The Eden Revelation
An Evolutionary Novel
Dr. Rhonda Rosenberg
ISBN 978-1-959556-05-3 574 pages $25.00 pbk.
ISBN 978-1-959556-15-2 574 pages $40.00 hdc.
Pub Date: May 12, 2023
In the absence of a conventional narrative, the Rosenbergs make hay of the characters’ ricocheting analyses and revelations. This experiment pays off with dividends.
Publishers Weekly (Starred Review)
The Eden Revelation is...
a startling update of the twentieth century’s novel of ideas, in particular Thomas Mann’s Nobel-winning The Magic Mountain. Where Mann’s characters gave voice to fantasy and psychosis, The Eden Revelation binds us with our evolutionary history: social beings living by the light and darkness of ideas. Our first idea, mythologically, was recorded just outside the Garden of Eden, in an ancient echo of eschatological climate change.
Fortuitously, 2023 marks a century since Magic Mountain’s publication in German. It was focused on themes of personal vs societal illness. Now, in this new novel under distress, the societal trauma has become planet illness, whether expressed by a smart virus, by climate change, or by an angry wind blowing our ur-parents out of Eden. The cultural trauma, however, is a lack of popular knowledge about how evolution works, not only in ecosystem niches but on our psyches.
Today we diagnose extreme fantasies as a trait of the unconscious human mind. Prior to the 1990s, we might have echoed the physical symptoms of TB in Mann’s sanatorium, which offered mountain air and “intellectual entertainment”. Now, when we realize the disease within Eden was carried by a disguised serpent, we’re made aware that fantasy and psychosis are its human equivalent, leading to wars and boundary-erasing animal-to-human transmission of pandemics.
So that this time, in place of Mann’s characters voicing bygone ironies, our original ecosystem—a buried Garden of Eden, where Homo sapiens evolved—is broken into by an archaeologist’s Middle Eastern dig. It is where this novel begins its reckoning with the psychic attachments underlying sexuality.
Archaeologist Archibald Shechner, likewise, hears a singular voice breaking into his head. His colleagues fear a nervous breakdown. The novel itself at times seems to distill into a transcription, as if evolving into a new species of prose testimony. Yet the framework of its characters in search of their lost archaeologist colleague and his ancient scrolls remains firmly narrative. It is anchored in both cultural and natural history, suggesting a hopeful guide for “blind” evolution.
This sweepingly vast and courageous new novel tells of a lost archeologist in ways that radiate out into the great losses of our time. Ten years in the making, The Eden Revelation is a book of epic dimensions, brimming with ideas as it deepens with characters and action. From David and Rhonda Rosenberg, a writer and a research scientist, respectively, in their Eden of the Florida Everglades.
—Grace Schulman, Strange Paradise
A selva-oscura (Dante: ‘Midway through the journey of life/ I found myself in a dark wood,/ with the clear path ahead of me lost…’) of essay, memoir, porn and lyric—and quite a bit of interesting science. I never read anything like it, obviously, nor has anyone else. Although I am a fan of the animations or reanimations of ideas, this Eden teems with so many I flirted with the Rule of St. Benedict.
—Andrei Codrescu, Too Late for Nightmares
…In the absence of a conventional narrative, the Rosenbergs make hay of the characters’ ricocheting analyses and revelations. This experiment pays off with dividends.
—Publishers Weekly (starred review)
[The Rosenbergs] worked on a secluded bench in the UC Berkeley botanical garden. The plants were alive in the manuscript pages I first read, as indeed we learn they do breathe, climbing out of the sea to create ecosystems. The novel’s characters are all in a tizzy about a weird ancient voice in a disturbed colleague’s head, an archaeologist. When transcribed in psychoanalysis, the voice elaborates on an actual source for the Eden story, with the ‘garden’ described as the ecosystem in which humans evolved. All kinds of other info pingpongs among the heavily credentialed characters, whose relationships are shaken and stirred. Although full of poetic history blended with science, it all happens on the surface, like a complex martini. I expect it will go down smooth, with a kick.
—Bill Berkson, Since When
previous books by David Rosenberg
Dreams of Being Eaten Alive:
The Literary Core of the Kabbalah
“Rosenberg’s stunning version brings to English some of the most unnerving and powerful passages in the early cabala, reinstating it as a passionate, enchanting literary text. This is an exciting, discomposing book.”
—Jonathan Wilson, New York Times Book Review
“For Rosenberg, the cabala is about expressing our deepest and wildest fears, especially about sex. His solution is to see the cabala as a way of reading ‘in a more natural or wild way, unconfined by the inhibitions of human culture.’ ”
—Richard Bernstein, New York Times
The Lost Book of Paradise
“Restored by Rosenberg from old manuscripts and ancient longings: a poetic rendering of a paradise stormy with emotional deprivation. In Rosenberg’s paradise, nature is alive, more alive than Adam who longs for Eve, just like fruits and nuts long for bees and bugs. As punishment, the humans write books.” —Andrei Codrescu, “All Things Considered,” NPR
“Filled with the exquisite irony of one who knows how to imperil our simplest notion of belief. He refuses to make it any easier for us than the suspenseful fictions of Borges and Kafka.” —David Shapiro
A breathtaking, direct descendant of Paradise Lost in its wonder, its resonance, its concentration on human life in such a way as to convey eternal worlds beyond human knowledge. A major work. —Grace Schulman
The Book of David
“The immediacy—the sense of contingency and danger--is undeniable, and it carries the thrill of vertigo. As one reads, one imagines the writer smiling
to herself, then pressing down on her scroll. It weds Rosenberg’s translation to the veiled, suppressed subjectivity of the reader, and frees it”.
No reader’s ideas of religion, politics or literature will go unchanged—or unimproved—by this profound, yet always lively work of scholarship and art.” —James Carroll, Boston Globe
“One of those unexpected, exhilarating books that forces you to rethink the nature of the human condition.” —Jay Parini
The Book of J
“The play of language emerges in Rosenberg’s version as it does not in King James.” —Harold Bloom
“J is a pioneer who is uniquely aware of her characters’ psychological complexity.She welds together all the available genres to make a prose poem.” —John Barton, New York Review of Books
“Rosenberg’s innovative translation struggles to re-create J’s distinctive voice, a tone of modulated ironic grandeur, words echoing within words.”
—Edward Hirsch, The New Yorker
Abraham: The First Historical Biography
“This book is thrilling. Rosenberg looks ‘at why the biblical authors needed to create in the way they did.” —London Daily Telegraph
One of the most perceptive triumphs of imagination I have ever had the pleasure to read.” —Carl Rollyson, New York Sun
A Literary Bible
“Audacity and originality. A stunning new translation [‘the best in a century, without a doubt,’ wrote Hayden Carruth in The Nation’] that restores the creativity and poetry of the original text.” —The New Republic
“Bold and deeply meditated.”
—Frank Kermode, New York Times Book Review
See What You Think
“From the uncanny vision of the group birth of John Ashbery’s ‘Self-Portrait in a Convex Mirror” at Kenward Elmslie’s Vermont summer house, to the poet-filled NYU classroom of Harold Bloom, to the Vancouver archive of bp Nichol and his Sumerian cuneiform allusions, back to Eden itself as it is revealed in the Kabbalah, Rosenberg’s trajectory has led him through all the ‘sublime disguises’ that the visionary must assume.”
“Nothing else is like these pieces. There is a certain dream character to them, as when we recognize everyone in the room, except that they are different. As in a transforming mythography, they are the same and not-same. It’s a singular work, an evolved form of memoiristic writing.”
“Quite something to pull off the explication of such complex ideas in the guise of narrative and character.”
“The poet’s job, Rosenberg cautions, is nothing less than to foretell the species’ next move.” —Jack Kimball, Poetry Project Newsletter
Original, persistently stimulating, and entertaining. He has kept the faith with the avant-garde, while transcending its limitations and hermeticisms. A delicious achievement. —Phillip Lopate
A Life in a Poem
“As someone whose scholarly and creative sensibility could never abide the academic, Rosenberg has allowed us to feel the weight of culture and psyche lifted, deciphered.” —Geoffrey Hartman
“The style and voice inimitable, wide-ranging, quite fearless.”
“Best Prose: This is one of the great minds of our time. This is the book you were waiting for to fill in those islands of thought you’d abandoned”.
—Grace Cavalieri, Washington Independent Review of Books
“Rosenberg has been for some years a poet to watch, even to contend with. For more than a decade, his work has grown in in assurance and bravery, learning its own lilt and tone and expansiveness. Then he seemed to change. He didn’t change, but he seemed to change. His poetry took on ancient spirit in the powerful idiom of modern American discoveries. Not only Whitman was his guide—I hear Pound, Williams, Zukofsky, Black Mountain, H.D.: all of them modernist American poets. Rosenberg gives himself over to Job as a man in his own time and space, but brings with him for speech the refinements and inventions that have developed in more than a century of American poems.”
“Job’s penetrating inquiries into the mysteries of human tragedy here find an exciting poetic voice. Mr. Rosenberg is a considerable poet.”
—Anthony Burgess, New York Times Book Review
Blues of the Sky
“With more courage than most poets now could even imagine, Rosenberg has made psalms that are genuine contemporary poems, yet still embedded in the ancient Hebrew sources.”
—Hayden Carruth, Harpers
“Moving and full of skill. Rosenberg has made it sing.”
—Bill Zavatsky, New York Times Book Review
David Rosenberg is the coauthor and editor of the NYT bestsellers The Book of J (with Harold Bloom) and Congregation. He has a Guggenheim for nonfiction, a PEN prize for A Poet’s Bible, a Hopwood Special Award in poetry, a Canada Council grant, etc. Born in Detroit, dual nationality since 1981, Israeli-American, he and Rhonda have lived since the ‘90s in Miami, within proximity of the Everglades.
Rhonda Rosenberg, born in Houston, is research associate professor at FIU. She has coauthored more than fifty peer-reviewed papers and completed many NIH grants in HIV research. With her husband, she was co-founder of Field Bridge, a think tank in translating ecosystem science into the cultural arts. She has also collaborated on several books about ancient biblical history and poetics.