Re: The Last Unicorn - Chapters 13 - 14
Interesting point. I tend to think "immortal" is imagery for "independent of the forces of time and history", so that Euclid is more immortal than Plato, if that makes any sense. I take Robert's point that the unicorn evokes (and maybe represents) innocent Nature, ever green and benevolent. So for such a force to become mortal, or perhaps to be channeled by a mortal, (to use a more manageable version) is a dramatic take on interaction with humanity, driven as we are to ravage nature for money.
Shmendrick's immortality is little more than a joke. He is independent of the forces of time in the way that a fool is always the same Fool as all the others. But since I am convinced he is meant to evoke the possibilities of imaginative art, and especially literature, it is saying something interesting that Nikos "condemned" him not to age until he somehow surrendered to his hidden, latent gift. Perhaps suggesting that a writer cannot jump into the stream of time until she or he has learned to accept the limitations of the art, limitations which drive the artist to find meaning in the specific, thus transcending the preoccupations of the current world. Writing which is "merely topical" is like packaged breakfast cereal - a poor substitute for the real thing.
I agree, actually. I know I have been finding resurrections and incarnations everywhere, but I think those are in both Christianity and much good fantasy (Gandalf is re-born,for example) because they are archetypes almost inescapable in the deep places of the human psyche. This is clearly a book about the tension between money/power on one hand and innocence/nature on the other. And I think Beagle does an excellent job with it.
Well, I think that is a key image in Beagle's exploration of his themes. As human Amalthea, she cares. But she risks losing touch with her true nature and her primal power. Beagle, it seems, does not think of romance as the true nature of womanhood, and certainly not as the true nature of Nature.
Yes, the one aspect of the book that I think rises to the level of genius is his success at weaving the drollery into his grand themes of appearance vs. reality and of emotions as every bit as real as the "immortal" business of logic and reason. My favorite example of his humor is the money that cries out to the one it loves, but the skull (and its surrender to the marvelous taste of "wine") is a close second.