Wednesday, 16 October 2013

Astrologer Wins Top Literary Prize

Oh how we love Eleanor Catton, winner of this year's Man Booker Prize for Fiction. Her massive historical novel The Luminaries boggled the judges minds. How did she structure it? Using proper, grown up astrology.

Twelve characters are based on the signs of the Zodiac, and seven on the planets – but that's not all. Here is what she said in an interview about the book - before it started garnering so much attention

“I previously had a rudimentary understanding of how astrology works. But I became really taken with the idea that what it is fundamentally about is there is no truth except for truth in relation: nothing is objectively true, something is only true compared to something else.”

According to this interview for We Love This Book, she discovered a “triple conjunction in Sagittarius” had taken place at the time she planned to set the novel. “As I tracked it over the year, I could see that certain planets were following each other and it set me to thinking about how I could put that into a story. Mercury, which is a planet that governs reason, was following just behind all the other players of the action. So I could build this narrative that the person who is trying to unravel the mysteries is one step behind it all.”
Birth time unknown

“It sounds a bit mad, I know. Astrology started off as an intellectual curiosity but it has become something more and I’ve gotten slightly obsessed. This is my first interview for the book and I’ve been wondering how much I should talk about astrology without sounding crazy. And I’ve been forbidden from talking about astrology by many of the people in my personal life.”

Eleanor, we know what you mean; you can come talk to us any time – and there are some pretty excellent astrologers in New Zealand too.

You're wondering about her chart. Well, she's the youngest ever winner of the prize, at the magic age of 28 - yes she is approaching a Saturn Return. What I really like though is Pallas Athena, the astrologer's asteroid in Gemini, the sign of the story-teller, opposite Neptune – imagination.

When she won the prize, the Moon-Neptune conjunction was opposing her natal Venus-Mars in Virgo, the novelist's sign - that's pretty lucky, but it also speaks of being swept up in a tidal wave of glamour and publicity. Mars, the planet of action, had moved into Virgo on the day and was conjuncting that Venus too. She is going to be super busy next year as Mars spends a full six month's in her Sun sign.

Thanks for coming out about the astrology, Eleanor and congratulations. Now we're all rushing out to buy your book.

Other authors that we know of who can draw up a chart? JK Rowling, and according to my sources, Margaret Atwood, a previous Booker winner.

15 comments:

  1. Christina, thank you for your generous spirit. Every morning I look forward to opening your blog and being surprised by a keen insight, fresh perspective or, as today, the grace note of being introduced to another author. (btw, I couldn't get Jay Griffith's Wild from my library, but I found A Sideways Look at Time -- wow!)
    You are a true maven.

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  2. Even the cover with the phases of the moon...love it. Thanks Christina...xo

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  3. Only two other award winning novelists that can draw up a chart? I know many authors who can draw a chart and use astrology to create their characters and stories, myself included. I'm appalled that Ms.Catton feels "a bit mad" to admitting she used astrology, and is "forbidden from talking about astrology." Can we really associate her admission to using astrology for her novel as - Coming Out? LOL!

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    1. People can be pretty horrible about astrology -- especially establishment types. In this country anyway, the general discourse about astrology is that it's either for charlatans or fools. I've written a post about it somewhere on here and I do think that declaring yourself an astrologer comes with some difficult baggage, so yes, it is coming out for some of us.

      I would love to have a list of authors who use astrology to help build their characters. That wasn't meant to be a definitive list, just a couple I can think of. Can you share?

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    2. Also this is not just any prize. It's the British equivalent of, say, the Pulitzer.

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  4. Is she a writer who uses astrology too - or has she become an astrologer while writing this book ?

    mimi

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    1. I think the former. This book is structured around astrology.

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  5. I've just held the thing. Not for reading in the bath...

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  6. I think it's wonderful and the book's wonderful (and your post Christina). I agree, she's building a bridge where there was none. Have just finished the book, it's a terrific read, the characters & story are vivid and it gallops along. I was fascinated by her interpretation of the characters or situations via the astrological placements. She made a lot of really interesting observations.

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    1. I was thinking about this again today. I'd be jumping the gun to say "astrology goes mainstream" but it's a step in the right direction, as you say building a bridge where the was none before. I like that.

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  7. Fabulous! I'll buy it formy ever sceptical BF for xmas.lol!

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  9. Re authors and astrology - C. S. Lewis (29th November 1898) was fascinated by medieval astrology and regarded the 7 traditional planets as 'spiritual symbols of permanent value.' There's a book called 'Planet Narnia' by the Rev. Dr. Michael Ward that explores how each of the seven Narnia books reflects each planet's essence. And I know that P L Travers used astrological guidance, and may have studied astrology since she studied a number of mystical disciplines and would have been open to exploring it. I've always seen Mary Poppins as the archetypal Virgo! Anyway, a fuller list would certainly be fascinating to explore. Now that Neptune is in Pisces perhaps it's time for astrology to find a more meaningful place in popular consciousness?

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