The Mundus

N. H. Pritchard

Edited by Paul Stephens

The Mundus is Norman Pritchard’s magnum opus, a mysterious work that is both visual and poetic, literary and mystical. The work was composed between 1965 until at least July 1971, a six-year period during which the author refined and reworked its pages, seeking out new literary forms alongside personal transcendence. As Pritchard mentions in a letter to Ishmael Reed in 1968, “Literature in and of itself doesn’t seem to have a broad enough scope for me anymore.” Despite its ambitions and grand scope, The Mundus has gone unpublished for over fifty years.

Subtitled “a novel with voices,” The Mundus combines Pritchard’s earlier poetic innovations with his growing interest in theosophy, exploring a spiritual terrain he enigmatically dubbed the transreal. Appropriately, this lost masterpiece represents some of Pritchard’s most challenging work, with the text proceeding in small leaps and sublime fractures, stuttering across the page with sonic and visual momentum as it threads through an immersive, textual mist comprised solely of the letter “o”.

Pritchard found early success with his books The Matrix and EECCHHOOEESS, experimental texts that, in part, bear the imprint of the avant-garde arts, music, and poetry communities of the late 1960s, in particular the Umbra group, a collective of Black poets of which he was a leading member. But The Mundus finds Pritchard at his most radical and revelatory, putting forth a profound act of negation, while it delves readers into a primordial soundscape populated by language’s essential building blocks. An early pillar of Black poetics and a world unto itself, The Mundus must be sounded out not only with the mind, but also with the mouth, body, and soul.

Norman Henry Pritchard was born in New York City in 1939 and studied at New York University and Columbia University. His work has been published in two collections: The Matrix Poems: 1960–1970 (1970) and Eecchhooeess (1971). His poetry was featured in the journals Umbra and The East Village Other, performed on the jazz poetry compilation New Jazz Poets (1967), and anthologized in The New Black Poetry (1969) and In a Time of Revolution: Poems from Our Third World (1969). Pritchard taught poetry at the New School for Social Research and was a poet-in-residence at Friends Seminary. He died in eastern Pennsylvania on February 8, 1996.

5.25 x 8.25 inches
October 2024
ISBN: 9798988573661

Editor: Paul Stephens
Managing Editors: Sam Korman
Designer: We Have Photoshop
Copy Editor: Allison Dubinsky


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