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Behold the Man  
Behold the man.jpg
Dust-jacket from the first edition
Author Michael Moorcock
Cover artist Gabi Nasemann
Country United Kingdom
Language English
Genre(s) Science fiction novel
Publisher Allison & Busby
Publication date 1969
Media type Print (Hardback & Paperback)
Pages 144 pp
ISBN 0-85031-004-0
OCLC Number 47258
Dewey Decimal 823/.9/14
LC Classification PZ4.M8185 Be PR6063.O59

Behold the Man (1969) is a science fiction novel by Michael Moorcock. It originally appeared as a novella in a 1966 issue of New Worlds; later, Moorcock produced an expanded version which was first published in 1969 by Allison & Busby.[1].

In the novel, Moorcock weaves an existentialist tale about Karl Glogauer, a man who travels from the year 1970 in a time machine to 28 A.D., where he hopes to meet the historical Jesus of Nazareth.

Contents

Plot summary

The story begins with Karl's violent arrival in the Holy Land of A.D. 28, where his time machine, a womblike, fluid-filled sphere, cracks open and becomes useless. By interpolating numerous memories and flashbacks, Moorcock tells the parallel story of Karl's troubled past in 20th century London, and tries to explain why he's willing to risk everything to meet Jesus. We learn that Karl has chronic problems with women, homosexual tendencies, an interest in the ideas of Jung, and many neuroses, including a messiah complex.

Karl, badly injured during his journey, crawls halfway out of the time machine, then faints. John the Baptist and a group of Essenes find him there, and take him back to their community, where they care for him for some time. Since the Essenes witnessed his miraculous arrival in the time machine, John decides Karl must be a magus, and asks him to help lead a revolt against the occupying Romans. When he asks Karl to baptise him, however, he panics and flees into the desert, where he wanders alone, hallucinating from heat and thirst.

He then makes his way to Nazareth in search of Jesus. When he finds Mary and Joseph, Mary turns out to be little more than a whore, and Joseph, a bitter old man, sneers openly at her claim to have been impregnated by an angel. Worse, their child Jesus is a profoundly retarded hunchback who incessantly repeats the only word he knows: Jesus, Jesus, Jesus. Karl, however, is so deeply committed to the idea of a real, historical Jesus that, at this point, he himself begins to step into the role, gathering followers, repeating what parables he can recall, and using psychological tricks to simulate miracles. When there's no food, he shows the people how to pretend to eat to take their minds off their hunger; when he encounters illness caused by hysteria, he cures it. Gradually, it becomes known that his name is Jesus of Nazareth.

In the end, determined to live the story of Jesus to its decidedly bitter end, he orders a puzzled Judas to betray him to the Romans, and dies on the cross. His last, agonized words, however, are not Eloi, eloi, lama sabachthani, but the phonetically similar English it's a lie....it's a lie...let me down...

After Karl's death on the cross, the body is stolen by a doctor who believed the body had magical properties, leading to rumors that he did not die. The doctor is disappointed when the body begins to rot as any normal human would.

Cover of a reprint edition

Discussion

The title derives from the Gospel of John, Chapter 19, Verse 5: "Then Jesus came out, wearing the crown of thorns and the purple robe. And Pilate said to them Behold the Man."

Moorcock's portrait of "The Man" is, to say the least, unusual: he's a confirmed neurotic, he's something of a slacker, and his religious and sexual impulses tend to intermingle. He frequently feels inwardly compelled to fulfill the expectations of others - even, eventually, to the extent of becoming Jesus for them. As he prepares to live out the Passion, he thinks of something his girlfriend, Monica, said when he staged a phony suicide attempt for her benefit: God, Karl, what you'll do for attention. When he's crucified, the erotic associations the cross has for him at first give him an erection; later, he begs to be taken down. Despite his many flaws, however, Karl's suffering and self-doubt, together with his earnest quest for enlightenment, make him a sympathetic character.

Moorcock addresses the philosophical question of whether or not the historical Jesus need actually have existed. Must something really happen historically for the myth surrounding it to be meaningful? Which is more important, legend or history? This question obsesses Karl, who frequently quarrels about it with Monica, an embittered psychiatrist who puts all her faith in science. Monica tries to persuade Karl that the Christ myth is nothing but "morbid nonsense", and voices most of the better-known atheist arguments to support her position. Karl, however, insists that there must be something more to it, and eventually martyrs himself to this belief.

Karl Glogauer, in a slightly different incarnation, is the lead character in Breakfast in the Ruins, and also appears elsewhere in Moorcock's work. (In The Dancers at the End of Time, a similar time machine is used, which reveals that if a time traveller dies in the past, he is violently thrust back to the future, thus explaining Glogauer's reappearance.) Compared to the active, dynamic "J.C." characters (Jerry Cornell, Jherek Carnelian, Jerry Cornelius), Glogauer is passive, self-loathing, and introverted. When he decides to becomes Jesus, however - the ultimate "J.C." - his former personality temporarily vanishes, only to return with a vengeance during his final hours.

The issue of New Worlds containing the original novella

Awards and nominations

Behold the Man won the Nebula Award for best novella in 1967.

Footnotes

References

External links

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Behold the Man  
Author Michael Moorcock
Cover artist Gabi Nasemann
Country United Kingdom
Language English
Genre(s) Science fiction novel
Publisher Allison & Busby
Publication date 1969
Media type Print (Hardback & Paperback)
Pages 144 pp
ISBN 0-85031-004-0
OCLC Number 47258
Dewey Decimal 823/.9/14
LC Classification PZ4.M8185 Be PR6063.O59

Behold the Man (1969) is a science fiction novel by Michael Moorcock. It originally appeared as a novella in a 1966 issue of New Worlds; later, Moorcock produced an expanded version which was first published in 1969 by Allison & Busby.[1]. The title derives from the Gospel of John, Chapter 19, Verse 5: "Then Jesus came out, wearing the crown of thorns and the purple robe. And Pilate said to them Behold the Man."

In the novel, Moorcock weaves an existentialist tale about Karl Glogauer, a man who travels from the year 1970 in a time machine to 28 A.D., where he hopes to meet the historical Jesus of Nazareth.

Contents

Plot summary

The story begins with Karl's violent arrival in the Holy Land of A.D. 28, where his time machine, a womblike, fluid-filled sphere, cracks open and becomes useless. By interpolating numerous memories and flashbacks, Moorcock tells the parallel story of Karl's troubled past in 20th century London, and tries to explain why he's willing to risk everything to meet Jesus. We learn that Karl has chronic problems with women, homosexual tendencies, an interest in the ideas of Jung, and many neuroses, including a messiah complex.

Karl, badly injured during his journey, crawls halfway out of the time machine, then faints. John the Baptist and a group of Essenes find him there, and take him back to their community, where they care for him for some time. Since the Essenes witnessed his miraculous arrival in the time machine, John decides Karl must be a magus, and asks him to help lead a revolt against the occupying Romans. When he asks Karl to baptise him, however, the latter panics and flees into the desert, where he wanders alone, hallucinating from heat and thirst.

He then makes his way to Nazareth in search of Jesus. When he finds Mary and Joseph, Mary turns out to be little more than a whore, and Joseph, a bitter old man, sneers openly at her claim to have been impregnated by an angel. Worse, their child Jesus is a profoundly retarded hunchback who incessantly repeats the only word he knows: Jesus, Jesus, Jesus. Karl, however, is so deeply committed to the idea of a real, historical Jesus that, at this point, he himself begins to step into the role, gathering followers, repeating what parables he can recall, and using psychological tricks to simulate miracles. When there's no food, he shows the people how to pretend to eat to take their minds off their hunger; when he encounters illness caused by hysteria, he cures it. Gradually, it becomes known that his name is Jesus of Nazareth.

In the end, determined to live the story of Jesus to its decidedly bitter end, he orders a puzzled Judas to betray him to the Romans, and dies on the cross. His last, agonized words, however, are not Eloi, eloi, lama sabachthani, but the phonetically similar English it's a lie....it's a lie...let me down...

After Karl's death on the cross, the body is stolen by a doctor who believed the body had magical properties, leading to rumors that he did not die. The doctor is disappointed when the body begins to rot as any normal human would.

References to other Moorcock works

Karl Glogauer, in a slightly different incarnation, is the lead character in Breakfast in the Ruins. In The Dancers at the End of Time, a similar time machine is used, which reveals that if a time traveller dies in the past, he is violently thrust back to the future, thus explaining Glogauer's reappearance.)

containing the original novella]]

Awards and nominations

Behold the Man won the Nebula Award for best novella in 1967.

Footnotes

References

External links


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