Marginalia on Casanova: St. Orpheus Breviary I by Miklós Szentkuthy

By Miklós Szentkuthy

Marginalia on Casanova, the 1st quantity of the St. Orpheus Breviary, is Miklos Szentkuthy's synthesis of 2,000 years of ecu tradition. St. Orpheus is Szentkuthy's Virgil, an omniscient, poet who publications us now not via hell, yet via all of recorded historical past, fantasy, faith, and literature, albeit reimagined as St. Orpheus metamorphosizes himself into kings, popes, saints, tyrants, and artists. immediately pagan and Christian, Greek and Hebrew, Asian and ecu, St. Orpheus is a mosaic of historical past and mankind in a single supra-person and veil, an unending sequence of mask and personae, humanity in its protean, futural form, an consistently altering functionality of discourse, textual content, fable, & mentalite. via St. Orpheus' strategy, disparate moments of historical past develop into synchronic, are juggled to bare, satirically, their mutual distinction and crucial similarity. "Orpheus wandering within the infernal regions," says Szentkuthy, "is the perennial image of the brain misplaced amid the enigmas of truth. the purpose of the paintings is, at the one hand, to symbolize the truth of heritage with the maximum attainable precision, and at the different, to teach, in the course of the mutations of the ecu spirit, the entire uncertainties of contemplative guy, the transiency of feelings and the sterility of philosophical systems." Marginalia on Casanova relives the despiritualization of the most protagonist's sensual adventures, notwithstanding it's much less his intercourse lifestyles & extra his highbrow challenge, the only determinant of his being, that's the focal point of this mesmeric ebook. via his personal glittering institutions and largely spanning array of metaphors, Szentkuthy analyses and perspectives the 18th century and its idea of homogeneity from the vantage aspect of the twentieth century, with the complete armor of somebody who used to be, probably, one of many final Hungarian Europeans. whereas a observation on Casanova's memoirs, it's also Szentkuthy's own philosophy of affection. ardour, playfulness, irony, and a complete gamut of protean metamorphoses are what signify Marginalia on Casanova, a piece within which readers will adventure either profundity and a taking to wing of essay-writing that's intellectually radiant and that's as sensual and provocative as a gondola journey with Casanova.

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Since large dowries were customary, it was not at all unusual in the Liibeck of Buddenlwooks that first cousins married each other lest the money be lost to the family. Thus, Bob Hagenstrom becomes engaged to Zerline Hagenstrom, daughter of his uncle Moritz. The disastrous marriage between Consul Justus Kroger and his wife, Rosalie, ·who have not spoken to each other for years, becomes a leitmotif of the book. Only two couples seem to deviate from the norm. The marriage of Johann's half-brother, Gotthold, to Demoiselle Stiiwing is called "a love match," and Gotthold dies in the arms of his good-natured but not very intelligent wife.

To Hanno Buddenbrook music is the source and the focus of his sexual drives. Like his mother he pours all his suppressed sensuality into music. With the precocity and early disillusionment which is peculiar to many of the children in Mann's works, he seems thoroughly familiar with the pleasures of sex of which he has never partaken. There are two scenes which show Hanno at the small organ, indulging in musical fantasies. They are too long to be quoted here, but the careful reader will discover that they are accurate, step-by-step descriptions of the sex act, including the ensuing fatigue.

Gerda's passion for music and musical theory is equalled by Imma's for mathematics, which is not unrelated to music. But perhaps their most outstanding common characteristic is the "Sprodigkeit" (English knows no equivalent to this expressive German word), a wall of hardness and reserve which they build around themselves as a protection against too much intimacy. We have already spoken of Gerda's coolness toward everyone, including her husband. Imma is a more temperamental type. Her moods and impulses come to the surface, and she is quite capable of change, while Gerda remains always the same.

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