John Cowper Powys and the Magical Quest

Morine Krissdottir
Date Published
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To complement its list of eight John Cowper Powys’s novels, Faber Finds is pleased to reissue Morine Krissdottir’s first book on the great author, John Cowper Powys and the Magical Quest.
Morine Krissdottir is the foremost writer on John Cowper Powys with her biography of him, Descents of Memory: The Life of John Cowper Powys, published in 2007, being definitive.

John Cowper Powys and the Magical Quest is a detailed examination of Powys’s ‘mythology’. The term was used by him to cover not only his philosophy and his art, but all that had influenced him in the literature, legend and occult lore of the past. Morine Krissdottir’s fascinating and scholarly book shows how his studies in the Grail Quest, Welsh legend and the writings of the alchemists were used to shape his philosophy and how this in turn helped to dictate the form and and content of the novels he wrote mainly to express it.

The source of John Cowper Powys’ s creativity was always his vision of a lost golden age, but he vacillated agonisingly between regarding this simply as the fruit of his imagination and as a part of objective reality. His lifelong quest was to resolve this duality in a ‘complex vision’ whose ever-changing imagery and symbolism he was to fill with irony and compassion.

There was a time when much of Powys’ work was considered to be too deeply involved with the grotesque, the demonic and the occult to be of great interest to any but his devotees. Now, in an age in which there has been a renewal of Western interest in the ‘non-rational’, his novels are claiming their rightful place and appealing to an ever-growing public.


Morine Krissdottir was born in Canada of Icelandic descent. Trained both in English literature and psychology, her special interest is the relationship of myth and creativity. Her interest in John Cowper Powys is long-standing and fruitful. As author, in addition to John Cowper Powys and the Magical Quest (reissued by Faber Finds), there is the definitive biography, Descents of Memory:…

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