Between Rolfe and Corvo : Life in the Margins of Make-Believe


MIKEŠ Michal

Year of publication 2020
Type Appeared in Conference without Proceedings
MU Faculty or unit

Faculty of Arts

Description When Frederick Rolfe as ‘Don Friderico’ designs an ecclesiastical procession in his tale “Doing Little, Lavishly”, his savage ‘divels’, all those boys he had befriended during his time in Italy, masquerade as the Seven Sleepers. Despite employing standard Roman Catholic imagery in this masquerade, Rolfe ever accentuates that the costumes used are of his own unique fashioning—two aspects that also provide a fitting reflection on Rolfe’s life at this transition. To escape his failure as a seminarian, Rolfe self-fashioned himself into Baron Corvo, a complex make-believe that also defined his relationships, real or fictive, as with his constant search for the ‘Divine Friend, Unknown, Most Desired’. Not surprisingly, Rolfe’s novel identity was never widely accepted, even by his few friends, which led him to become a liminal person who was, paradoxically, neither Rolfe nor Corvo, while at the same time both. That Rolfe depended on make-believe to define and structure his life is apparent from his various autobiographical works. This presentation will consider how those works, traditionally glossed over even by his biographers, illuminate fundamental aspects of his fascinating personality.
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