Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Lost inside a diamond . . .

At the climax of Valhalla, Paul Rudnick offers a kind of synthesis of Ludwig's palaces rather than any kind of accurate tour. James and Henry Lee first visit the Schloss Linderhof, describing it as "a huge, demented wedding cake" and venturing into its famous underground "Venus grotto" (see post below). They later wander over to Neuschwanstein; in between, however, they seem to wake up in the Herrenchiemsee Neues Schloss ("New Palace"), Ludwig's "recreation" of Versailles (Ludwig seemed to divide his time between idolizing the mythical Lohengrin and the all-too-real Louis XIV).

This is physically impossible, as the Herrenchiemsee, as it is usually known, is on an island in the middle of the largest lake in Bavaria, and is only accessible by ferry. But what the hey - since Rudnick plays relentlessly with time, I suppose he can play with space, too. The Herrenchiemsee never reached the size of Versailles - only the central portion of the initial design, by Christian Jank, Franz Seitz, and Georg Dollman, was built - but it is obviously an imitation of the Sun King's palace, and features a similar (though not nearly as extensive) park, replete with baroque fountains and gardens. One feature of the Neues Schloss, however, actually surpassed in size its model at Versailles - the Hall of Mirrors (above). In Valhalla, the characters describe it as "like being lost inside a diamond," and the ghost of Marie Antoinette herself appears to compliment Ludwig on his creation.

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