Tuesday, April 29, 2014

First Chapter First Paragraph Tuesday Intro - The Sibyl

Every Tuesday, Diane at Bibliophile by the Sea posts the opening of a book . Visit her site to see what others are reading.

I just started a reread of the last book I read in college 3x years ago.  I was talking a class on Ancient Greek life and culture (one of those "I'm graduating, let's have fun" classes), and the book was The Sibyl, by Pär Lagerkvist.  It won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1951 and it is about a woman who becomes the pythia (or sibyl) at Delphi.  She is the oracle through which the god Apollo speaks.

I remember loving the book, but I lost my copy shortly after graduation and only recently found another copy.

Here is how it opens.

In a little house on the mountain slopes above Delphi lived an old woman with her witless son. The house consisted of a single room; one wall was the mountain side itself, and always dripped with moisture.  It was really not a house at all, but a ramshackle hut which herdsmen built for themselves.  It stood quite alone away up in the wild mountain, high above the buildings of the city and above the sacred precincts of the temple. The woman seldom left the house, her son never. He sat within, in the half-light, smiling to himself as he had always done; he was now well into middle age and his lank hair had begun to turn gray. But his face was untouched; it was as it had always been, without any real features in its beardless, downy childishness, only that queer, perpetual smile. The old woman's face was furrowed and austere, and swarthy, as if it had been touched by fire; her eyes had the looks of eyes that have seen god.

It's a short book, only 154 pages, and I'm already almost half done with it.  It is as good as I remember. Interesting, poetic, frustrating, moving, thought-provoking.


  1. Re-reading old favorites can be dangerous. :-) I am glad this one is living up to your memory of it. From the intro, it sounds like something I might like.

  2. Love the intro. I would pick it up!

    Here is my intro/teaser post!

  3. There are several books that spoke to me in high school/college that I would love to reread and see how they strike me now. This one sounds pretty interesting... glad it's as good as you remembered.

  4. I love the intro and would keep reading. Thanks for joining us this week.

  5. I had never heard of this one but it sounds like something that I would really like.

    At only 154 pages it seems that this could have had the potential for a much longer story.