The Quincunx
June 15, 2020 8:20 AM - by Palliser, Charles - Subscribe

"An extraordinary modern novel in the Victorian tradition, Charles Palliser has created something extraordinary—a plot within a plot within a plot of family secrets, mysterious clues, low-born birth, high-reaching immorality, and, always, always the fog-enshrouded, enigmatic character of 19th century—London itself."

Down and dirty Dickens without end - "The Quincunx is an absolutely stunning literary achievement. Much more than that, it's a great read."

Literature that refuses to solve its mysteries - "Charles Palliser published The Quincunx almost 30 years ago, and everyone started writing differently as a result, argues one writer, who reflects on just how groundbreaking it remains"

The Quincunx
It is this pastiche that is most often discussed in regard to The Quincunx. But the term doesn’t really do the book justice. Far from simply paraphrasing and satirising classic authors, Palliser takes the skills, interests and characteristics of the mid-nineteenth century novel and perfects them, distils them, concentrates them, creating a novel which is more Dickensian than Dickens, more Collins than Collins ever was. It is everything you could want in a Victorian novel: episodic, all encompassing, and packed with denouements at every turn.

Added to this nineteenth century focus, Palliser uses a host of modernist devices including an unreliable narrator, inconclusive ending, and concealed structure to make the mystery all the more deceptive.
Comments on “The Quincunx” from
posted by the man of twists and turns (4 comments total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
Holy heck, I haven't thought of snarkout in years.
posted by Chrysostom at 9:28 AM on June 15, 2020

oh yeah, this one is a fun read. its been years, maybe a re-read is in order!
posted by supermedusa at 9:30 AM on June 15, 2020

I think of this book as much as almost any other I've ever read. Something about the slow spiral into destitution, paired, at each step, with the sliver of hope that this, finally, will be as bad as it gets, just gives me pause. I might not even be remembering it properly, it's been so long. I'm not certain, in 2020, that I could reread it.
posted by OHenryPacey at 7:21 AM on June 16, 2020

I just stopped by to say this post caused me to order a copy. I'm now 30 pages in, and will see you in another 600+ pages......
posted by acrasis at 10:48 AM on June 28, 2020

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