On April 17, 1912 -- ironically, only two days after the sinking of the "Titanic" -- a figure known only as Pilgrim tries to commit suicide by hanging himself from a tree. When he is found five hours later, his heart miraculously begins to beat again. Pilgrim, it seems, can never die. Escorted by his beloved friend, Lady Symbol Quartermaine, Pilgrim is admitted to the famous Burgholzu Psychiatrist Clinic In Zurichm, where he will begin a battle of psyche and soul with Carl Jung, the self-professed mystical scientist of the unconscious Slowly, Jung coaxes Pilgrim to tell his astonishing story -- one that seemingly spans 4,000 years and includes such historical figures as Leonardo da Vinci and Henry James. But is Pilgrim delusional? Are these his memories merely dreams...or is his immortal existence truly a miracle.
First Chapter or Excerpt
Pilgrim Chapter One Inside the front doors of the Burgholzli Psychiatric Clinic in Zurich, a nurse named Dora Henkel and an orderly whose name was Kessler were waiting to greet a new patient and his companion. Their arrival had been delayed by a heavy fall of snow. To Kessler it seemed that two wind-blown angels had tumbled down from heaven and were moving towards the steps. The figures of these angels now stood in momentary disorientation, reaching out with helpless arms towards one another through windy clouds of snow, veils, shawls and scarves that altogether gave the appearance of large unfolded wings. At last they caught hold of one another's hands and the female angel led the male' whose height was quite alarming' beneath the portico and up the steps. Dora Henkel and Kessler moved to open the doors to the vestibule, only to be greeted by a gale of what seemed to be perfumed snow. It was nothing of the kind, of course' but it seemed so. The female angel--Sybil, Lady Quartermaine--had a well-known passion for scent. She would not have dreamt of calling it perfume. Flowers and spices are perfumed, she would say. Persons are scented. For a moment, it seemed that her male companion might be blind. He stood in the vestibule staring blankly, still maintaining his angel image--six-foot-six of drooping shoulders, lifeless arms and wings that at last had folded. His scarves and high-necked overcoat, pleated and damp, were hanging draped on his attenuated body as if at any moment they might sigh and slip to the marble floor. Lady Quartermaine was younger than expected--not by any means the dowager Marchioness she had seemed in her rigid demands and almost military orders' issued by cablegrams five and six times a day, to be delivered by Consulate lackeys. In the flesh, she could not have been more than forty--if that--and was possessed of a presence that radiated charm and beauty with every word and gesture. Dora Henkel instantly fell in love with her and, in some confusion, had to turn away because Lady Quartermaine's beauty had made her blush. Turning back, she bobbed in the German fashion before she spoke. "Most anxious we have been for your journey, Lady Quartermaine," she said, and smiled--perhaps with too much ingratiation. Kessler moved towards the inner doors and pulled them open' stepping aside to let the new arrivals pass. He would call this day forevermore the day the angels fell. He, too, had been smitten by Lady Quartermaine and her romantic entry with a giant in her wake. In the entrance hall' an efficient figure in a white coat came forward. "I am Doctor Furtwangler, Lady Quartermaine. How do you do?" She offered her hand, over which he bowed. Josef Furtwangler prided himself on his "bedside manner"-- in all its connotations. His well-practised smile, while popular with his patients, was suspect amongst his colleagues. Turning to the figure beside her, Lady Quartermaine said: "Herr Doktor, ich will Ihnen meinen Freund Herrn Pilgrim vorstellen. " Furtwangler saw the apprehension in his new patient's eyes. "Perhaps, Lady Quartermaine," he said' "for the sake of your friend' we should continue in English. You will find that most of us in the Burgholzli speak it fluently--including many of the patients." He moved forward' smiling, with his hand extended. "Mister Pilgrim. Welcome." Pilgrim stared at the proffered hand and rejected it. He said nothing. Lady Quartermaine explained. "He is silent, Herr Doktor. Mute. This has been so ever since ... he was found." "Indeed. It is not unusual." The Doctor gave Pilgrim an even friendlier smile and said: "will you come into the reception room. There's a fire, and we will have some coffee." Pilgrim glanced at Lady Quartermaine. She nodded and took his hand. "We would be delighted," she said to Furtwangler. "A cup of good Swiss coffee is just what the doctor ordered." She gave an amused shrug. "Which way do we go?" "Please, come with me." Furtwangler flicked his fingers at Dora Henkel, who scurried off to the dining-room across the entrance hall to arrange the refreshments while Kessler stood by, trying his best not to look like a bodyguard. Lady Quartermaine led Pilgrim forward. "All is well"' she told him. "All is well. We have safely arrived at our destination and soon you will rest." She slipped her arm through his. "How very glad I am to be with you, my dear. How very glad I am I came." Pilgrim . Copyright © by Timothy Findley. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold. Excerpted from Pilgrim by Timothy Findley All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.