Harmonia Caelestis is the product of a decade of labour: a monumental, part-autobiographical family history. If Helping Verbs of the Heart was an homage to his mother, then this is a memorial to his father. It is actually two works in one. Book 1, "Numbered Sentences from the Life of the Esterházy Family", comprises 371 paragraphs, some elusively succinct, others pages long, that amount to a gloriously kaleidoscopic romp through the centuries that lie behind this European dynasty. Not that the name Esterházy is ever uttered: the main protagonist of each episode is invariably identified as "my father", whether he is an anti-Habsburg Kuruc insurrectionist or a Habsburg-loyal Labanc, a hammer of the Ottomans, a dying old man, a prisoner of war, a lord charming enough to enchant Goethe himself, or a childless man, to mention but a few of "my fathers", all evoked through the language and literature proper to each persona. This strategy of anonymity allows Esterházy to extend his typically vast net of quotations to sources that originally have no family connotations whatsoever, thereby lending broader significance to the particulars of this one family, however grand, and, vice versa, appropriating the general (European) experience to the family's specific circumstances. The baroquely exuberant proliferation of anecdotal gleanings and fragments of real and fictional history, drawing on a gamut of written genres, from maxims to parables, from confessional autobiography to the account books and chronicles, is ultimately threaded together by an unobtrusive, profoundly witty and wise philosophical vein.
Elissa Huels @ptorphy_308
June 26, 2021
CELESTIAL HARMONIES evoked emotion. This was a smooth flowing story with lots of action and very likeable characters. This was a great example of the genre.