Disraeli prefaces Ixion in Heaven by revealing the source of the story of Ixion, allowing the reader to discern Disraeli’s imaginative inventions. In legend, Deioneus steals some of Ixion’s horses. Ixion invites him to dinner and throws him to his death in a pit of burning coals. In Disraeli’s version, the killing is more or less accidental, and the double dealing concerning horses involves a racetrack. Significantly, though, in legend as in Disraeli’s novel, Ixion was granted a favor and should therefore have been appreciative. He proves himself, on the contrary, to be surly, deceptive, and covetous, not only insulting the hosts table and court but also seducing his hosts wife. Because it is this aspect of the legend that remains intact, Ixion in Heaven, in addition to being a delightful political satire, becomes a moral tale.
In terms of style and tone, Ixion in Heaven, like Disraeli’s other early works, is distinctly in the mode of Voltaire’s Candide (1759). The resemblance is recognizable in such understatements as Ixion’s comment to Jove concerning Dias homicidal intentions toward him for the murder of her father: “She certainly was the best of daughters.” It is likely that as a political burlesque, Ixion in Heaven is a roman à clef in the style of his other work of the period, such as Vivian Grey (1826-1827) and two works with which Ixion in Heaven is usually published, The Voyage of Captain Popanilla (1828), which satirizes political circumstances and personalities from the economists to the duke of Wellington, and The Infernal Marriage (1833), in...
(The entire section is 685 words.)