​​​​​ANTHONY E. GALLO
agallo2368@verizon.net     202 544 6973

ANTHONY E. GALLO     

202 44 6973   agallo2368@verizon.net

​​THE CABALA

A TWO ACT PLAY

BY ANTHONY e. gALLO


A two act drama about two young  AmericansS in Rome and an elite set of aristocrats, known both mockingly and respectfully as the Cabala. They all have wealth and a burning desire to turn back the clock; to reinstate Kings in Europe’s republics, with the Kings divine right to rule  A full of witty observations and satire on class, etiquette and the ludicrous pretentions of Europe’s old aristocracies, it also carries a thought provoking philosophy on the nature of religion and Gods. Gods of all sorts come and go and with it the power they give and lose to the followers of that God.    

Based on Thornton Wilder's first novel copyrighted in 1922.


Sam, a newly-arrived recent Yale graduate finds himself entertaining a gathering of wealthy and influential Europeans in post-World War 1 Rome. Surprisingly, a legendary  Cardinal encourages him to become a part of the group.

At first Sam feels privileged, but then finds out that the "Cabala" is really a pagan cult comprised largely of insecure, aimless, and superficial people who have quickly come to depend on him.

Sam tries to free himself, but finds that he is hopelessly attached to the group, and is also in love with the unstable and self-destructive Princess Alix. He must also save two other members who are prone to violence.  And all are under the influence of a powerful Cardinal who is both saint and sinner.

In the struggle between good and evil, Sam finds that he is equally attracted to both.  Finally, truth comes to the rescue when he finds a way to escape to  Hollows Corners.
CAST   

Samuele, 23,   American  Yale graduate living in Rome

Carlo, Cardinal Viani, 89(but youthful)

Lucia, 40,  wealthy and devout Roman Catholic European aristocrat 

Ottima, 60,  servant and some more

Elizabeth (Miss Grier) , 50,    Wealthy  American spinster

Giovanna, The Duchess d'Aquilanera,  (55) Mother of Marcantonio

Marcantonio, 23,  Giovanna's sexually promiscuous son 

Alix, unhappily married French princess in love with James 

 Jane, Countess  Bernstein, 50,   wealthy French woman

James Blair, 23,  Samuel's  Roommate

Lucia, 40,  wealthy and devout Roman Catholic European aristocrat 

Virgil, Ancient Roman Poet


ABOUT THE BOOK -
In Wilder's first novel, The Cabala (1926), Samuele, an American student, spends a year in the fabulously decadent world of post-World War I Rome. He experiences first-hand the waning days of a secret community--a "cabala" composed of decaying European royalty, eccentric expatriate Americans, even a great cardinal of the Roman Church. The vivid portraits he paints of these characters, whom he views as the vestigial representatives of the gods and goddesses of Ancient Rome, launched Thornton Wilder's career as a celebrated storyteller and literary stylist." 'Samuele' an American in Rome-which in turn is in a Europe struggling to make it into the 20th century-is introduced to an elite set of aristocrats, known both mockingly and repectfully as the Cabala. They all have wealth and a burning desire to turn back the clock; to reinstate Kings in Europes republics, with the Kings divine right to rule (this was the case in Tsarist Russia up to 1917!). As Wilder puts it;"(The Cabala) lose sleep over notions that the rest of the world has outgrown several centuries ago." But for the new to flourish, the old must die.... A short book full of witty obsevations and satire on class,etiquette and the ludicrous pretentions of Europes old aristocracies,it also carries a thought provoking philosophy on the nature of religion and Gods.Gods of all sorts come and go and with it the power they give and lose to the followers of that God. The Roman Gods are long dead (or have morphed)to be replaced by our current single God, started by the Jews and then altered via various new prophets into the offshoots of Christianity and Islam....these in turn being fragmented into all sorts of different sects each with their own version of God.The old European God of the Catholic states giving divine powers to his chosen,losing out to the new Protestant God who is more democratic about things.The old worlds and the new. All these ideas flood into your mind on reading Wilder's intelligent witty and erudite novella. Who knows (God only?!)what God we'll be worshipping 3000 years from now, but we'll have Wilder's 'Cabala' to amuse us about it! 1.       'Samuele' an American in Rome-which in turn is in a Europe struggling to make it into the 20th century-is introduced to an elite set of aristocrats, known both mockingly and repectfully as the Cabala. 2.       They all have wealth and a burning desire to turn back the clock; to reinstate Kings in Europes republics, with the Kings divine right to rule (this was the case in Tsarist Russia up to 1917!). 3.       As Wilder puts it;"(The Cabala) lose sleep over notions that the rest of the world has outgrown several centuries ago." 4.       But for the new to flourish, the old must die.... A short book full of witty observations and satire on class, etiquette and the ludicrous pretentions of Europe’s old aristocracies, it also carries a thought provoking philosophy on the nature of religion and Gods. 5.       Gods of all sorts come and go and with it the power they give and lose to the followers of that God. 6.       The Roman Gods are long dead (or have morphed)to be replaced by our current single God, started by the Jews and then altered via various new prophets into the offshoots of Christianity and Islam....these in turn being fragmented into all sorts of different sects each with their own version of God.The old European God of the Catholic states giving divine powers to his chosen. 7.       Losing out to the new Protestant God who is more democratic about things.The old worlds and the new. 8.      All these ideas flood into your mind on reading Wilder's intelligent witty and erudite novella. 9.       Who knows (God only?!)what God we'll be worshipping 3000 years from now, but we'll have Wilder's 'Cabala' to amuse us about it!   1.       I chanced upon Wilder when I had almost given up on finding readable modern works, uncontaminated by the Hemingway school of chiarascuro journalism. 2.       He is vaguely reminiscent of both Henry James and Lawrence Durrell in the sensuous way he limns almost every sentence at three levels of meaning: the superficial, the witty truism and the emblem. 3.       If only the Cabal had a smidgen more in it of plot, and less of Proust, it would be a masterpiece. As it is, it reminds one of Woolf's Orlando - a great work that disappears at times, all too preciously, into its own navel.   1.       When Samuele, a student and writer, goes to Rome with his friend James Blair, Blair introduces him to a group of strange people known as the Cabalists. 2.       As he gets to know them Samuele gets more involved with their activities, and on the surface they seem very mysterious and odd: a priest who doesn't believe in prayer, a 16-yearold boy who commits suicide after committing incest with his sister, 3.       and a girl who believes she is the god Mercury. In fact, she reveals who the Cabalists really are to Samuele: 4.       they are the pagan gods of ancient Rome, grown old and useless now, thanks mainly to their human-like weaknesses. Just before sailing back to America, 5.        Samuele has a "conversation" with Virgil (or at least his spirit), a rather sophomoric complaint by Virgil against Milton and Shakespeare for not "honoring" him enough. 6.       It's part of Wilder's satire, but that particular scene is unfortunately weak. The importance of the book goes beyond the storyline and the characters, neither of which seem that compelling or memorable, and rests on Wilder's attention to style and form, which is as classic and formal as the ancients themselves.   (I became aquainted with this novel shortly after reading Wilder's later and more famous novel "The Bridge of San Luis Rey". That is also well worth reading by the way. ...Initially I simply liked it but shortly before reaching the middle of the book I became 100% entranced. And I think you will too! Bur there are things that you will have to be ready for. Basically this is a book for people who love to admire literary construction. If you are a DEVOUT Hemingway person this will not please you. Wilder writes long and descriptive paragraphs and describes his characters down to the tiniest detail. The reason I love this is because he so obviously cared about what he was writing. If you're like me and tired of the stream-lined effect of much of "modern" writing you will love this. Even if this jewel-like prose is not your cup of tea perhaps you can still appreciate what I find a forgotten masterpiece) So what is it about? 1.       Well to begin with it concerns a young, unnamed American student who is pursuing his Archeological/Classical studies in Rome between the wars. 2.       Here he runs into a strange group of people known locally as the Cabala. 3.       They are made up mainly of aristocrats and have great prestige if little real power. "Samuele" (as the student is called by one of the Cabalists) proceeds to chronicle this group's last exploits. 4.        Last because the group begins to drift apart right in front of "Samuele". 5.        What is the book really about? Well I for one am still figuring that out. The Cabalists are to a certain extent symbolic of decadent and dying but still important and lovely Europe while "Samuele" represents the "new Rome" America. 6.       But Wilder goes far deeper than that. I really don't want to spoil anything ·         but certain themes that are raised are acceptance (of change, death, etc.), ·          unrequited love, ·          the reasons behind love, loss of faith and the nature of a civilization's construction. 7.       That sounds like alot but Wilder manages to ballance it brilliantly and create a huge number of great characters and interweaving storylines. 8.      All of this is expressed in some of the most lovely prose I've ever read. You can just loose yourself in the warm sea of Wilder's writing. Sample: " 9.       As a mere girl, if I may presume to reconstruct the growth of her personality, she sensed the fact that there was something that a little prevented her from making friends, namely intelligence. The few intelligent people who truly wish to be liked soon learn, among the disappointments of the heart, to conceal their brilliance." This is the start of a charachter's description. All of which in this book are magical. Wilder creates people who are real yet we truly love with all our hearts. That is the key to some of this book's greatness. Much of the love thrown around in this book is un-earned and yet it is love all the same. Why do we love some people and not others? 10.   Why do we love people who don't deserve it? There are no answers in words but this book SHOWS us how and why that happens. This could only be done by an author who had a truly mature and yet warm heart. 11.     "Samuele" and Wilder pull no punches in pointing out flaws yet they do so with deep and profound love and understanding. This leads to lines that can simply pierce the heart: "They dreamed of one of those long conversations that one never has on earth, but which one projects so clearly at midnight, alone and wise; words are not rich enough nor kisses sufficiently compelling to repair all our havoc." Those words define both the futility and the absolute necessity of forgiveness and reconciliation. Wilder also knows history, music, literature and art FAR better than most writers and with that at his fingertips he can often rise to an amazing quiet eloquence: "Nay, I have heard of your city. It's foundations have knocked upon our roof and the towers have cast a shadow across the sandals of the angels." I could go on forever and ever but I'll just mention the amazing, breathtaking end a little. One thing: it features an cameo that you won't soon forget! Find this book, read it and make it a part of your life. You will not regret it! _________________________________________________ TONY Lots of people took great pleasure in lambasting Thornton Wilder's inclusion on the Modern Library list of the 100 greatest novels of the twentieth century. Setting aside that publicity stunt, Wilder is an underrated writer, whose finest books, such as THE BRIDGE OF SAN LUIS REY and the wonderful THEOPHILUS NORTH, mingle shrewd observation, fine and wistful writing, and profound insight into the human heart. THE CABALA was Wilder's first novel, written when he was in his late twenties and appearing the year before his most famous book THE BRIDGE OF SAN LUIS REY. It chronicles a young man's sojourn in Rome and his involvement with a mysterious group of eccentric and charming individuals who are known as the Cabala. In many ways, THE CABALA presages THEOPHILUS NORTH -- in its sharply observed yet movingly nostalgic depiction of its setting (Rome), in its affectionate yet shrewd portraits of the men and women who make up the Cabala, and in its deft storytelling of each of the linked incidents into which Wilder's narrator finds himself drawn as he gets to know the Cabala more and more intimately. The indescribable last chapter presages magic realism -- and, for my money, is better than any of the more ponderous and better-known recent examples of the genre. In sum, this early novel by a fine yet under-appreciated writer is well worth reading and may well (and should) spur the reader to explore more of Wilder's works. __________________________________              A young American student spends a year in the exotic world of post-World War I Rome. While there, he experiences firsthand the waning days of a secret community (a "cabala") of decaying royalty, a great cardinal of the Roman Church, and an assortment of memorable American ex-pats. The Cabala, a semiautobiographical novel of unforgettable characters and human passions, launched Wilder's career as a celebrated storyteller and dramatist.     Wilder's first novel, written at age 26 after he had spent a year at the American school in Rome. A portrait of bored and decadent aristocracy in Rome between the wars. Characters drawn in great detail, but somehow they never came alive for me. The tone of the narrator is irritating--a very young man trying very hard to persuade the reader of his immense erudition by describing all the art and artists he encounters with barely concealed condescension. But then in what amounts to an afterword ent...moreWilder's first novel, written at age 26 after he had spent a year at the American school in Rome. A portrait of bored and decadent aristocracy in Rome between the wars. Characters drawn in great detail, but somehow they never came alive for me. The tone of the narrator is irritating--a very young man trying very hard to persuade the reader of his immense erudition by describing all the art and artists he encounters with barely concealed condescension. But then in what amounts to an afterword entitled "The Dusk of the Gods" we are given the suggestion that all the characters we have seen are the worn-out incarnations of ancient Roman deities, and that the narrator himself is the incarnation of Mercury, the founder of language and eloquence, and also the guide of souls to the underworld. Suddenly all that has gone before becomes enlarged. And there is a beautiful evocation of Virgil's poetry in a long description of nightfall on the Mediterranean, as the narrator sails away from Rome on his way back to America.(less) Wilder's writing style, which to me seems fairly fresh considering how old it is, this story didn't compel me. I did get through it, but it took a while, as every other book I was reading took precedence. I found it hard to care about rich and powerful (okay, maybe only in their own minds) people in Italy who throw parties and histrionic fits in equal measure. This is Wilder before he matured as a writer, rather full of himself, but giving us a peek of the promise that would produce...moreWhile I like Wilder's writing style, which to me seems fairly fresh considering how old it is, this story didn't compel me. I did get through it, but it took a while, as every other book I was reading took precedence. I found it hard to care about rich and powerful (okay, maybe only in their own minds) people in Italy who throw parties and histrionic fits in equal measure. This is Wilder before he matured as a writer, rather full of himself, but giving us a peek of the promise that would produce Our Town and Bridge of San Luis Rey. An interesting picture of high society "doing the European Tour" post-WWI, but not as engaging as it could b   The Cabala   "From the earliest pages of his first novels and plays, Wilder examined the universal quandaries encapsulated in the questions the young man Pamphilus asks in The Woman of Andros: "How does one live? What does one do first?" --Penelope Niven, Foreword to The Cabala and The Woman of Andros "Thornton Wilder invited readers into a global arena when he set each of his first three novels in exotic times and places--Italy, Peru and Greece. Of the three destinations, he had spent nearly a year as a student in Italy, but he had yet to visit Peru or Greece, except in an imagination informed by the rich traditions of classical and European literature, including writers as varied as Terence (190-158 BC) and Marcel Proust (1871-1922). No matter where and when Wilder's novels take place, his characters grapple with universal questions about the nature of human existence. In Wilder's first novel, The Cabala (1926), Samuele, an American student, spends a year in the fabulously decadent world of post-World War I Rome. He experiences first-hand the waning days of a secret community--a "cabala" composed of decaying European royalty, eccentric expatriate Americans, even a great cardinal of the Roman Church. The vivid portraits he paints of these characters, whom he views as the vestigial representatives of the gods and goddesses of Ancient Rome, launched Thornton Wilder's career as a celebrated storyteller and literary stylist." When Astree Luce and the Cardinal discovered that they were living in a world where such things could be forgiven, that no actions were too complicated but that love could understand, or dismiss them, on that day they began their lives all over again. This reconciliation was never put into words, in fact it remained to the end merely in a state of hope. They longed to see one another again, but it would have been impossible. They dreamed of one of those long conversations that one never has on earth, but which one projects so easily at midnight, alone and wise; words are not rich enough nor kisses sufficiently compelling to repair all our havoc.” “All gods and heroes are by nature the enemies of Christianity – a faith trailing its aspirations and remorses and in whose presence every man is a failure. Only a broken will can enter the Kingdom of Heaven. Finally tired out with the cult of themselves they give in. They go over. They renounce
themselves.“