The Language of Paradise

Written by Barbara Klein Moss
Review by Mary F. Burns

This novel requires a new genre: Literary-Philosophical-Historical might be a start. The premise is intriguing and esoteric: against the background of early to mid-19th century Utopian idealism, a young scholar becomes obsessed with discovering (uncovering) the actual language spoken by Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. In his longing to re-create “paradise,” he is drawn in – and draws others in – to a world at odds with convention and common, human love and life.

Metaphor becomes reality as Gideon meets Sophia, the daughter of a preacher with the same scholarly bent as Gideon. The quest for the first language – which when spoken, was as one with the object spoken about (as at the Creation) – flings all the characters into the well-known wind of biblical proportions, the one whose harvest is the whirlwind. When this nouveaux Adam and Eve meet their “serpent,” idealism and ambition struggle with reality to sort out the insidious complications and dubious, daring experiments devised to reveal the lost words of Eden. This is an entrancing, deep, troubling and daring story of the human spirit bound to earth, dispossessed of Paradise, and longing to return. It is so compelling I actually dreamed it at night. Highly recommended.