Friday, November 9, 2012

The Aesthetic of the Night Circus

Tonight, I am thrilled to be attending Minnesota Public Radio's Talking Volumes, a radio program that "spotlights books with feature articles, live broadcasts with the author, in-person readings and discussions, and more." Tonight's guest is Erin Morgenstern, author of the fantastic book The Night Circus.  I completely agree with what Kat Howard said in her review of this book for us last December--rather than simply repeat what Kat has already said, I want to focus today on one specific aspect of the novel: its aesthetic.

As the title suggests, The Night Circus is the story of an amazing, actually magical circus; while the main plot of the story focuses on two illusionists named Celia and Marco, for me, the most magical, evocative portions of the book are the descriptions of the circus itself.  I was particularly drawn to the description of the clock that stands at the entrance to the circus:
At first glance it is simply a clock, a rather large black clock with a white face and a silver pendulum.  Well crafted, obviously, with intricately carved woodwork edges and a perfectly painted face, but just a clock.

But that is before it is wound.  Before it beings to tick, the pendulum swinging steadily and evenly.  Then, then it becomes something else. (Morgenstern 69)
This clock is pictured on a the cover of the novel, a cover that perfectly expresses the black and white aesthetic of the entire circus, with hints of red thrown in for accents.  This is the aesthetic that is adopted by those in the book who become devotees of the circus, following it around the world as it comes and goes without warning.  And it is this aesthetic, even more than that plot itself, that has stayed with me, long after I finished reading the novel.

That is why I am not surprised at how much creativity the novel has inspired in its readers.  Here is a quick look at some of the wonderful creations inspired by The Night Circus:

  • A wonderful black rose ring, with a hint of red at the very center.
  • A wine glass, painted with black and white swirls.
  • A field bag, adorned with the name of the circus and images of Marco and Celia.
  • A beautiful purse made out of the novel itself. 
  • A wonderful dress, perfect if you're able to find the circus and attend it yourself.
My favorites, though, are the jewelry:
  • There is this set of matching necklace and earrings (pictured on the right), designed by Christen at the shop "Beads by the Book" at Etsy.
  • And there's also this glass bead bracelet--I particularly like the graceful swirls within each bead, which offsets the solidity of the beads themselves.  This necklace creates a similar effect, both with the beads and the metal circles.
I am also very intrigued by this hat that's a hair clip (pictured on the left), designed by Diane Felton at the shop "templebeautiful" at Etsy.  I'm not quite sure how it would look on me, but I'm very tempted to buy it and find out.

I find many books to be creative, but I think it's a rare book that creates such room for its readers to be so creative themselves.