Eisenheim was born to a cabinet-maker and became interested in magic after meeting a travelling magician. He also fell in love with Sophie, the Duchess von Teschen , but the two were forbidden to see each other on account of the former being a peasant. They kept meeting secretly but were caught one day and separated by force. Eisenheim proceeded to study magic by travelling the world, and fifteen years later returned to Vienna to perform. During one performance, he encounters the adult Sophie and learns that she is expected to marry the Crown Prince Leopold, who, it is rumored, is brutal towards women and in the past even murdered one.
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Man, that was weird. Well, if you ask me, there was no comparison. The Illusionist was wayyy better than The Prestige, and we have this amazing Millhauser story as explanation. And before I really get started here, can I please just say: how awesome is it that we finally have a short story magic trick about a magic trick short story?!?!
OK, so, back to Eisenheim. This is a biography. As a result, the brief bits of personal information become like gold to the reader who is eagerly trying to figure out the how and why behind his performances. The personal backstory information never substantiates beyond rumor or suggestion, though, leaving the reader tantalizingly unfulfilled. The illusion remains just that. The selection: He was forty or forty-one, an age when a man takes a hard look at his life.
He had never married, although romantic rumors occasionally united him with one or another of his assistants; he was handsome in a stern way, wealthy, and said to be so strong that he could do thirty knee-bends on a single leg. For a year Eisenheim lived like a reclusive country squire. What do you think about this story? Share this:.
‘Eisenheim The Illusionist’ by Steven Millhauser
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