Over countless generations societies have imbued nature with meaning and significance beyond its physical reality. Unsurprisingly, therefore, the connotations that can be conveyed by nature is a common device that creators use for enhancing the mood of a piece. Typical features would include light and dark, evening and morning, shadows, thunder and lightning, storm, the moon, the stars, the sun, the sea, rain and cloud, mist and fog, mountains, forests, rivers and so on.
The very title of our novel, ‘Casanova in Paris: The Shadows of the King’, contains a reference to nature. Traditionally darkness is associated with that which is evil, which is unknown, that which is hidden from plain sight or desires to hide, the abode of the guilty or the criminal, the place of secrets and that which is unnatural or metaphysical. Unsurprisingly darkness enhances tension and fear. Light, by contrast, is associated with what is good, spiritual and innocent, with optimism, with what is safe, what is known and can be trusted. Shadow, lying between the two, is a little ambiguous although it takes on more the quality of darkness than light. Events in the novel which involve secrecy, danger and unease tend, therefore, to take place at night such as the Southerner’s ambush of Casanova and the drowning of Comtois, Casanova’s initial meeting with Gabrielle, his capture of Guillaime, his despondency on Pont Neuf (with accompanying gargoyles and demon) and his nightmares. This isn’t always the case, however. Some of the violence and coercion committed by the Southerner takes place during the day, a point commented upon by Casanova, highlighting his brazenness. The moon has long been associated with the occult and so is included when Madame de Pompadour comments upon d’Urfé’s interest in the cabbalistic arts. The moon is also present in one of Casanova’s dreams, along with various demons, again underscoring a sense of the supernatural. Rain is typically associated with tears, sadness and melancholy and thus provides the backdrop to the funeral of one of Duverney’s men. In contrast, Casanova’s recovery at d’Urfé’s chateau following upon the Southerner’s ambush is highlighted by a scene that is set during the calm and tranquillity of the morning. In the final panel, however, that tranquillity is disturbed, reflecting the danger that lies ahead.
‘The Prologue’, and chapters 1 to 11 of ‘Casanova in Paris: The Shadows of the King’ are now freely available here.
27 long form articles on Casanova’s life and times are freely available here.
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