‘He Who Listens May Hear – To His Regret: Confidence Of A Confidence’ by Juana Manuela Gorriti

He Who Listens May Hear – To His Regret: Confidence Of A Confidence by Juana Manuela Gorriti, 1865

The magic trick:

Using a real – and mundane – object to shift reality

This is one witch and one lion away from being The Lion, The Witch And The Wardrobe. That is to say that a wardrobe features prominently in the plot. A man takes up hiding in a mysterious room with vines covering the door. There is a government plot in the works. He winds up falling in love with a woman he doesn’t know and can’t see. He can hear her, but where is she? It turns out the armoire is a kind of magic portal into her world. And maybe it isn’t even magic. Maybe it just is perfectly located between two rooms. I’m not entirely clear on that point. It doesn’t matter, though, because the effect is magic. He is transported, if not physically then emotionally. It’s a neat effect, using a real object like that to change a character’s reality. And that’s quite a trick on Manuela Gorriti’s part.

The selection:

“From my first night in that room, I heard – without being able to determine exactly from where – a voice, the soft and beautiful voice of a woman intermingled with the voices of men. When she appeared to be alone, she read prose and poetry aloud, as Rachel must have recited, and like Malibrán she sang the most sublime pieces from the contemporary repertoire, among them, a Schubert serenade whose solemn notes wove a heavenly melody.

“I spent several days investigating, listening at the gilded molding that was the mounting for the tapestries, tapping on the walls, and searching everywhere for the source from which that voice was issuing.

“I concluded, finally, that when I approached a large armoire standing in one corner of the room I heard the voice more clearly and at a closer range, and looked no further. …”

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