The Widow’s Son Volume: The History of the Early Illuminati (The Historical Illuminatus Chronicles, Volume II), by Robert Anton Wilson
New Falcon Publications, 1561841633, 343 pp., 1985, 2004
The second volume in Wilson’s Historical Illuminatus Chronicles begins in Paris, 1772 and, once again, our hero, Sigismundo Celine, is under siege by unseen conspirators. As he says, ‘Some want me dead, and some are satisfied if I am just buried alive, and you represent the nice, friendly crowd that merely wants to overthrow every government on the planet and make me the Universal Emperor.’ And it’s does appear that ‘being Sigismundo was a dangerous business…People were always trying to kill Sigismundo, or drive him mad, or generally vex him’.
This volume introduces a few new characters, the Irish fisherman Seamus Muadhen, who moves to England in the spirit of revenge and becomes John Moon, only to discover he cannot fulfill his purpose, and instead immigrates elsewhere; as well as a loose band of politically-minded assassins and thieves, among others.
With enough footnotes to rival Weisbecker’s Cosmic Banditos, Wilson annotates with his usual clever tongue in cheek wit, though they tend to leave me somewhat bewildered at times. For example, while I understand that Brian O`Nolan is Myles na gCopaleen, who is also Flann O`Brien; I’m having difficultly with the fact that de Selby may be La Fournier, but is most certainly not La Tournier – or even that he may not have existed at all in the first place, and in fact may bet a part of a conspiracy invented by Brian O`Nolan and Robert Anton Wilson. Then again, for all I know Wilson could be O`Nolan (who is Myles na gCopaleen, Flann O`Brien and possibly de Selby and La Fournier). It can seem a little confusing at times, and much more so at others.
Wilson has a special talent for depicting things exactly as they are shown in a manner which serves only to complicate matters further; it is one of his greatest gifts, and has produced yet another brilliantly fascinating and engaging volume in this chronicle. Highly recommended.