Read Charles Jessold, Considered as a Murderer by Wesley Stace Free Online
Book Title: Charles Jessold, Considered as a Murderer|
The author of the book: Wesley Stace
Date of issue: February 1st 2011
ISBN: No data
ISBN 13: No data
Format files: PDF
The size of the: 381 KB
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Reader ratings: 7.9
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I am surprised that there are so few 5-star reviews for Charles Jessold, Considered as a Murderer, because this novel is an instant classic. The background alone is fascinating. Britain in the early twentieth century is just getting over a 300-year dry spell in music. This recovery is controversial since it came about by grafting German music (Brahms, Wagner) onto the English stalk, resulting in hybrids like Elgar (who wrote the music usually used at graduations).
Truly English music is sought out by collectors of rural folk songs. Our title character and the narrator, Leslie Shepard begin the novel by going out to the country songcatching. Shepard is a music critic and musically conservative and looks to composer Jessold as the Great White Hope of English music. We follow Jessold through Shepard's eyes as he develops by incorporating modernist dissonances from the continent into his music, all the while holding on to some more traditionally English elements.
The climax of Jessold's career is to be the premier of his opera, Little Musgrave, the first English opera since the time of Shakespeare. But on the night of the dress rehearsal, Jessold's wife and her lover are poisoned and Jessold is found dead of a gunshot wound, an obvious suicide. This triple death seems to echo the plot of the opera, whose performance is now cancelled.
Shepard takes us through Jessold's life and death two times, the first time in an "official" account, the second time as a memoir written in his old age. The two stories have some significant differences, raising interesting questions about how truth gets spun and how myths get made. Shepard's narrative voice alone is worth the price of admission: observant, self-aware, arch, vain, he slightly resembles Ellsworth Toohey in The Fountainhead.
Charles Jessold, Considered as a Murderer is a fascinating portrait of three wonderfully-wrought characters: Jessold, Shepard and Shepard's wife. It is replete with period detail and references to both real and imaginary musical history. I am only passingly acquainted with the era, and it completely held my attention.
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Read information about the authorWesley Stace also records music under the nom de plume of John Wesley Harding.
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