Giacomo Girolamo Casanova (1725-1798)
Pastel by Francesco Casanova, brother of Giacomo
Soldier, spy, diplomat, writer, adventurer, chiefly remembered from his autobiography, which has established his reputation as the most famous erotic hero. Casanova's memoirs are an unreliable account of his adventures with 122 women - according to his own counts - but they also provide an intimate portrait of the manners and life in the 18th century. His countless projects, employments, and initiatives took him through the courts of Europe - in Paris he was employed to do some espionage work by Louis XV and from London he tried to sell the secret of a cotton red dye to his own country.
Giacomo Casanova was born in Venice. By 1750 he had worked as a clergyman, secretary, soldier, and violinist in several countries. Afterwards he traveled, gambled, spied, evaded authorities, seduced women, and wrote, leaving behind over 8000 pages of manuscripts at his death. The infamous Memoirs, written in French, tell the story of his life and loves until 1744.
'Do you suppose one would have known Casanova?' I asked.
'Oh, but of course,' said Moreland. 'In early life, Casanova played the violin - like Carolo. Casanova played in a band - I doubt he would have been up to a solo performance. I can just imagine what he would have been like to deal with if one had been the conductor. Besides, he much fancied himself as a figure at the opera and musical parties. One would certainly have met him. At least I am sure I should.'
'Think of having to listen to interminable stories about his girls,' said Maclintick. 'I could never get through Casanova's Memoirs. Why should he be considered a great man just because he had a lot of women? Most men would have ended by being bored to death.'
'That is why he was a great man,' said Moreland. 'It wasn't the number of women he had, it was the fact that he didn't get bored.' Casanova's Chinese Restaurant, 32.
A Letter from Nick Birns (2002)
The Conductor Skips a Beat: some Problems with Time -- Doug Presley
The Dependent Maclintick -- Katherine Leonard
Marriage Troubles -- Gauri Kirloskar
A Downward Spiral -- Will Story
"Pale Hands I Loved" -- Ash Verdery
Jenkins, An Evolving Character -- Zachary Smotherman
Dysfunctional by Habit? -- Madeleine Fawcett
Reality Meets Fiction: the Spanish Civil War -- James Seman
Pale Hands on the Shalimar: "A Kashmiri Love Song" in Casanova's Chinese Restaurant -- Paul McCarthy
Wiser Eyes: Powell's Retrospective on Nick's Life -- Nick Anschuetz
You May Now Kiss the Bride: Marriage in Casanova's Chinese Restaurant -- Michael Donelan
Controversial Affairs in Casanova's Chinese Restaurant : Audrey Maclintick and Hugh Moreland's Questionable Infidelities -- Erica Bakies
A Melancholy Man: Maclintick's Suicide -- Nicole Lee
Entering the Dance: A Newcomer's Reflection -- Alyssa Warren
Tipping the Scales: Maclintick's Dependence on Moreland -- Rocco Monaco
A Word Without Definition: Marriage in A Dance to the Music of Time -- Cassidy Carpenter
They All Fall Down: Death in Casanova's Chinese Restaurant -- William Koven
A Sadistic Love -- Kym Louie
Tuffy Weedon: Stringham's Keeper -- John Bukawyn
Friend, Protégé, Brother-in-Law: The Relationship of Chips Lovell and Nick Jenkins -- James Yang
Erridge: Anthony Powell's Scapegoat? -- Alex Svec
None of Your Business: Nick's Selective Narration -- Corey Simpson
Casanova's Chinese Restaurant opens after World War II at the bombed-out site of the Mortimer, a pub Jenkins used to go to. Through a series of recollections, we see Jenkins meet Hugh Moreland (left), a composer, in the late 20s. Through Moreland and Mr. Deacon Jenkins meets Maclintick, Carolo, and Gossage, all three associated with music, and Norman Chandler, a dancer. Later in the evening they dine with Barnby. Jumping to the mid-30s, Jenkins attends a play with Moreland and meets his girlfriend, Matilda Wilson, an actress. At the play he meets Mark Members, Stringham's mother Mrs. Foxe, and Chandler. Finally we learn that Matilda and Moreland marry, about a year before Jenkins and Isobel do.
Members of the Tolland family attend luncheon at Katherine, Lady Warminister's, where Jenkins finds out that Erridge has gone to Spain to support its civil war. St John Clarke also is present; Erridge has left him in charge of Thrubworth, which is in serious financial difficulties. Jenkins then visits Isobel in a nursing home because of a miscarriage, and while there he runs into Moreland (whose wife is pregnant) and Widmerpool (who has boils). Jenkins goes with Moreland to Maclintick's house. The Maclinticks fight during the whole visit, leaving Jenkins and Moreland uncomfortable. A few days later Jenkins eats lunch with Widmerpool.
The Morelands' daughter dies shortly after birth. A year or two later Mrs. Foxe, helped by Norman Chandler, throws a party for Moreland, in honor of a new symphony. At the party, the Maclinticks fight; Matilda reveals that she and Carolo were once married and that Moreland and Pricilla have "something on." Stringham appears, drunk but funny, and charms Mrs. Maclintick, but is taken away when Commander Foxe phones Tuffy Weedon, his caretaker. The Morelands leave the party separately, as does Pricilla.
Mrs. Maclintick leaves her husband to go off with Carolo. Jenkins and Moreland visit Maclintick trying to cheer him up, but a few days later he gasses himself. Moreland tells Jenkins that the affair with Pricilla is over. Robert announces that Pricilla is marrying Chips Lovell, and Frederica announces that St. John Clarke has left his fortune to Erridge, who thus will not have to sell Thrubworth Woods to solve the financial difficulties.
These are the major characters in this volume, organized by chapter:
Hugh Morland - composer, Jenkins's best friend
Ralph Barnby - a painter, a friend of Jenkins (and Mr. Deacon)
Mr. Deacon - elderly friend of Jenkins, owns an antique shop
Maclintick - a music reviewer
Gossage - another music critic
Carolo - a violinist
Norman Chandler - a dancer and actor
Mrs. Foxe - Stringham's rich, aristocratic mother
Mark Members - a writer, University friend of Jenkins
Matilda Wilson - an actress, love interest of Moreland
Widmerpool - businessman, at School with Jenkins
Dr. Brandreth - physician for Widmerpool and Matilda
St. John Clarke - an older writer
Lady Warminster - the Tollands' stepmother
Frederica, Hugo, Robert, Blanche, George, Susan, Pricilla - various Tollands, Jenkins's in-laws
Chips Lovell - works with Jenkins
Veronica - George's wife
Roddy Cutts - Susan's husband, a member of Parliament
Audrey Maclintick - Maclintick's awful wife
Eleanor Walpole-Wilson - lives with Norah Tolland
Commander Foxe ("Buster") - Stringham's stepfather
Lady and Lord Huntercombe - rich patrons of the arts
Miss Weedon ("Tuffy") - Stringham's caretaker
Charles Stringham - Jenkins's friend from School, now an alcoholic
J. G. Quiggin - a writer, a staunch Marxist
More so than any of the previous books in the series, Cassanova's Chinese Restaurant seems to be lacking in a consistent time frame within which the events occur. While throughout the book we have encountered occasional flashbacks, never before have we experienced such a concentration of out-of-sequence events. Yet each time that there is a serious jump in time, misfortune seems to accompany it. Powell seems to be relating the missteps in his Dance to the Music of Time with unhappiness and death.
After the visit to Maclintick's, Nick lies awake in bed thinking of how awkward the evening has been. He describes the visit as "curiously out of focus; a pocket in time; and evening that pertained in character to life some years before" (216). The flow of time having been disrupted, Nick goes on to describe his pessimistic outlook of Maclintick's life. Nick claims that "nothing was more surprising than man's capacity for survival," going on to predict that "before one could look around, Maclintick would be in a better job, married to a more tolerable wife. All the same, [Nick] felt doubtful about that happening" (216). Despite the seeming indomitable attitude Nick attributes as part of human nature, he does not honestly think that Maclintick will fit into the usual pattern. His intuition proves correct, as in the next paragraph we discover that Maclintick has committed suicide, and removed himself from the Dance entirely. In just one page of the book, Powell defines a flaw in time then quickly follows with pessimism and death.
The most obvious mis-match of time, fittingly enough appears at the very beginning of the chapter, as if to demonstrate to the reader the confusion that accompanies anachronistic events. The book opens farther along the timeline than we have traveled so far in the series, yet also regresses almost as far back as we have known Nick, to the 20s. With the storyline only having progressed as far as the late 1930s, the opening pages of the book, taking place sometime after World War II, seem the most out of place. Within the context, Nick also describes a sense of clashing time-periods. He portrays the "bombed out" Mortimer as looking like an "archaeological excavation long abandoned," with "only a few broken milk bottles and a laceless boot recalling contemporary life" (1). He gives the bombsite an ancient atmosphere that contrasts with the present-future of after the War. The scene at the Mortimer recalls "Moreland's memory," (2) giving the distinct implication not only that Moreland has died, but also that he is someone whose death might be, as we later learn it is, worth caring about. Like Maclintick's situation, the Mortimer, and everything else beneath the "cheerless Soho sky," have a distinctly depressing air about them (2).
Every time the "music of time" skips a beat, misfortune seems to accompany it. Yet Powell has found an even more successful way of conveying that message than simply through the plot line, as he confuses the reader with the backwards chronology of the first chapter. While some may say that the insertion of Moreland was only awkward because Powell was trying to fix the oversight he had made in the previous books*, the text seems to suggest otherwise. "In the end most things in life - perhaps all things - turn out to be appropriate" (2). This comes right after the initial shock of the time-jump, and seems to be Powell's way of encouraging the reader to muddle through the confusion until everything, "in the end," becomes clear. By the end of the book we seem to be back on track (to use the metaphor of the "Ghost Railway" loosely) as time once again begins its slow march that was so briefly halted when the unfortunate events of the future were juxtaposed with those of the past.
*This remark refers to a theory presented in class that Powell is forced to disrupt the chronological sequence so violently because he has recognized the problem of introducing Moreland - a character who has become Jenkins's best friend and who yet has not been mentioned in any of the earlier books -- a sort of temporal smoke-screen. - Ed.
If there is ever a need for a model of a dependent personality, Maclintick would be it. He exhibits "submissive and clinging behavior" and is unable to do "things on his ... own because of a lack of self esteem" (284, American Psychiatric Association's Diagnostic Criteria from DSM-IV) Maclintick's codependency escalates to the point where his wife becomes the dominant figure in their marriage; and although he attempts to fight back, he is still incapable of handling her wrath. However unhealthy their relationship becomes, in her he finds meaning; and when she leaves, he can no longer find reason to go on.
"Even the worst marriage [is] better than no marriage at all," (CCR, 7) is the Stindbergian notion that Maclintick appears to live by. Even through his wife's relentless poking sarcasm and criticism, he returns to her for more; unable to leave her for fear of "being left alone to take care of himself" (284, DSM). "Not surprising the poor woman had to go into a home after getting her divorce" (CCR, 174), says Audrey candidly in the presence of her husband. She tells of "the sort of husband [she has] to put up with" (CCR, 175). "`Maclintick never dreams of going through the awful things he has done,'" she continues, "`It would take far too long'" (CCR, 176). She never ceases, never misses one opportunity to humiliate her husband. Yet, for every line she throws at him, he simply lets it hit him and goes on; seemingly unaffected by her condemnations. He "goes to excessive lengths" in order to receive attention from his wife, even "to the point of volunteering to do [endure] things that are unpleasant" (284, DSM). Maclintick permits his wife's abusive behavior because he would rather be abused than be alone.
Maclintick is not innocent in his marriage; he dishes out his own fair share of insults throughout the book. From one-liners like "You bloody bitch" (CCR, 151), to instances when third parties can feel the tension between them, Maclintick does not appear to be completely deficient of confidence; he does fight back with his wife on occasion. "He swung around in such a rage that for a moment I though he was going to strike her"(CCR, 151), Jenkins notes. Nonetheless, he never musters enough conviction to do more than rant and rave; he becomes complacent, even comfortable, in his despondent state. Maclintick has no one to blame but himself for his marital and dependency problems.
Contemporary psychiatrists would agree that Maclintick has Dependent Personality Disorder in that he lacks the self-confidence required to become his own person. Hence, he must latch onto a comforting personality, whom he improbably finds in the form of Audrey. And when Audrey leaves him, he finds himself longing for the woman who gives him meaning. In the loss of his wife, his lifeline, Maclintick finds an adversity that he cannot overcome. Maclintick does not die when he gasses himself, but rather, he chooses to die when his wife leaves him.
Applying modern day psychological theories to the historical and fictitious characters of A Dance to the Music of Time only enhances how real they become. The people that are encountered throughout Casanova's Chinese Restaurant appear to be a stretch of what `normal' people are. However, knowing that Maclintick suffers from a true mental disorder verifies that the characters are not simply odd personalities; but rather, are unique, dynamic, true-to-life people.
One of the important themes discussed in Casanova's Chinese Restaurant is marriage. This theme is introduced early on by the mention of the Strindberg quote, "Even the worst marriage is better than no marriage at all" (7). After reading his first four books, we have realized that Jenkins is a narrator who rarely lets us in on his personal life. In the fifth volume, he talks about the marriages of Moreland and Maclintick repeatedly but abstains from talking about his own: "it is doubtful whether an existing marriage can ever be described directly in the first person and convey a sense of reality... the difficulties of presenting a marriage are inordinate" (97).
However, it is possible that Jenkins is portraying his marriage through Morelands'. In both situations, the couples have lost a baby, which has obviously created a significant amount of tension. Moreland and Matilda started to "get on each other's nerves" (104) and Moreland has also pursued some sort of an affair with Priscilla. Even though there is hardly evidence of conflicts in Jenkins' marriage, the loss of the baby had to have had some sort of effect on his relationship with Isobel. The Maclinticks on the other hand do not even want a baby. "Life is bad enough without adding that worry to the rest of one's other troubles," says Maclintick and Audrey agrees: "Everyone seems to want babies nowadays ... Maclintick and I never cared for the idea" (111).
When Jenkins first finds out about Moreland's affair with Priscilla from Matilda, he thinks there is some mistake because of what Moreland use to say: "Nothing is more disturbing than one's friends showing unexpected sexual tastes" (156). He chooses to cover up the situation for Moreland but he is uncomfortable with the circumstances. Futhermore, it seems that Matilda and Moreland have problems communicating because she talks about her marriage problems to Nick and Mrs. Foxe's party instead of talking to Moreland himself.
Even though Jenkins may be having a few problems in his marriage, it is not as disastrous as the Maclinticks'. He is horrified on his visit to Maclintick's house; horrified by the way they treat each other, horrified by how rude Audrey is. Every time Moreland visits Maclintick; he invites Jenkins to come along. Jenkins detests these visits but accompanies him anyway.
Both Moreland and Maclintick have doubts about whether happiness is possible in marriage. Matilda too says on page 157, "I have been married a few times and I sometimes begin to doubt it." Maclintick's separation from Audrey is an inevitable one, but when it finally occurs, Maclintick kills himself.
So then is what Strindberg considered right? Maclintick's marriage was the only one that was doomed. The others, even though they struggle, start on an upward path as we approach the end of the book. After Maclintick's suicide, Moreland ends his relationship with Priscilla. Also, we realize that Jenkins and Isobel share the same sense of humor and are very compatible. This is when Isobel asks Jenkins to go check on the "odd scenes" in the "next room" at Mrs. Foxe's party. (173) When Isobel is at the nursing home; we come to know of their love for each other, even though it is understated:
"I shan't be sorry to come home."
"I shan't be sorry for you to be home again." (97)
This interaction, although reserved, conveys their love for each other. Jenkins gives us only a very short glimpse of his personal life, but it enough for us to know that he cares greatly about Isobel. Although the Maclintick's marriage is doomed, the Morelands and the Jenkins' hopefully have a brighter future ahead of them.
Some people are doomed to fail. Their lives are set on a track that leads downward. There are a variety of characters in The Dance, some that show promise and others that reek of failure. Stringham and Maclintick are two characters that are inevitably doomed.
Stringham is a character that we've seen throughout The Dance. We first meet him at school in A Question of Upbringing when Nick joins him for an evening snack. Nick describes him as a, "tall and dark...sad ... not very happy" (8-9 AQU) boy. Stringham also, "suffered from prolonged fits of melancholy," (9, AQU). This depression of his leads to his alcoholism, which becomes a huge problem for him. His problem becomes so bad that whenever we see him after A Question of Upbringing he is drunk. We first see him drunk at Milly Andriadis's party in A Buyer's Market. Nick says, "I suppose he (Stringham) had had a good deal to drink," (145 ABM). Nick doesn't see Stringham for some time after this. In the third volume, The Acceptance World, he runs into him at one of Le Bas' Old Boy Dinners. Stringham shows up drunk and immediately orders more liquor. Stringham's problem is so bad at this point that it worries Nick. "This look of his even made me feel apprehension as to what Stringham himself might do next. Obviously he was intensely ... drunk" (192, TAW). That night ended with Nick and Widmerpool having to force Stringham to go to bed.
There is then a large gap over which we don't see Stringham. We hear that Tuffy Weedon has taken over the responsibilities as a caretaker to him. We finally reencounter him again in his most pathetic state in Casanova's Chinese Restaurant when Nick attends a party for Moreland's symphony at Mrs. Foxe's house. Stringham's family treats him as if he is a doomed child. Nick says, "I felt a pang of horror at the way his family now talked of Stringham: as if he had been put away from view like a person suffering from a horrible, unmentionable disease" (145). Nick has not realized how far Stringham has descended into the horrible, unmentionable disease, alcoholism. When Stringham makes a surprised, and not welcomed, entrance Nick understands: "There could be no doubt that he was drunk" (163).
Alcoholism is not the only cause of failure in The Dance; depression is another factor. Furthermore, Stringham is not the only victim of these two forces. Maclintick is another.
We first meet Maclintick at the Mortimer in Casanova's Chinese Restaurant. He joins Nick, Moreland, and Barnby for a meal at Casanova's Chinese Restaurant. Maclintick doesn't say much at all. When he does speak, Nick describes Maclintick as uttering, "words in a tone of deep pessimism" (30) pessimistic people are, "marked by little hopefulness: dark, dismal, gloomy," as stated in the American Heritage Dictionary. From the first occasion that we meet Maclintick he seems hopeless. As their meal continues at the restaurant Maclintick only comes across as more depressed. Moreland tells a humorous story of someone that committed suicide. Barnby and Nick laugh, but Maclintick says that there is nothing funny about suicide. He says, "That is how I propose to behave myself when the time comes…I give myself at least five more years" (32). Maclintick is right that he will commit suicide, but Moreland notes at his death, "He lasted eight or nine" (218), years instead of five. Maclintick and his wife fight constantly. They seem as if they'll kill each other at some points in the book. Then finally she leaves him. Moreland and Nick go and visit Maclintick after that incident. Maclintick is drunk, but he doesn't seem too depressed. A few days later he kills himself.
Stringham and Maclintick each have a small problem that brings on a larger one. Stringham is depressed so he drinks to fight it. Alcohol doesn't cure his depression; it only makes it worse. Maclintick too becomes depressed through drinking. The more alcohol he ingests the more depressed he becomes. It is a vicious cycle that they both go through.
Stringham and Maclintick both have very supportive friends in The Dance, but it doesn't matter what others do for them. They are doomed people. Alcoholism is Stringham's disease, while depression is Maclintick's. Nick sees the track of life through the Ghost Railway and lying dead at the end of it is a figure, representing both Stringham and Maclintick. These two characters follow their destinies in a downward spiral in The Dance. Maclintick is the one dead, but it doesn't look as though it will be long before Stringham is lying down beside him.
A theme of friendship dominates the fifth book of Anthony Powell's A Dance to the Music of Time, Casonova's Chinese Restaurant. In the first chapter Powell inlays expositional segments to establish and depict Nick's friendship with the composer Moreland. These inlays seem confusing and painstakingly added, but they do establish the relationship between Nick and Moreland. This friendship revolves around a motif of women.
Powell begins constructing this motif in the first paragraph: at the "bombed out" Mortimer, a bar that symbolizes Nick and Moreland's friendship, Nick notices "in niggling copybook handwriting" the word "Ladies" (1). The presence of this word at this bar symbolizes the presence of women in their friendship, and its survival of the Mortimer's destruction perhaps symbolizes the survival of Nick's marriage beyond his friendship with Moreland. When the Mortimer is "rebuilt in a displeasingly fashionable style," it is no longer the haunt of "those connected with the arts, especially musicians", but rather "crowded with second-hand-car salesmen" (9). Powell eliminates the aspect of "ladies" from it, and changes the profession of those that inhabit it, because it no longer symbolizes Nick and Moreland's friendship.
As the first scene progresses, an old singer singing a Kashmiri love song-"Pale hands I loved beside the Shalimar, / Where are you now? Who lies beneath your spell? /... Pale hands, pink tipped, like lotus buds that float/ On those cool waters where we used to dwell"- appears hobbling down the street on crutches; she reminds Nick of the day he and Moreland talked of marriage, before Nick was married (2). This character and her song symbolize Powell's comment on marriage. Now that Nick is married, the singer, who symbolizes all women but his spouse, hobbles on crutches, crippled and seen differently by Nick. Her song describes the memory of pre-marital loves such as Jean, who Nick now sees as "Pale hands ... [he] loved" (2). This comment pertains to Nick and Moreland's friendship, because marriage and the motif of women link their friendship. Nick and Moreland's friendship hovers around their marriages. Another example of marriage's centrality to their relationship is when Moreland's wife, Matilda, comes to Nick when she suspects her husband of having an affair with Priscilla. Powell uses this scene to heighten the motif of women that pervades the friendship.
The title of the book, Casanova's Chinese Restaurant, also contributes to the motif of women and their role in Nick and Moreland's friendship. A Casanova is "a man who is amorously and gallantly attentive to women; a promiscuous man; a philanderer" (dictionary.com). This title (derived from the name of the restaurant where Barnby askes Moreland's old girlfriend to model for him) foreshadows the interaction between Nick and Isobel, and Moreland, Matilda and Priscilla which takes place throughout the novel.
Powell revolves Nick and Moreland's friendship around a motif of women in order to comment on marriage. Before they marry, each is a Casanova who pursues women that he loves, but afterwards, the former love interests become "Pale hands ... loved beside the Shalimar" (2).
Jenkins's initial view of marriage, based on his more restrained nature, continues to evolve through his marital relationship to Isobel. In the past, Jenkins has observed marriage from a third-person perspective. Because of his reserved and detached personality, he emotionally removes himself from his marriage to Isobel. The couple have just gone through the tragedy of losing their baby. Jenkins is contemplating the concept of marriage on his way to the nursing home to see Isobel, who is recuperating from her miscarriage. Hw does not discuss his emotions following the couple's tragedy nor do hw and Isobel interact in any comforting manner regarding the devastating loss of their child. The interaction between them at the nursing home is formal and seems rehearsed. Isobel says, "I shan't be sorry to come home" and Jenkins responds, "I shan't be sorry for you to be home again."(97) Their behavior toward one another is very polite in contrast to the harsh reality of the volatile emotional state one might expect after the death of a child. Jenkins shows that he now views marriage, once again from a more distant perspective, with his statement, "A future marriage or a past one may be investigated and explained in terms of writing by one of its parties, but it is doubtful whether an existing marriage can ever be described directly in the first person and convey a sense of reality."(97) These thoughts are entering his mind as he nears the nursing home because he is unable to discuss the loss of his child with Isobel and he is unable to experience this tragedy in the present. He reveals his inability to address this highly emotional experience through his use of formal language that does not convay emotion, as well as his inablity to generate first-person thoughts on his own personal grieving state.
As Jenkins contemplates marriage on his way to the nursing home, he decides that marriage "defies definition"(97) and is not to be charted in any way. He discusses how two people who are bound in marriage bring different aspects to the relationship and each has to adapt to the other's character. The couple forms a bond that is forever changing inside the relationship as well as forever changing as a result of outside stresses and influences. Jenkins says," Its forms are at once so varied and yet so constant, providing a kaleidoscope, the colours of which are always changing and yet always the same"(97). With this statement he suggests that, although many of the components of the marriage remain constant, other aspects are transforming and thus taking on a new appearance, like the view of a kaleidoscope as light enters and retreats, highlighting the many varied pieces that make up the present view. Jenkins and Isobel's marriage now has experienced a different turn of the kaleidoscope. They will be forced to adapt their current way of life to the new stresses that the world has placed on their relationship. The kaleidoscope that is their marriage, ever changing and adapting, has let in new light from the outside world and now the colors will rearrange themselves in a new pattern around the constant center of the couple's characters. Like something seen through the many varied pieces of the constantly changing kaleidoscope, Jenkins and Isobel's marriage has changed, silently and quietly.
Jenkins's views marriage as an action one takes in life, like an unwanted oppressive stage of development that will culminate in some joyful states of being. Due to his stance on marriage and his philosophy that, "the difficulties of presenting marriage are inordinate"(97), he will have a difficult time discussing the couple's loss and either expressing himself or consoling his wife. The future that faces Jenkins and Isobel has just taken an unexpected turn and now the couple sees their marriage though a different lens. Their marriage, like the kaleidoscope, is ever changing and is always susceptible to external influences. The death of their child provides a new outlook for the future and a new light to adjust to in the present.
"Certainly the Maclinticks, between them, were enough to make anyone ill at ease," Jenkins thinks to himself. (114) In Casanova's Chinese Restaurant, we are introduced to three very significant marriages: Jenkins's with Isobel, Moreland's with Matilda, and Maclintick's with Mrs. Maclintick. The last is by far the most devastatingly unfortunate one. Maclintick and his wife are extremely similar characters in that they are both very cynical about life, in general. This similarity, unfortunately does not change the fact that their marriage is absolutely terrible; it is impossible not to wonder why they stay together for such a duration when they hold such strong feelings of dislike for each other.
Maclintick is "indeed bad tempered" with a "habitually grumpy and disapproving" manner. (18) When Jenkins is first introduced to him, he comments that Maclintick shows no signs of politeness or any desire to get to know anyone new. He also notices that Maclintick masks any traces of "sentimentality," although he "harboured all kind of violent, imperfectly integrated sentiments." (19) It is clear that Maclintick has a great admiration for Hugh Moreland; however he disguises and downplays those feelings to avoid looking more sensitive than he wants people to know he is. "Maclintick's own hag-ridden temperament also punished him for indulging in what he regarded as sentimentality." (19) Maclintick is, quite obviously, a very depressed man, with many problems. He even expresses suicidal feelings once, which forshadows what lies ahead for him. One of the largest demons Maclintick battles is his wife.
Mrs. Maclintick is also quite an unhappy, cynical figure. "Her formidable discontent for life" is very evident to Jenkins when he and Moreland show up at the Maclinticks for dinner. When they ring the doorbell and she answers the door, she does not even attempt to introduce herself to Jenkins, but steps aside and shrugs her shoulders. Occasionally, she calms down and acts somewhat decent, but then she returns to her "unbearable" personality. Her behavior patterns are very strange, always fluctuating up and down. She is also very temperamental. Her "dissatisfaction with life has probably reached so advanced a stage that she is unable to approach any new event amiably." (116) She has a passionate hatred for most things in life, especially her husband. She treats him ";as if he were not present in the flesh." (117)
Both Maclintick and Mrs. Maclintick treat each other horribly, never displaying any feelings of love towards each other. Their marriage is, actually, quite tragic. However, despite all the negative feelings, they stay together for a long while. But WHY??? As Moreland and Jenkins are leaving the Maclintick's house, Jenkins question whether what they experience that night is a typical night for the Maclinticks. Moreland responds that "they understand each other in an odd way." (122) It seems impossible to see any understanding between the two people. They never want to start a family; they never show any signs of being in love; they are publicly vicious and humiliating to each other; and, finally, Mrs. Maclintick walks out on Maclintick. It is a blessing, so it seems to me, and so it seems to him, at first. But then his life begins to fall apart. He loses his job and then he has some trouble with his kidneys. He begins to "grasp that fact that he will have to get his own supper." (207)
The marriage that exists between the Maclinticks is incomprehensible. There is no way to answer why they ever got married in the first place, or why they stay together for as long as they do. But it is quite apparent that when Mrs. Maclintick leaves him, he does feel pain. Whether he feels the pain because he actually does love her in his own way or because he is so used to being married to her, is questionable. Her leaving him is, ultimately, the defeat of Maclintick. When he kills himself, it is largely based on his wife and the horrible way she treats him. Love is an unexplainable concept; something that only the people who are experiencing it can understand. Is there love between them, or have they been staying together out of habit...?
John--Just read and enjoyed these. It is indeed a bit disconcerting, as the first paper says, to have to backtrack to the early days of Moreland, Maclintick, Gossage, and Carolo, but I can understand why Jenkins (and AP) would not want to mix the musical people in with the visual arts people introduced in BM. The essays recalled for me how much Stringham at Mrs. Foxe's party has always been the dominant scene in the book, so Will Story's essay was the one most congruent with my own preoccupations--I think that scene is none of the best in all of English literature, in terms of how expertly it is choreographed. The students continue to do remarkably well with a complex book filled with 'adult' themes.