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March 2009 - The Master of Verona by David Blixt

A monthly discussion on varying themes guided by our members. (Book of the Month discussions through December 2011 can be found in this section too.)
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Richard
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Post by Richard » Sun March 1st, 2009, 1:16 am

Didn't know about the different editions, Annis - sorry for being pedantic without license!
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Margaret
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Post by Margaret » Sun March 1st, 2009, 2:37 am

Here's the link to the Wikipedia article for those who are interested: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cangrande_della_Scala. Be warned - there's a terrible spoiler in it if Blixt is writing a sequel (I surely hope so) to MOV. This is an example of why it's so much fun to read about the more "obscure" historical figures like Cangrande. I had never heard of him, and he was really one of those larger-than-life personalities!

I picked up references to Shakespeare's:

Romeo and Juliet (of course)
The Merchant of Venice (Shylock)
The Taming of the Shrew (Kate and Petruchio)

and which play is Benedick from? Is that Much Ado About Nothing?

It totally slipped past me that the dog Mercurio is a reference to Mercutio from Romeo and Juliet! I guess he fit so neatly into the story as a dog that I missed the reference. Really, dogs were so important to aristocrats all through the Middle Ages, it's a shame more authors don't write good parts for dogs into their novels.
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cesco
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Antonia

Post by cesco » Sun March 1st, 2009, 2:43 am

[quote=""Ludmilla""]I also enjoyed his sister's character -- Antonia. I hope she continues to play a major part in the next book.[/quote]

For a different look at Antonia and the rest of Dante's family, you can look at Kimberley Heuston's novel DANTE'S DAUGHTER. I haven't read it yet - sitting on the shelf waiting for me - but I'm hoping to look at it before I return to the series. Always interested in where research takes people.

Speaking for myself, the whole inspiration for who Antonia is came from the one fact we know of her: she becomes a nun in Ravenna, taking the name Sister Beatrice. Which seems quite perverse, on many levels. She takes the name of the woman her father loved (as opposed to the one he married). And his deification of Beatrice, the bringer of light, through the course of the Commedia is borderline heretical - strange choice of names for a novice to take, on many levels. She also takes orders in the city where he is buried. That in itself seemed significant of a desperate devotion.

I'm very glad you like her. Antonia is one of my favorite characters, and rest assured she plays a large part in the next three books. And making her almost-love Petruchio's unseen cousin Ferdinand from Shrew was an in-joke of colossal proportions - the last time I played Petruchio we had a lot of fun with the idea of Ferdinand.

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Benedick

Post by cesco » Sun March 1st, 2009, 2:47 am

[quote=""Margaret""]and which play is Benedick from? Is that Much Ado About Nothing?[/quote]

Yes, in Much Ado they refer to him as Signor Benedick of Padua. But he isn't the only character from Much Ado to appear in the novel.

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Post by annis » Sun March 1st, 2009, 3:13 am

Posted by Richard
Didn't know about the different editions, Annis - sorry for being pedantic without license!
No worries, Richard. These days I'm just as likely to get something wrong as not, as my poor old brain cells drop by the wayside :) Anyway, it's possible that "Mercurio" refers to the planet Mercury, given the influence of the stars in the story, or even to the mythological Mercury, messenger of the gods. I guess only David can answer that one for sure!

I was quite upset when Ferdinand became an accidental casualty of the dramatic events at the end of the book- I really wanted Antonia to have some happiness on her own account with someone who loved her for herself. However, if in real life she became a nun, i guess that isn't an option.

Thanks for the mention of "Dante's Daughter", David. It sounds as if it would be good complementary reading with "MOV", and I hadn't come across it before.
Last edited by annis on Sun March 1st, 2009, 7:11 am, edited 2 times in total.

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Post by annis » Sun March 1st, 2009, 4:05 am

Because I just have to solve a mystery I went back in time and discovered this post by David which answers quite a few questions and gives an added significance to the place of Mercutio in the MOV (Romeo's friend and supporter in "Romeo & Juliet", not in this case Pietro's dog!)

*Warning - you may not want to read this if you want to work out all the possibilities under your own steam, but if, like me, you're driven by curiosity, you'll find it very interesting.
http://web.mac.com/ingersoll/verona/Author.html

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Post by Ludmilla » Sun March 1st, 2009, 4:24 pm

The recurrence of the name Mercurio is another example of the layering and multiple usages of that name in this novel. I don't know if I was being obtuse, but I wasn't sure whether I was suppose to know who Cesco's mother was. I don't think they ever give her a name, but I think Mercurio must be a clue to Cesco's identity and that of his mother. Pietro finds a Roman coin inscribed with the name Mercurio (which is the inspiration for the name of his dog, and I think another clue pointing to a "message" or "messenger"). Toward the end of the novel, Pietro observes Cesco playing with the coin, which he must have taken from the dog's body, when they are in Giovanna's carriage. Like the medallion that Pathino carries proving that he is Cangrande's bastard, half-brother, I think the Roman coin will become important.

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Post by Tanzanite » Sun March 1st, 2009, 5:14 pm

I think I"ll make an adjustment in my reading plan and start this one next (although I"ll miss the Shakespeare references since I was never a fan...).

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Post by annis » Sun March 1st, 2009, 6:05 pm

Posted by Ludmilla
T
he recurrence of the name Mercurio is another example of the layering and multiple usages of that name in this novel.
Yes, the recurrence of the name and the fact that baby Cesco ends up clutching the Mercurio coin are, I think, significant clues as to the child's identity.
Some Roman coins featuring Mercury here:
http://www.forumancientcoins.com/moonmo ... rcury.html

Young Cesco's mother is a mysterious figure. We only see the baby in charge of intermediaries, but we must assume that she is a noblewoman, perhaps widowed or married. We might have to look at "R&J" to work out who she is.

Cangrande's sister Katerina mentions her at one point, but I'm hampered here by the fact that I keep lending my copy of MOV tp people and haven't currently got it as a reference!
Last edited by annis on Sun March 1st, 2009, 6:34 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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cesco
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Post by cesco » Sun March 1st, 2009, 6:37 pm

[quote=""annis""]Posted by Ludmilla
We might have to look at "R&J" to work out who she is.
[/quote]

Without being too spoiler-y: while Cesco's identity is firmly rooted in R&J, the play will be no help whatsoever in determining who his mother is. Cryptic enough? And there are clues about Cesco's mother that have to wait until the sequel. So don't anyone go mad trying to figure this out. The pieces aren't there.

Actually, Cesco's identity was never intended to be a huge secret. Unlike several surprises in store, that one is more "a-ha!" than "wow!"
Last edited by cesco on Sun March 1st, 2009, 6:49 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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