Piers Russinol

From The Library at Hurtfew
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Piers Russinol is the author of the intriguingly-titled Seven Doors and Forty-two Keys, a book of magic in the possession of Gilbert Norrell at his library at Hurtfew. It is one of the books transformed into a raven by John Uskglass, when for an instant he responds to the importuning of Norrell and Strange to reveal himself to them[66]. After he departs the books in the library, though greatly disordered by their brief transformation into birds, resume their normal form. To verify they are undamaged and unchanged Strange picks one from the floor at random and reads from it to Norrell. The book he chooses is the Russinol and the passage he reads is:

"...and there you will find a strange country like a chessboard, where alternates barren rock with fruitful orchards, wastes of thorns with fields of bearded corn, water meadows with deserts. And in this country, the god of magicians, thrice-great Hermes, has set a guard upon every gate and every bridge: in one place a ram, in another place a serpent..."[66]

From this extract it is unclear what Russinol is attempting to describe: more about the Graeco-Egyptian deity to whom he refers, however, Hermes Trismegistus, can be found here.

Coincidently, 'Rossignol' (with an o and a g) is a French word meaning nightingale. Phonetically there is very little to distinguish Russ from Ross.
Knowing Mrs Clarke's virtuosity, the name is not chosen at random: a nightingale changing into a raven is just too pretty an image.
There are many references to nightingales in literature, but even then a tranforming nightingale is pretty rare; Homer (the poet) evokes the nightingale in the Odyssey, suggesting the myth of Philomela and Procne (one of whom, depending on the myth's version, is turned into a Nightingale), the myth of which can be found here.
During the Romantic era poets viewed the nightingale not only as a poet in his own right, but as “master of a superior art that could inspire the human poet”. Something Norrell would want to see happening to Strange.