Diva novels

Have YOU heard of diva novels? I haven’t but Mike Ashman, the author of the article “The dawn of the diva” in the July 2009 issue of Limelight magazine, apparentlly has. He writes:

The notion of the singer as victim and seductress moved into literature and, in the next 100 years George Eliot, George Moore, Jules Verne, George du Maurier, James Huneker, Willa Cather and Gaston Leroux all wrote diva novels, often basing their heroines on real-life artists and showing the singers as exploited victims as much as heroines, paying a price for their virtuosity.

Unfortunately, he does not go on to elaborate on any of these, except George du Maurier (grandfather of Daphne) who apparently originated the notion of  Svengali as a manipulative teacher (or coach) in his 1894 novel Trilby. The things you learn!

Cover image courtesy HarperCollins

Cover image courtesy HarperCollins

Anyhow, I can’t say that I’ve read much in the way of diva novels though I have seen on stage and film what is probably the most famous of them, Gaston Leroux’s Phantom of the opera. And, I have read George Eliot’s wonderful Daniel Deronda. Calling it a diva novel, though, seems a bit of a stretch. Off the top of my head, the only other novel I can recollect that features a diva is Ann Patchett’s pleasant (and Orange Prize Award-winning) Bel canto but it doesn’t follow the genre pattern as described by Ashman.

A simple Google search doesn’t come up with diva novels as a genre. Clearly this is a new topic ripe for the picking!


2 thoughts on “Diva novels

  1. Thanks devoted reader. Yes, in fact, at first I wondered whether I’d read the George Eliot he was referring to – and only thinking about the ones I’d read and looking up others did I realise it was DD! I suppose I should have realised but when I think of DD I think more in terms of the relationships, societal issues…

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