Excerpt from The Meaning of Night by Michael Cox, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

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The Meaning of Night

A Confession

By Michael Cox

The Meaning of Night
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  • Hardcover: Sep 2006,
    672 pages.
    Paperback: Oct 2007,
    704 pages.

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I rebuked her gently for her scruples, telling her that it was folly – and worse – to believe that we do not merit our good fortune, especially if it is ours by right. She kissed me and pulled me close; but I felt suddenly abandoned and alone. For was I not also an heir, and to a far greater kingdom than hers? Yet my inheritance had been taken from me, and could never now be reclaimed. This was hard enough to bear; but, through a considered act of betrayal, I had sustained an even greater loss, which had left me bereft of all hope of recovery. It is trite to speak of a broken heart. Hearts are not broken; they continue to beat, the blood still courses, even in the bitter after-days of betrayal. But something is broken when pain beyond words is suffered; some connection that formerly existed with light and hope and bright mornings is severed, and can never be restored.

I longed to throw off the habit of deceit, and this smiling mask of carelessness I wore to conceal the rage that foamed and boiled beneath. But I could not tell Bella the truth about myself, or why I had been driven to kill a stranger that night in Cain-court. For she had been the one sweet constant in my life through a storm of trouble and danger of which she had been unaware; and she, too, had been betrayed, though she did not know it. I had already lost her. Yet I could not let her go – not quite yet – nor confess to her what I am now confessing to you, my unknown reader.

But one person knows what I cannot tell Bella. And soon he will also come to know how resourceful I can be.   



[1] [An introduction to a treatise or discourse. Ed.]
[2] [A well-known fish and sea-food eating-place in the Haymarket. Ed.]
[3] [Nathaniel Wanley (1634–80). The book was first published in 1678. The subtitle reads: ‘A general history of man: In six books. Wherein by many thousands of examples is shewed what man hath been from the first ages of the world to these times … Collected from the writings of the most approved historians, philosophers, physicians, philologists and others.’ Ed.]
[4] [Henry Colburn (d. 1855), the publisher and founder of the Literary Gazette. Ed.]
[5] [The French orientalist Antoine Galland (1646–1715) made the first Western translation of The Thousand and One Nights, published in twelve volumes between 1704 and 1717 as Les Mille et une Nuits. It was a great success and was followed by several other European translations, including the first English rendering of Galland’s text, published anonymously 1706–8 and known as the ‘Grub Street version’. This is the version referred to by the narrator. The translation was both defective and dull, but it inspired successive generations of English readers up to and including the Romantic poets. Ed.]
[6] [Waterloo Bridge was known as the ‘Bridge of Sighs’ because of the number of suicides who had leaped to their deaths from it. Ed.]
[7] [From John Donne, ‘Elegie XIX: To his Mistris Going to Bed’. Ed.]
[8] [Boodle’s, a gentleman’s club of a semi-political character at 28 St James’s Street; White’s (originally White’s Chocolate House, established towards the end of the seventeenth century), was another celebrated club-house at 37 and 38 St James’s Street. Ed.]
 [9] [An adjective carrying the meaning of licentious or lewd, deriving from Cyprus, an island famed for the worship of Aphrodite. Ed.]

Excerpted from The Meaning of the Night, copyright (c) 2006 by Michael Cox. Reproduced with permission of the publisher, W.W.Norton and Company. All rights reserved

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