One of the criticisms levelled against Lady G was that sections of the sequence were "unconvincing". Recently I read a review of a novel which used the same strange criticism.
Here’s a true story. Decide for yourself if it’s “convincing”….
Carlo Geusaldo 1560 -1613 is remembered today, if at all, as composer of music that seems far ahead of its time. It’s beautiful, or at least I think so. He has also been suggested as one of the prototypes of Browning’s Duke in “My Last duchess”…
His life however….
Made Duke on the death of his older brother he was already a respected musician and composer. His marriage was a grand affair; two thousand oysters and 120 roasted goats in a banquet of 120 something courses. His new wife was one of the leading beauties of her day, possibly Leonardo’s model for the Moaning Lisa. Married at fifteen her first husband had died “of an excess of Connubial bliss’. Her second hubby went the same way.
Soon after her marriage to Guesaldo one of his relatives makes a pass at her and learns he has been beaten to it in the extra-connubial bliss stakes. Rebuffed, he tells Guesaldo about her affair. Guesaldo now plans the murder and catching the lovers together kills the man (who is dressed, rather oddly, in a woman’s night dress) and stabs his wife. Running out the house he is said to have stopped and said..she can’t really be dead..so ran back inside and stabbed her over twenty times. He then dumped, or had dumped, the dead bodies on the steps to his palace…where they were randomly “molested” by a passing monk.
G flees the scene of the crime for the family home, where he spends the next couple of months cutting down all the trees.
Convinced his second son isn’t his, he decides to get rid of it. He does this, so the story goes, by sitting him on a swing dangling from a balcony and having his attendants keeping the swing going for three days and nights. Being a noted musician and lover of music of course, he hires a choir to sing while the swinging is going on: they sing madrigals about the beauty of death.
It seems he was not prosecuted for the murder of his wife and her lover.
He remarries but treats his new wife so badly so runs away. He spends the last dozen plus years of his life in seclusion, making sure his servants beat him regularly. HE also employs one of them to sleep with him to keep his back warm.
He dies..doesn’t everybody…and apparently you can choose your version of his death. He dies of asthma...or he dies of infections caused by the severe and repeated floggings administered by his servants.
I didn’t make any of this up. But how convincing would it be if I did?