I finished Figures of Earth over the weekend. I have to say that I find Cabell’s view of women less perceptive than it might have been, to put it mildly. And the episodic story is maybe one or two episodes longer than it needs to be. I suspect I’d be happier with the structure if the four main women in Manuel’s life — Alianora, Freydis, Niafer, and Suskind — were somehow trimmed to three, though I don’t know which of them Cabell could have eliminated. Still, in spite of some faults, it’s a great book, and with a real kick in the last few paragraphs.
A favorite passage of mine, in which Manuel asks about the words on the coat of arms of the land he has just been given:
“Mundus decipit, Count,” they told him, “is the old pious motto of Poictesme: it signifies that the affairs of this world are a vain fleeting show, and that terrestrial appearances are nowhere of any particular importance.”
“Then your motto is green inexperience,” said Manuel, “and for me to bear it would be black ingratitude.”
So the writing had been changed in accordance with his instructions, and it now read Mundus vult decipi.