A feature we use a great deal in ‘Casanova in Paris’ is foreshadowing, a way of pointing to future events in a narrative and so shape audience expectations. These expectations may be very concrete, such as a character stating that something is going to happen, or very nuanced and related to mood. Foreshadowing can be helpful in different ways: to ease the audience along the narrative so that when events do occur they seem more believable; to heighten anticipation and interest; to manipulate tension; to generate subtle false trails (foreshadowing is suggestive but doesn’t absolutely commit the creator to follow through).
In the early parts of the novel, for example, we include various warnings that things might go badly for Casanova. Casanova’s ‘genius’, in the form of a second person, disembodied voice, comments, ‘Won’t you ever learn Giacomo?’ while Marie and Stefano both point out that as a foreigner in Paris he is particularly vulnerable if anything goes wrong with regards to his involvement with Duverney and Gabrielle. This is reinforced by D’Urfé’s killing of a stag which she compares directly to Casanova, Bechard’s instructions to the Southerner that he should kill the Venetian if necessary, and threats by the Doge of Venice. The negative suggestions are pushed further, almost to the point of creating a false trail, by the appearance of demons as he stands on Pont Neuf and his disturbing dreams, including one in which he is sentenced to death and crucified.
Dreams, of course, are a good way of introducing a sense of fate. We have tied this idea of fate to Gabrielle. The final panel of the Versailles garden party sequence has her surrounded by shadows and ominous figures. Her lover is suborned by Bechard against her. She violently rejects accepted social norms, which in some sense puts her outside the protection of society. The apothecary prepares an abortifacient (essentially a poison to kill her unborn child and which could lead to Gabrielle’s own death). Fate is often a close companion with irony so after Gabrielle discards the abortifacient (to the temporary relief of the audience) Abbess Catherine’s later preparation of another batch of poison looks particularly ominous. Fate, notoriously, is a bullet you can’t dodge.
A very different form of foreshadowing is to use the structure of the text itself. In the opening chapter several times we move between apparently unrelated sequences in which the Southerner captures, tortures and murders Monsieur Comtois while Casanova arrives in Paris and seeks out de Bernis. This indicates to the audience that the Southerner and Casanova are key protagonists in the drama and are likely at some point to come into conflict with each other. Similarly, two-thirds of the way through the narrative we use a role-reversal of an incident that occurred one-third of the way through in order to underscore a shift in plot direction. Stefano changes position from someone who is in the passive role of being followed, to someone who is in the active role of being the follower.
‘The Prologue’, and chapters 1 to 11 of ‘Casanova in Paris: The Shadows of the King’ are now freely available here.
6 long form articles on Casanova’s life and times are freely available here
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