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Toccata and fugue: two separate types of music woven into one work. This seems to explicitly refer to Bach’s Toccata and Fugue in D Minor, which of course has its own authorship controversy.

The entire chapter seems to do this same thing: have two of something that has become one. Below is an analysis of the chapter itself and then the footnotes, all with an emphasis on the number 2.

The Title

Any contemporary reader would see the title of this chapter and likely form the image of the 1931 film Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, which opened with Bach’s Toccata and Fugue in D Minor and his since been associated with horror. They may also think of a second film that was released in 1940: Disney’s Fantasia – which is a merger of classical music and fantasy animation.

The Text

  • The title: Toccata and Fugue. A fugue in itself is a contrapuntal work: point and counterpoint.
  • The first footnote uses the word rumor twice. The second Fn refers to Princip. The 8th Fn reminds us that the original title for Ship of Theseus was the Principality of Rumor.
  • Each section of the Interlude includes two subsections: the assassination and the account of S on the ship.
  • Each section is S the assassin versus one of Vevoda’s agents (or two – #9/#41)
  • The last agent to die is Agent #2
  • The first agent to die is Agent #4 (or 2*2, 2+2, 2^2).
  • The wall writing emphasizes the differences between what S wrote and what he thought he wrote.

The Footnotes
300.1 “For a few years after the publication of Straka’s The Black Nineteen, a bloody tale of political intrigue in the Habsburg Empire, there arose a theory that Straka’s works had been written by “Apis’s Amanuensis”—the mysterious, rarely seen, never-photographed (and possibly not-real) aide to Dragutin Dimitrijevic (“Apis”), who led the Serbian secret military society the Black Hand. (Rumors flourished that the so-called amanuensis was really the brilliant, murderous tactician behind the group’s rise.) However doubtful it may be that this man wrote the Straka books, it is obvious that Straka is playing with that notion here in the Interlude. Strikingly, though, the author turns the tables on the Black Hand agent in this first section. But is this the Amanuensis-Straka killing off his past self? Rejecting a former ideology? A different Straka, killing off one of his rumored identities? None of these?

  1. Apis (Dragutin Dimitrijevic)
  2. Apis’ Amanuensis

The very word Amanuensis plays on the idea of an original and an assistant or copy

300.2 “An identical description of Princip, the real-life assassin of the archduke, appears in The Black Nineteen (p. 262 of Karst’s English-language edition).”

  1. Princip
  2. An identically-described character in The Black Nineteen

300.3 “The same might be said of Straka’s attitude toward distractions of any sort.”

  1. Agent #4’s dislike of the cultivation of trivial preferences
  2. Straka’s similar attitude toward any distractions

305.4 “See fn 8, Chapter 7.”

  1. Fn4, Interlude
  2. Fn8, Chapter 7

307.5 “This page of the manuscript, which is an inky mess, shows Straka agonizing over defining the musical mode in which these notes occur–a detail that, to me, seems less than trivial. This “tumble of notes” began as Phrygian, then became Mixolydian, then Locrian, then Dorian, then Locrian again, and it returned to being Phrygian just in time for printing. The tonal differences, he explained in a letter, were significant, and they were important to the “feel” of the detail. I confess I have a tin ear, and I think the detail would have worked just was well if he had made up a musical term for it, or if he had omitted mention of it entirely.”

A series of duos, as each mode goes from one to the other

  1.    Phrygian, Mixolydian
  2.    Mixolydian, Locrian
  3.    Locrian, Dorian
  4.    Dorian, Locrian
  5.    Locrian, Phrygian

Also, Filomela’s insistence that the detail would have worked just as well if Straka had…

  1.    Made up a musical term
  2.    Omitted mention of it entirely

308.6 “In my opinion, far too much has been made of the purported connections between Straka and the “Santorini Man” deaths. If you, reader, are interested, you will quite easily find a variety of sources full of spurious information on the subject.”

  1. Straka
  2. Santorini Man Deaths

311.7 “Interestingly, this section marks the only use of true second-person narration in Straka’s entire oeuvre. (He did, of course, make occasional use of the direct-address you.) In my notes to him, I suggested that he try his usual third-person here instead, but he was adamant. If I—or anyone—ever again advocated changing the point of view in this section, he vowed, he would pull the manuscript from the publisher and throw it into the closest fire.”

  1. Agent #26
  2. YOU

“Second person” – a definite allusion to two of something. Second person versus third person

316.8 “The Principality of Rumor was, I believe, Straka’s original title for this novel; he mentioned it in a 1944 letter to me, in which he said he was working on a suite of literary caprices and that he had no idea what shape it would eventually take.”

  1. Principality of Rumor
  2. Ship of Theseus

318.9 “This would appear to be a reference to the murder of Trotsky, whom Straka admired. There is no evidence of which I am aware, though, that the two men ever met or corresponded”

  1. S’s thoughts on one day being attacked with an ice-pick
  2. Trotsky’s death blow from an ice-axe

320.10 “Allow me to revisit an earlier observation: we cannot necessarily identify the real life models for characters based on textural details alone. Here, Straka chose clary sage as Sola’s scent, but he just as easily could have chosen rose-geranium or kaffir lime or bougainvillea.”

  1. Sola
  2. The unknown/unknowable model for Sola’s character

324.11 “Many of Straka’s characters find themselves confused by the notion, the feelings, the responsibilities, and the practical applications of love. As repellent as Agent #41 may be, this is a moment that reminds us that she has in her not just a bit of humanity but also a lost-child bewilderment about the world she imagines herself to have mastered.”

  1. Agent #9
  2. Agent #41

327.12 “This line is an echo of one uttered by the cruel Wineblood in Chapter 6 of Wineblood’s Mine. (Minus the Sunnydags.)”

  1. Maelstrom’s line from p327 Tha’s the world burnin’ Sunnydags
  2. The identical line from Wineblood’s Mine in Chapter 6 (minus the Sunnydags)

328.13 “Compare S.’s different responses to his experiences with “mediated writing.” In Chapter 7, he seems flummoxed by it, but one senses a bit of wonder in him as well. Here, though, we see S. resisting it, straining to overcome it, as if he is more certain of what he wants to say and cannot abide not being able to say it. Is it possible that Straka himself was grappling with a similar conflict—between artistic intention and execution? Between desire and the ability to express it? My correspondence with him offers no guidance on the matter, but as these seem like fairly commonplace struggles—the sort that beset many people, not just artists—I will venture to proclaim that it is more than possible; it is certain”

  1. What S wrote
  2. What S thought he wrote

Other Pairings

Do you see any other pairings or where these pairings may lead?