Monday, 18 July 2016

Night Time Conversation

The Merman's Children

"Rain dashed against castle walls, in a night that howled." (p. 136)

Two sounds: rain on stone; howling wind.

"Cold crept out of the stone, past the tapestries, and darkness laid siege to lamps." (ibid.)

Physical sensation: cold. An appeal to the sense of sight: tapestries seen by lamplight but surrounded by darkness. This is all appropriate to the subject matter of the conversation, like the scene-setting in a horror film.

"Ivan Subitj sat across from Vanimen of Liri. He had dismissed his servants..." (ibid.)

This is to be a private conversation about sensitive matters.

"...keeping his wife awake." (ibid.)

So that she can take part in the conversation? No:

"She sat in a corner, warming herself as best she could at a brazier, till he signaled for more wine." (ibid.)

So that she can substitute for the servants: half the human race in a servile role. Meanwhile, another physical sensation: warmth from the brazier counteracting coldness from the stones.

Subitj uses another to me unfamiliar term, "'...guslar...,'" but immediately explains it: "'...a wandering musician, a ne'er-do-well...'" (p. 137)

Does he mean "a wandering musician and therefore also a ne'er-do-well" or "a wandering musician and also a ne-er-do-well"?

This guslar married a woman of "'...the Tzigani, those landless pagans...'" (ibid.) I have not found "Tzigani" with this meaning by googling.


Sean M. Brooks said...

Kaor, Paul!

Two thoughts comes to mind: "darkness laid siege to lamps" made me think of dark or evil things opposing or laying siege to good things or persons. And I wonder if the Tzigani were Rom, Romany, or gypsies.

As for Pavle Subitj's wife, she might well not have been present for a merely "servile" reason but because the King-maker could trust her discretion.


ndrosen said...

Kaor, Paul and Sean!

I'm a few days behind in the blog. Yes, the Tzigani were Rom; there is a composition by Johann Strauss the younger, "The Gypsy Baron," the title of which is "Tzigeunerbaron" in the original German.

I do not speak Croatian, but as I understand it, a guslar is one who plays a gusle, stringed instrument, and does not have to mean a ne'er-do-well, although a respectable parent might not have wanted his child to become a guslar.

Best Regards,
Nicholas D. Rosen

Paul Shackley said...

Thank you, Nicholas.

Sean M. Brooks said...

Kaor, Nicholas!

Thanks! Your explanation makes sense. I was right tot think the "Tzigani" were gypsies or Rom.

And respectable, settled parents would NOT want their children to join the Tzigani! (Smiles)