Karl Glogauer

From Michael Moorcock's Wikiverse
Jump to navigationJump to search

An Incarnation of the Eternal Champion.

Behold the Man (novella)

Karl was born in England in 1940 and 2 years after his father’s emigration from Austria, he was in childhood a sensitive boy who was subject to scapegoating by other children at school and to stress migraines (p. 97 (migraines)- Dying for Tomorrow © 1976, 1st DAW printing, 1978). It is suggested that he had a difficult relationship with his anonymous stepmother; it is further suggested that the stepmother suffered from some form of anxiety disorder; no mention is made on the fate of his natural mother (i.e., whether or not she was separated by death or divorce from Karl and his father). In his teens, he was harassed by Teddy Boys because of his German-Jewish surname. By his early 20s, he had become a “neurotic mess” (p. 86 - Dying for Tomorrow © 1976, 1st DAW printing, 1978) according to his girlfriend Monica, and who was described in narration as an “amateur psychiatrist” (p. 86 - Dying for Tomorrow © 1976, 1st DAW printing, 1978) obsessed with the theories and “strange brand of Christian mysticism” of psychologist Carl Jung (pp. 86-87, 94 - Dying for Tomorrow © 1976, 1st DAW printing, 1978); Karl had once planned to be a professional psychiatrist before abandoning the idea after only a year of study. During the course of his studies, he learned Latin and Aramaic.

In his middle twenties, Karl’s father died and bequeathed to him sufficient money to buy the Occult Bookshop across the street from the British Museum. After buying the Bookshop, Karl lent (p. 110 - Dying for Tomorrow © 1976, 1st DAW printing, 1978) a second floor room to a Jungian discussion group — which he promptly thereafter joined—for its weekly Tuesday meetings. It is through this group that Karl meets Sir James Headington and thereby obtains the means to travel backward in time to ascertain the veracity of the origin of the Christ myth.

Behold the Man (novel)

Born in England in 1940 and 2 years after his father’s emigration from Austria and raised in South London by his single, working mother Greta Glogauer after his parents’ separation in 1944 or ‘45, Karl—who was born to a non-practicing Jewish mother and had no siblings—was given a Christian education and thereby taught to iterate prayers several times during the day and night. Karl’s father—whose religion is not described, but given the year of his departure from Austria (and the religion of Karl’s mother) was presumptively Jewish—disappeared from his life after the separation, and the adult Karl was unable to recall any happy childhood memories following his father’s departure from the family unit.

Apparently retaining the family house as part of a divorce settlement, Greta sold it while Karl was still a boy, and thereafter bought and sold a series of South London buildings in which she and Karl resided, causing the pair to relocate frequently during Karl’s boyhood. As might be expected, Karl’s school performance suffered; a sensitive boy, he attended several of them and had difficulties socializing with his peers and concentrating on his studies. At age 9, he was crucified on a schoolyard fence during a prank by bully Mervyn Williams. At age 10, he was made to suffer at the hands of a pair of sadistic children’s summer camp operators, a Mr and Mrs Patrick. His first suicide attempt—a botched hanging—was made at age 15 while he was living with his mother in Streatham, the same age at which he was sexually molested by Mr. Younger, church choir director, and was harassed by Teddy Boys because of his German-Jewish surname. Later, there was a second suicide attempt, involving stove gas, that was prevented by his mother.

In adolescence, he began experiencing stress migraines. During the attacks—apparently as a technique of escaping the pain and stress—he would assume imaginary identities and fantasize stories about those alternative selves (who were invariably anxiety-ridden individuals). Among these characters-within-a-character were Heyst, as adapted from Joseph Conrad’s novel Victory and Zimoniev, a character of Karl’s own invention, who was imagined to be “the Minister in charge of Transport and Telgraphs, with the responsibility of sorting out the chaos of 1918” (p. 73). Notably, during these episodes, “he would lose track completely of his own identity…unless someone came to remind him of who and where he was” (id.).

At age 17, he broke with the Church and school, joined a Celtic mysticism group and had sex with its adult female membership (including Deirdre Thompson), then had a nervous breakdown, then lived briefly in Hamburg and Paris. In Paris, he was introduced to the work of the psychologist Carl Jung, which later became another object of Karl’s obsessions. For a time thereafter, Karl expressed interest in being formally trained in psychology and psychiatry, but he did not follow through with such plans.

At age 20, Karl first encountered Monica, who later became his most important long-standing girlfriend. Their first meeting was a very brief passing that occurred while Karl was an orderly at Darley Grange Mental Hospital and Monica was a psychiatric social worker at the same institution. Shortly thereafter, however, Karl meets Eva at a party thrown in Oxford by Gerard Friedman and they begin dating. Despite Karl’s insistences to her that he would amount to nothing but a self-pitier, Eva saw something redemptive in him, telling him, “You’re like—like Parsifal…You’re looking for the Holy Grail. And you’ll find it” (p. 53). The brief relationship affected Karl differently, and more deeply, than the sexual relationships prior to it, possibly because she had the healthiest mentality of all of his partners up to that time; Eva was his first true love interest.

After Eva breaks from him, Karl goes through a period of drunken dissolution, spending time debating, arguing (and sometimes fighting) with Friedman and his undergraduate friends in pubs. During this period, Karl begins to fixate on Eva’s comment about his finding the Holy Grail; by his early twenties, Karl was, in many ways, unable to disassociate sex from religion (see, e.g., pp. 36-40, 75, 125-26). To try to extricate his friend from a downward spiral, Friedman paid for Karl to take college courses in psychology. The college studies lasted a year before Karl dropped out: “(a)ll he had wanted to do was study Jung and they had insisted on his making a variety of studies” (p. 65). During the course of his studies, Karl learned Latin and Aramaic (p. 127).

In the summer of 1962, while working a series of temporary jobs, Karl again encountered Monica, and this time, the two of them began the 8-year relationship that had a determinant effect on the remainder of Karl’s short life. Concerning the nature of that relationship, Karl thought to himself, “Vampires. We’re quite a pair” (p. 69). Monica teased him about the mildly hallucinatory alternate self episodes that he would experience during his migraines, but Karl—ever the narcissist—was not dissuaded from wondering “at the accretions of other people’s personalities on his own”; drunk in a pub, he once commented, as Monica dragged him out, “’(e)very man’s life diminishes mine’” (p. 74).

When Karl was in his twenties, his father died and bequeathed to him the Mandala Bookshop on Great Russell Street; long before this, Greta has already confirmed to Karl that his father, like him, was interested in mysticism. Combing through the shop’s contents, Karl discovered that his father privately published poetry under the name John Fry. After assuming management of the Mandala, Karl lent a second floor room to a Jungian discussion group—which he promptly thereafter joined—for its weekly meetings. It is through this group that Karl meets Sir James Headington and thereby obtains the means to travel backward in time to ascertain the veracity of the origin of the Christ myth after Monica leaves him for another woman.

Breakfast in the Ruins

The Karl Glogauer featured in Breakfast does not appear to be the same Karl Glogauer who was the principal character in the novel Behold the Man or the Karl Glogauer who appeared in the novella “Behold the Man” in the short story collection Dying for Tomorrow. While all three Glogauers are Jewish Londoners born in the same year as one another—1940—who possess some shared character traits, the familial background, biography and vocational pursuits of the Glogauer in Breakfast are notably distinguishable from the other two. The Glogauer of Breakfast is explicitly presented less as a three-dimensional character than as a fictive device necessary to the presentation of the symbolic images, scenes and events that comprise the novel, whereas the distinguishing structural difference between the novella and novel versions of Behold is found in the novel’s detailed presentation of Karl’s biography and psychological development prior to the young man’s fateful decision to travel through time.

The Breakfast Glogauer describes himself in June 1971 as a painter and illustrator who has made his living “doing military uniforms…for the odd regiment who wants a picture to hang in the mess” (p. 16). Evidently, his customers have been few: on the day that he meets the Nigerian (see below), Karl sits alone, ruminating in the Derry and Toms Gardens on the failure of his childhood ambitions, presenting an appearance of “a slightly seedy looking young man in an old tweed jacket (elsewhere described as “frayed”) and rumpled flannels” (pp. 12-13). It is further noted that Karl’s “spare-time” artwork is done in a more avant-garde mode (p. 16).

At the beginning of the novel’s June 1971 narrative, Karl is depicted as psychologically under-developed for a man in his early thirties who grew up in the suburbs of London (p. 137). Karl’s un-named father abandoned him when he was very young (p. 96), and Karl’s relationships with women are clearly troubled by his egocentrism: he seems to simultaneously dislike and feel guilt for disliking his mother, who he perceives as having been an overly dominant parent; he has gotten 3 girls pregnant because he dislikes the use of condoms during sex, but he has paid for only 1 of 3 abortions himself (pp. 92-93). It is suggested that Karl’s relationship with his mother was poisoned when, as a boy, Karl caught his mother in bed with the local air-raid warden, an event that forced his mother to admit the affair to his father (pp. 35, 39). Karl exhibits obsessive-compulsive traits, such as collecting (i.e., hoarding) children’s books and model soldiers, and chronic ruminations upon his “unstable upbringing” (p. 13) and the influence of his mother on his adult character. His failure to have been accepted into art school—perhaps a Parisian art school—at age 15 also haunts him, and—perhaps in accord with his production of military history paintings—he considers himself a conservative (“I was never very liberal” (p. 55)) (see, e.g., p. 134). He also suffers from chronic migraines that may have a psychosomatic cause (p. 81).

Hewing to his obsessive-compulsive character, Karl routinely visits the Derry and Toms Roof Gardens where he whiles away his time in “infantile…unmanly” escapism (p. 13), inventing imaginary pasts and alternative autobiographies for himself in daydreams.

Halfway House by Peter Crowther

The Karl of “Halfway House” is possessed of a different biography than each of Michael Moorcock’s other Karls. This Karl is disabused in school by authority figures and peers while aspiring to be an astronaut from his early years. His career aspirations are also contrary to the wishes of his parents, who are depicted herein to have remained married to one another well into Karl’s adulthood. Possessed of common piety and confidence, he matures in a conventional, self-assured manner and direction (in contrast to Mr. Moorcock’s Karls), matriculating from school to university, then becoming a pilot in the Royal Air Force until—pursuing a straight-line trajectory toward his boyhood dream—he is provided the opportunity to join NASA’s astronaut academy.

Dragging the Line by Mike Lee

The Karl of “Dragging the Line” has a persona that is a combination of the Karl of BTM and the Karl of BITR at age sixty. Traveling alone through Southern India, the Englishman spends a day with a married pair of young American tourists, Frank and Harriet. During his brief acquaintanceship with the Americans, Karl is described by the husband, as thin, bald, and possibly wearing dentures.

Other Stories

Later a staff member of the Time Centre and member of the Guild of Temporal Adventurers. On duty at the Time Centre in the Silurian (or possibly Lower Devonian) when Jherek Carnelian and Mrs Amelia Underwood were taken there during the events of The End of All Songs.

Appeared in

Mentioned in

Notes