fire, which McCaffery called the "most audaciously conceived novel of the century."
are at least three themes which are utterly taboo.