The Masters of Atlantis (Paperback)

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I was under the flat impression that Charles Portis was primarily a writer of westerns, most famously True Grit. As it so often happens, I was grossly mistaken. Masters of Atlantis, one of several Portis-penned novels reissued recently by Overlook Press, tells the story of the Gnomon Society, a fictional secret society based on the esoteric teachings of the sunken city Atlantis along with the higher truths of the universe told through complex triangles and Pythagorean exegeses. But this is not a novel about mathematics -- rather, Masters of Atlantis is about the oddball origins of the brotherhood, its wacky founders and brethren, and the things they get themselves into, all in the name of Gnomonism. It isn't, however, heavy-handed, highfalutin', or overly thoughtout. Written in superb deadpan with absurdist, black humor, Masters of Atlantis is simply one big comic invention and a true pleasure to read. It can go everywhere and nowhere at the same time. It can have a character whose name changes three, perhaps four, times in the first page and a half. And it doesn't have to make any large statement other than this: "I'm fun and you'll like me." -- Geo Ong

— From July 2011


Masters of Atlantis is a cock-eyed journey into an America of misfits and con-men, oddballs, and innocents by one of America's most respected novelists.

Lamar Jimmerson is the leader of the Gnomon Society, the international fraternal order dedicated to preserving the arcane wisdom of the lost city of Atlantis. Stationed in France in 1917, Jimmerson comes across a little book crammed with Atlantean puzzles, Egyptian riddles, and extended alchemical metaphors. It's the Codex Pappus - the sacred Gnomon text. Soon he is basking in the lore of lost Atlantis, convinced that his mission on earth is to administer to and extend the ranks of the noble brotherhood.

About the Author

Charles Portis (b. December 28, 1933, d. February 17, 2020) lived in Arkansas, where he was born and educated. He served in the Marine Corps during the Korean War, was the London bureau chief of the New York Herald-Tribune, and was a writer for The New Yorker. He was the author of five novels: Norwood, The Dog of the South, Masters of Atlantis, True Grit, and Gringos.
Product Details
ISBN: 9781585670215
ISBN-10: 1585670219
Publisher: The Overlook Press
Publication Date: March 1st, 2000
Pages: 320
Language: English