In Snowy Tower, Martin Shaw offers a telling of the Grail epic Parzival. Claiming it as a great Trickster story of medieval Europe, he reveals new implications of its depths: What is it saying to us about our lives in the early twenty first century?
In Snowy Tower, Dr. Martin Shaw continues his trilogy of works on the relationship between myth, wilderness and a culture of wildness. In this second book, he gives a telling of the Grail epic Parzival. Claiming it as a great Trickster story of medieval Europe, he offers a deft and erudite commentary, topics ranging from climate change and the soul, the discipline of erotic consciousness, the hallucination of empire, to a re-visioning of the dark speech of the ancient bards.
Ingrained in the very syntax of Snowy Tower is an invocation of what Shaw calls ‘wild mythologies’ – stories that are more than just human allegory, that seem to brush the winged thinking of owl, stream and open moor. This daring work offers a connection to “the genius of the margins”; that the big questions of today will not be solved by big answers, but by the myriad of associations that both myth and wilderness offer.
“We hardly knew it, but we have been needing this story to return to us. It is one of the truly magnificent stories of our civilization. As you experience Martin Shaw’s handling of the medieval epic Parzival, you enter the great myth of your own life. The great loves, the wound that won’t heal, the lost brother we finally find, the grail that keeps leading us on. As a child, Parzival was called ‘Beautiful Face’, and you may find your own beautiful original face right here. This work is the wide-sky-waking of a spring dawn.”Coleman Barks, author of The Essential Rumi
“An outrageous piece of magic, this horde of galloping insights sprung from the meeting of one of Europe’s most alchemical story traditions with the pirate brilliance of Martin Shaw. His rollicking telling of the Parzival legend makes obvious that Shaw is a master tale-slinger, but he’s also a superb fisherman in the depths of our collective soul, reeling in wisdom that instructs, often disturbs and hugely nourishes.
He is on familiar terms with the language of magpies and the weaving techniques of spiders; whatever creaturely shape he takes, it’s clear that he’s drunk deep from rivers winding through many of the world’s tangled cultures. Hence his tongue is steeped in tales within tales from traditions near and far. Reading this book we feel ourselves drying our boots ’round a crackling fire burning high in the mountains. The snow has finally stopped falling, lights from a village glimmer way off below, and someone’s antlers are scraping the underside of the moon.” David Abram, author off Becoming Animal and The Spell of the Sensuous
“Martin Shaw has hung around a great deal in the Otherworld. There is woodsmoke and fox fur in his thinking, and a wild mix of courage, stories and troubling ideas – Snowy Tower is a kind of outlaw language.” Robert Bly, author of Iron John
“Martin Shaw’s gift is his unsurpassed ability to bring myth and legend past locked gates and into our hearts. Snowy Tower reveals all the glory and terror of the human condition, showing us the deeper story of our own lives.” Jacob Needleman, author of An Unknown World: Notes on the Meaning of the Earth
“Martin Shaw’s a conjurer, a 13th century troubadour dropped into our midst. Snowy Tower animates a tale from a far-off place and far-off time into vibrant, immediate life. He breathes into his characters a beating pulse, agile speech, and bedazzling wit. Catch him anyway you can.” Eric Utne, Founder, Utne Reader
“In Snowy Tower Martin Shaw gives us Parzival handled with an associative alacrity that yields new insight and a deeper connection to the story’s cultural roots. Beyond the best thinking of individuals, here we find the best thinking of whole cultures. Shaw is a writer in love with the oral tradition. This is a rare voice opening a keen rapport with the wisdom of living myth.” Daniel Deardorff, author of The Other Within