Reviewed by Curtis Lyons, Head, Special Collections and Archives
Richmond author James Branch Cabell was catapulted to national prominence when the State of New York unsuccessfully attempted to ban his book Jurgen in 1920. Jurgen is Cabell's simultaneous indictment and defense of the conventions of love, marriage, and sex, complete with very thinly veiled sexual symbolism (very tame by today's standards).
Jurgen, a monstrous clever fellow, is a middle-aged pawn-broker who believes he could have been so much more as he sets off in search of his ensorcelled wife, taken from him in response to an ill-fated remark he made to a stranger. Along the way he is helped and hindered by the likes of Merlin, Helen of Troy, Grandfather Satan, Queen Guinevere, and many other figures from the canon of western literature and is allowed to relive his youth and the lives and loves that he missed out on the first time around.
Cabell is in the satiric tradition of Cervantes, Erasmus, Rabelais, and Swift and was a major influence on Robert Heinlein and Neil Gaiman. You can read more about Cabell and his works at theVCU Libraries Special Collections and Archives online exhibit.
Cabell Library PS3505 .A153 J8 (Multiple Copies in Stacks and Special Collections and Archives. Check VCU Libraries Catalog for holdings information)