Sunday, November 27, 2022

Five speculative fiction books featuring tarot

Electra Pritchett is a lapsed historian who splits her time between reading, research, and her obsession with birds and parfait. Born in New Jersey, she has lived on three continents and her studies have ranged from ancient Rome to modern Japan.

At she tagged "five works of genre fiction that incorporate the tarot or a tarot analog into the worldbuilding of their novels," including:
Murder Must Advertise by Dorothy L. Sayers

Tarot does not appear directly in the narrative, but some of the major arcana resonate both with the novel’s themes and the themes of the series overall. Sayers’ eighth Lord Peter Wimsey mystery is based on her experiences working in the advertising industry: to catch a murderer, Peter spends almost the whole book undercover, working in an advertising office as Death Bredon. During his investigation, he repeatedly encounters a dissolute group of “bright young things” led by the aristocratic Dian de Momerie, who is usually high out of her mind.

Dian’s ravings about seeing a “hanged man” behind Peter point to the major arcana: she herself can be taken as the Moon, while Peter—in costume as the Harlequin—resonates with the Fool, the protagonist of the major arcana as well as of the novel. On top of that, Peter is closely associated with three cards that follow each other in many decks: Justice, the Hanged Man, and Death. I’ll leave most of these interpretations as an exercise for the reader, but it’s worth nothing that among other things the Hanged Man recalls Wodan, who hung on the tree for nine days and nights, just as Peter takes nine books to become a man in full before he is ready to meet Harriet Vane as an equal in the tenth, Gaudy Night.
Read about another entry on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue