Jurgen, A Comedy of Justice  

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

Jurgen, A Comedy of Justice is a 1919 fantasy book by James Branch Cabell - the eighth among some fifty-two books written by this author - which gained fame (or notoriety, in the view of some) shortly after its publication.

The eponymous hero, who considers himself a "monstrous clever fellow", embarks on a journey through ever more fantastic realms, even to hell and heaven. Everywhere he goes, he winds up seducing the local women, even the Devil's wife.

The novel was denounced by the New York Society for the Suppression of Vice; they attempted to bring a prosecution for obscenity. The case went on for two years before Cabell and his publishers won: the "indecencies" were double entendres that also had a perfectly decent interpretation, though it appeared that what had actually offended the prosecution most was a joke about papal infallibility.

Cabell took an author's revenge: the revised edition of 1926 included a previously "lost" passage in which the hero is placed on trial by the Philistines, with a large dung-beetle as the chief prosecutor. He also wrote a short book, Taboo, in which he thanks John H. Sumner and the Society for Suppression of Vice for generating the publicity that gave his career a boost.

Robert A. Heinlein self-consciously patterned his best-known novel, Stranger in a Strange Land, after Jurgen, and the title and themes of his 1984 novel Job: A Comedy of Justice also show Cabell's influence.

Aleister Crowley dubbed it one of the "epoch-making masterpieces of philosophy" in 1929.



Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Jurgen, A Comedy of Justice" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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