infobox Book |
name = Silverlock

image_caption = First edition cover
author = John Myers Myers
cover_artist =
country = United States
language = English
series =
genre = Fantasy novel
publisher = E. P. Dutton
release_date = 1949
media_type = Print (Hardback & Paperback)
pages = 349 pp
isbn = NA

"Silverlock" is a novel by John Myers Myers published in 1949. It recounts the adventures of A. Clarence Shandon as he takes a trip through the land of great literature. It makes many allusions to famous works of literature including the Odyssey and Don Quixote. In fact every character (besides the protagonist) and every location visited is from another work of literature.

Plot summary

This novel follows A. Clarence Shandon, who is plucked from a life of gloom into an adventurous journey through the "Commonwealth of Letters", an allegorical land of major literature. Golias, his guide, is a man well versed in this land, and is in fact each of the great storytellers of the fictional world embodied in a single person.

Shandon is a bored thirty-something with a BA in business administration from Chicago who is stuck in a dead-end existence. While on a sea-voyage his ship founders and he is washed ashore in the mystical land known only as "The Commonwealth".

Shandon is referred to as "Silverlock" by his guide, Golias. Part of the reader's pleasure is in trying to identify the places and characters in the book, since they are all from other works of literature or mythology.

"In this richly picaresque story of a modern man's fruitful adventurings in legendary realms of gold, John Myers Myers has presented a glowing tapestry of real excitement and meaning. In essence, this is the tale of Silverlock's wanderings in the Commonwealth, the land of immortal heroes real and imagined, in search of his true destiny. In form, it is sheer headlong narrative, with occasional clangorous verses woven into its fabric. In content, it is something between a many-peopled, incident-studded story of high emprise, and a morality for our time. Always it is fresh and bold in concept, superb in its execution . . . How A. Clarence Shandon came to the Commonwealth, exchanging his everyday name and Chicago-bound life for that of a traveler beyond time; what great ones of old legend and modern story he encountered, and to what purpose; what loves he knew and what fights he fought; what trials befell him in the Pit, and what truth he discovered when at last he won to the Hippocrene Spring -- these are matters of such crowding variety and implicit significance as the reader must discover for himself . . . And in the discovering, the literate reader will have a wonderful time. He will be amused by the wicked wit that illumines the vast panorama, and intrigued by the challenge it offers his own learning. Most of all, he will be impressed by its profound knowledge, of our cultural heritage, and stirred by its vital interpretations."--From first edition the dust jacket [cite book | first=John Myers | last= Myers|title=Silverlock | publisher=E P Dutton | date=1949 ]

Characters in "Silverlock"

*A. Clarence Shandon, called "Silverlock" in the novel because of the silver streak in his hair: protagonist
*Golias: Shandon's guide. His name is that of the mythical patron saint of wandering bards. [cite web |url= |title= The Archpoet: The Confession Of Golias |accessdate=2008-08-10 |work=Medieval Sourcebook |publisher=Fordham University Center for Medieval Studies |date=Last Modified: Dec, 2006 ] . He is also identified as as Orpheus, Taliesin, Amergin, Virgil, and other wandering poets.
*Robin Hood
*Faust after his damnation
*Pathfinder (from "The Last of the Mohicans")
*Don Quixote and his squire, Sancho Panza
*Don Juan as a friendly ne'er-do-well
*The Mad Hatter
*The Green Knight

Literary significance & criticism

"John Myers Myers is remembered [largely] for SILVERLOCK, a recursive fantasy that centres on a picaresque voyage by a shipwrecked protagonist through the 'Commonwealth' (of literature), where he encounters numerous characters and situations from world literature and mythology -- the Ass of Apuleius, Beowulf, the Green Knight, Robin Hood, Dante's Hell, Friar John from RABELAIS, and many more. The novel is light and pleasant, rather in the manner of Christopher Morley . . . " Grant [cite book | title=The Encyclopedia of Fantasy | date=1997 | last=Clute | first=Grant ]

" . . . Gulliverian fantasy in which a castaway is washed up on the shore of the Commonwealth, where all the great characters of literature are to be found; the hapless hero wanders around, repeatedly getting himself into difficulties and finding famous rescuers, eventually cultivating a kind of heroism. An amusing exercise in literary game playing . . . " Barron [cite book | title=Fantasy Literature | date=1990 | last=Barron ]

"Journeys of self-discovery appear in every genre, teaching us about the main character as well as ourselves. The journey takes many forms: Gilgamesh searching for immortality; Dante's trips to Heaven, Hell, and Purgatory; and Wyatt and Billy's road trip in Easy Rider, among many others. These voyages speak to human beings' desire to answer fundamental questions about their place in the world. John Myers Myers takes a novel approach to this genre in Silverlock. His main character learns about himself by participating in the lives of other literary figures." Eller [cite web
title=John Myers Myers, Silverlock (Ace Books, 2005)
author=Eller, Eric
publisher=Green Man Review

Release details

*1949, USA, E P Dutton, 1949, hardback (First edition) [ [ Library of Congress listing] ]
*1982, USA, Ace Books (ISBN 0-441-76673-0), Pub date ? December 1982, paperback
*1992, USA, Buccaneer Books (ISBN 0-89968-409-2), Pub date ? December 1992, hardback
*1996, USA, Time Warner International (ISBN 0-441-76674-9), Pub date 1 April 1996, paperback
*2004, USA, Nesfa Press (ISBN 1-886778-52-3), Pub date ? February 2004, hardback (with Silverlock Companion)
*2005, USA, Ace Books (ISBN 0-441-01247-7), Pub date 30 April 2005, paperback


External links

* [ Visit the Commonwealth of Letters]
* [ Lee's Silverlock Reading Journal]
** isfdb title|1211
** isfdb title|6356|The Moon's Fire-Eating Daughter
* [ "Silverlock", including "The Silverlock Companion"] : NESFA Press edition with annotations and further information
* [ Review by Eric Eller]

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