The Fall of Fonthill
Miller 1st 60' Version
Page 35. The poem - 'Like the low murmur, etc.' Should this be preestablished? For example, when showing off the acoustics of Fonthill (page 13 onwards) so it would be 'thrown away' in a young man's voice here, but deadly earnest in an old man's voice at the end. Or at the extreme beginning?
Page 33. The 'no foundations confession'. Could this be pre-established? Possibly page 31, para.11, after 'Progress has been made', ADD something like 'Not only above ground. Also below the earth and now hence unseen. A building of this magnitude needs uniquely large foundations. Down to bedrock itself. Once or twice I thought we were digging down beyond, to Hades.' Para.9, possibly LOSE 'We've been busy during your absence'. ADD 'Time has passed swiftly for myself - and the teams of my workmen - with much work for His Majesty the King at Windsor. But here, too, we have been most zealous in our attentions.'
About Beckford. He was a very good conversationalist, as far as I remember, and very quick off the draw. It would be nice to hear him a few times more in action, demolishing or astonishing those he talked to with his sleight of tongue. (For example, page 24, para.16, I believe what he actually said about the mask is sharper than what we have here.)
His predicament is the more poignant in so far as our audience can be reminded what a good writer he was. So possibly STRENGTHEN the section in which two characters talk about Henley pirating his book. (See later notes on page 22).
But to return to the style of his conversation. My feeling is that at the moment he alternates between 'Real Beckford' and, let's say, a 'Lovelorn Undergraduate'. There was a stylishness and originality about him that we don't always get as yet. One way to deal with this (always if you agree with the proposition of course) would be for us to meet and spend a couple of hours looking at everything he says with the aim of sharpening it when it falls short of the Beckford incisiveness.
About Louisa. I doubt if he could have achieved so great a hold on her if he had not been to bed with her, however cynically. (See note for page 18, para.12). And group sex was presumably a part of the 'experiments' at Fonthill?
Fonthill Tower as symbol of the Phallocentric. This is not something we would wish to be explicit about, but in one sense it's always seemed to me that Fonthill Tower was, symbolically, the ultimate erection (which also momentarily 'lost it' during foreplay) and its collapse the ultimate orgasm. We might think about ways we could strengthen this on the subliminal level. One thought is that a 'loveplay' theme in the music could possibly be used during or after the two tower collapses, in highly Wagnerian leit motif style, thus making the point quite subtly.
Page 6, para.10, 'Don't make a face', possibly would be better 'Don't pull that face' (more period feel).
Page 7, para.2, possibly LOSE 'our' and ADD, after 'ladies', 'of equal rank to yours'. Para.3, possible LOSE 'any'. Para.6, possibly LOSE 'callow' ADD 'coy'.
Page 9, paras.15/17, possibly LOSE 'Shall ... dream.' ADD 'And, speaking of tigers, now let me tell you a horrid dream I had.' COURTENAY: 'Is it very horrid?' BECKFORD: ''Oh, very. It's about snakes.'
Page 10, para.4, 'Dear Alex'. Not clear at first to me who he is writing to. Possibly LOSE 'Dear Alex', ADD 'To Alex Cozens'. OR something like: '... and so I write to you, dear Alex Cozens, dear tutor and friend ... For [Now he's to, etc.] This would also get round the problem that he seems to get rather rapidly to this intimate subject. This way suggests he's already half way through a letter.
Page 11, para.3, possibly before 'Mother' ADD 'my' (more period feel?). Possibly LOSE 'organised it', ADD 'dreamed it up and set it all on its way' (more in character?).
Para.4, possibly LOSE 'old wife', add 'middle aged matron'. Cotillion possibly not the best dance since Scholes says: 'An elaborate ballroom dance often used in the 19th century to close the evening ... in the course of the dance almost every gentleman would dance with every lady.' Unless we have a special reason for stipulating it, it sounds too early for it to have come on the scene?
Para.5, possibly LOSE 'Mother told me', ADD 'I'm told'. (The other suggests rather too much 'Mother's boy').
Para.15, possibly LOSE 'Leagues', ADD 'Kilometres'.
Para.16, possibly LOSE 'mine', ADD 'my lifetime'.
Para.17, possibly after 'yes, yes', ADD 'What is your exile though? Is it that you're married to someone you don't love? That's common enough.' LOUISA: 'Well, he's many years older than me ... Will you write while you're away?' BECKFORD: 'Of course'. LOUISA: 'I will.' BECKFORD: 'And would you do one other [thing for me, etc.]
Page 12, para.2, LOSE 'Its ... to', ADD 'I can't'. LOSE 'I shall only', ADD 'I'd'. Para.5, would it be possible to name Kitty's school? Possibly LOSE 'mind is bursting', ADD 'imagination is teaming' (less of a cliché).
Page 13, para.2, can we ADD where, such as 'on the stage at the Adelphi' or wherever. Para.14, would he call him Couzens at this point? Para.19, possibly LOSE all before the galleries.
Page 14, para.9, 'want to cry'. I feel Beckford would have said something more poetic, perhaps about enthusiasm and sensibility.
Para.11, possibly LOSE 'I'll tiptoe off awhile', ADD 'I think I'll wander on to make a more exact appraisal of certain points' [and leave etc.], OR 'I think I'll now wander off awhile to enable you two to make a more exact appraisal of certain points.'
Para.20, possibly 'William Beckford ... you can win anything you seek' (the other way, listeners might think she's talking to Courtenay?)
Page 15, para.2, possibly LOSE 'Mump', ADD 'Mumble and mutter'. (Although Mump is OK for the period, I feel the other two are better).
Para.13, LOSE 'diabolical ... utmost', ADD 'pleasures to the utmost ... both innocent ... and diabolical'.
Page 16, para.3, LOSE 'too long ... missed they'll', ADD 'much longer. You know last time when they missed me, they' [beat me later].
Para.4, 'I've been miserable'. I feel Beckford should say something less of a cliché - 'my life has been etc. etc.' - to which; para.5, Courtenay might reply 'So has mine been ... empty, empty.'
Para.6, LOSE 'But I am certain', ADD 'Let it be soon we meet again. Your father is much' [set against us, etc.]
Page 17, para.9, after 'engage yourself', ADD 'to a respectable young woman of your own rank'. Para.14, LOSE 'shan't', ADD 'can't'. Para.17, LOSE 'shall', ADD 'can'.
Page 18, para.3, although 'Fancy' is OK in this sense for the date, I feel Beckford would put it in a more poetic or symbolical way.
Para.7, 'we honeymoon'. I suggest better 'we are to honeymoon' (more period) and then say where - was it Lake Geneva?
Para.9, 'William'. Possibly less confusing to call him 'Kitty'?
Para.11, 'so understanding'. I feel he'd use less of a cliché. After 'Loughborough', ADD 'Louisa; And what's he like?'
Para.12, LOSE 'for one moment', ADD 'again for even a day?'
Page 19, para.1, possibly LOSE 'every now and again', and after 'gone', ADD 'are with me constantly to foul my content'. LOSE 'rouse ... state and', ADD 'sometimes even they'.
Para.2, LOSE 'while ... rest', ADD 'Yet'. LOSE 'At least ... to her'.
Para.6, LOSE 'has been born dead', ADD 'Margaret and my child'. LOSE 'is gone', ADD 'was born ... dead'. LOSE 'And what ... news that the', ADD 'There is but one consolation, and that for me and not for Margaret. She and I have been invited to stay at Powderham Castle. Young Kitty will be there. It will be a profound pleasure to see him again. Even though, heaven knows how he is progressing. The' [Loughboroughs have ... Taylor]. LOSE 'But ... relations'.
Page 20, para.4, 'I see no problem' sounds a bit modern.
Page 21, para.3, 'puts paid to', possibly better as 'puts to rest'.
Page 22, para.2, 'calm down' sounds a bit modern. Possibly something like 'to forget the matter and recover their equilibrium'.
Para.10, (Begin:) ... 'Fouled his own pitch and no mistaking it.' [Yes, well etc.] LOSE 'The scandal', ADD 'That business with the horse whip'. LOSE 'Then there was his book ... French and', ADD 'He could have gained considerable recognition as a writer too. But he queered that pitch as well if that's the word. The Caliph of Vathek. He wrote it in French for some silly reason.' [Entrusted etc.] LOSE 'its true author', ADD 'Beckford'. LOSE 'And so ... peerage', ADD 'Overnight he flagitiously schemed himself out of a peerage ... a literary reputation ... and just about every other damned prospect besides them.'
Page 23, para.2, I'm worried at the name change. Why not call her 'Lotty Hamilton'?
Para.4, 'Never mind ... the end'. I feel this is all too late 20th century woman's magaziney. Para.5, 'Oh Christina ... bear', ditto. Para.6 and Para.7, ditto. 'Gutter Press' is, as far as I know, of far more recent vintage. And 'Twaddle', although indeed already in use as a slang word at that date, doesn't have a very 'period' feel to me. Para.11, ditto.
Page 24, para.16, see earlier note about mask.
Page 25, para.2, Did he order or was the ship putting in there anyway (as I think they did then usually for their final provisioning before crossing the Atlantic)?
Para.10, 'honking voice ... laughing', not quite malicious enough for Beckford, I feel, nor imaginative enough.
Page 26, para.2, 'You are just like in your country'. Meaning possibly obscure to our audience.
Page 27, para.4, 'frozen ... inferior'. A chance for him to say something more waspish and original.
Para.10, 'plans forming', something more Beckfordian and original needed.
Para.16, 'Excellent dimensions'. Different adjective?
Page 28, para.1 etc. Since the design was changing all along, there is a problem about being too close at this point to what was finally achieved. There must be an answer to this. Maybe we can discuss?
Page 29, para.1, line 1, possibly LOSE 'Portuguese', ADD 'foreign'.
Page 30, para.1, The original is cruder. Is there a way we can get closer to the original, without offending our afternoon listeners? AND can we introduce this 'personage' once or twice earlier?
Para.3, LOSE 'Just imagine', ADD 'Even'. LOSE 'to be fixed in place', ADD 'later to be propped up'.
Para.5, LOSE 'The Tower ... hand', ADD 'I've been up there too. It was clear to me it was run up with wattle and daub and rubble. Just about anything that lay to hand. Not proper stone construction at all. Dung and excrement for cement, I wouldn't wonder. And why try to fly from its top so very large a flag? What ostentation. A large flag was not part of my specifications. You should be ashamed!'
Page 31, para.9, see page 1 of these notes.
Para.12, LOSE 'wrong', ADD 'quite inappropriate'.
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