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Back to the Book Club!

Today's questions are about one of my favorite characters, the only one who goes through the ages with memory fully intact, Mik-el, Michael.

Throughout the novel Elza is visited by an otherworldly being, who gradually reveals himself to be the Archangel Michael. In Roman Catholic teachings, Michael is the Angel of Death and the fierce defender of the faithful against evil—including one’s own nature. How do you interpret his role in Elza’s life? In your opinion, what does the Archangel Michael want from Elza, and why has he chosen her to see him?

What do you guys think?


( 6 comments — Leave a comment )
Nov. 10th, 2012 05:54 pm (UTC)
Interesting that you would post this on All Saints' Day - aka the Day of the Dead. :-)

I would start by answering that perhaps Roman Catholic teachings are not all there is to Mik-el, as we did first meet him in Hand of Isis (pre-RC, to say the least). He almost seems to me to be connected in a personal way with Alexander/Caesar/Napoleon, and perhaps it is because of the warrior aspect. Warrior for what? Perhaps for justice, for Liberté, Égalité, et Fraternité, eh? For the ideals of a just social life.

I was in Ajjaccio over the summer, and visited NB's birthhouse; it is a museum now, with a few of the rooms having been reconstituted the way they would have appeared in the period. Very interesting, and I can so imagine The General's Mistress taking place in such a setting!
Nov. 11th, 2012 01:39 pm (UTC)
Not an accident that I posted on the Day of the Dead, no! :)

That's a very good point about meeting him much earlier -- back in Black Ships in 1180 BC when he was already protecting the just. This is his guise, his name now, but he's been around for a long time. Certainly that's about the point where he entered Jewish stories, long before there was Christianity!

I think at some point in the past he chose to connect himself with this story, with The Emperor's Tale, perhaps in an effort to steer it to the good. (I've been sketching some on the book where that happens, five hundred years before Black Ships, with a girl named Tia and a boy who can't talk and a very small god....)

I would love to go to Corsica! It must have been a wonderful trip.
Nov. 11th, 2012 02:00 pm (UTC)
It was brilliant! It is such a beautiful place, which has been said many times. :-) Organized crime (not necessarily the Mafia) is a strong presence, though, and a prominent human rights lawyer was assassinated while we were there.

Tia and her friends sound very interesting....

Edited at 2012-11-11 02:01 pm (UTC)
Nov. 12th, 2012 09:29 am (UTC)
That story is set at the very end of and immediately after the Amarna period in Egypt. It's the first time that Mik-el meets Gull.
Dec. 3rd, 2012 01:58 am (UTC)
Michel is such a perfect apostle/avatar/something of Mik-el. That pragmatic self-knowledge...I feel like perhaps Elza, like France, needs to be defended from the part of human nature that tends toward chaos and lack of purpose: like that argument at the beginning of the book between the two men about whether the kind of freedom France has is worthwhile or whether it will always lead to another Terror. I think both sides of that argument are valid: freedom is both necessary and dangerous. And it takes a clear-eyed defender who is certain of where the line is to keep the inherent evil from overtaking the inherent good.

On another note: how much of Elza pointing out the feminist slant of the French Revolution to the men she meets is true to Ida St. Elme's memoirs, and how much of it is your experiences and opinions?
Dec. 3rd, 2012 02:11 pm (UTC)
Yes! "Freedom is both necessary and dangerous." There are people who will use that freedom to be Moreau. And people who will use it to be Michel.

I think it's mostly her. She's very aware of the freedoms she had because when she's writing the memoirs in the 1820s she's lost those freedoms again. Although it's not as severe in France, we're moving into Victorian backlash. So she's very aware of the comparison she's making, and I think that's part of the political underpinnings of her books. Her books are extremely political, but she's veiled her discussion of ideas in scandal and sex. This is a racy, tell-all memoir, not a political manifesto! Sure! That doesn't keep her from being banned by the censors anyway, but it did broaden her audience!
( 6 comments — Leave a comment )