I am a sucker for Requiems: Cherubini, Mozart, Dvorak, Fauré, Verdi, Britten, Penderecki and now (and then) Süssmayr’s own. This is what I mean by a Reggie Oliver classic story, one that it is a privilege to read and I am personally pleased to imagine the massed and marshalled audience of this book applauding as it comes to the close of its visionary pattern on the stiff, luxurious paper of the page. It tells of an Englishman who rents a room in Vienna under the room of a bereft Süssmayr who is in turn tainted with a Salieri type bitterness after helping a dying Mozart complete his own Requiem, and seemingly haunted by Mozart’s widow. The English protagonist is as Eric Fenby to Delius who by the end returns to the ‘stone music’ of the Morchester cathedral, which I imagine to be like Lichfield’s.
This story, for me, completes the book’s earlier astrological chart (in ‘Lord of the Fleas’) but inspirationally of death as well as of birth, the precise Epochal moment of each of these two events by charting between them a changing river of astrologically literary harmonics to represent the pattern of the Requiem, a Jungian synchronicity, transcribing a chart-intrinsic series of Blakean passages (not purple so much as golden) fluted through with that ‘riparian spate’, that idea of a river never being the same twice, borne along by the oxymorons of humanity, philosophy, science etc that were first adumbrated by ‘Singing Blood’. And riven by the spirit and music of Mann’s Magic Mountain.
A story that needs to be read and read and read till it gives up all its secrets. Never be impatient with literary works like this one!
Above is an extract from my review of Reggie Oliver's book 'Flowers of the Sea' (Tartarus Press) HERE.
THE UNHOLY WEIGHT OF THE GLIMPSE