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From: m.driussi@genie.geis.com
Subject: (urth) Squares of the City
Date: Mon, 30 Mar 98 02:40:00 GMT

[Posted from URTH, a mailing list about Gene Wolfe's New Sun and other works]

Reply:  Item #7497439 from URTH@LISTS.BEST.COM@INET00#


Re: Algedonic, whoops.  I meant that "Latinate" (or more properly
"Greco-Latinate") names are officialese titles for quarters (not
that "algedonic" was a generic term) that are never used by ordinary
citizens of the quarter (who use the "living name" based upon local
features), thus when the quarter is recently dead it is known only
by this officialese name; and when it is long dead it has no name at

Algedonic means "pertaining to pain, especially when associated with
pleasure" (MRS. BYRNE'S).  Roche tells Severian that their alibi is:
they are optimates who, having finished business at the Citadel, are
now going to amuse themselves at the brothel.  This suggests that
such behavior is common.  But I hasten to agree with you that the
quarter's northern boundary shifts depending upon who is talking:
denizens of the Citadel think of it as a quarter unto itself; people
across the river think of the Citadel as something else, part of the
Algedonic Quarter or worse, i.e., omophagist ruins (IIRC).
("Omophagist" is "Greek-Greek[English]," again an example of what I'm
calling the officialese language.)

In a sense this naming of quarters is like the naming of guilds and
orders: there is the official name ("Seekers of Truth and Penitence")
and the common name ("[commonly known as] the torturers").  But another
quality of Greco-Latinate titles for districts of the city is to make
it seem (to me at least) more like realms of a netherworld (a nod to
THE INFERNO and all its Greco-Roman sources: with rivers "Phlegethon"
and all that).  "Algedonic Quarter" sounds like a ring of hell for a
certain kind of sexual sinner: algophilics anonymous?

You are right--the House Absolute is littered with the same sort of
Greco-Latinate zones, furthering my impulse about the officialese.
(There are also the more prosaic "Well of Green Chimes," "Well of
Orchids," etc.  Then again, given the unusual chthonic architecture
of the House Absolute, these "wells" [ring-ring-ring, "What is THE
TIME MACHINE?"] amount to "gates": another category of names.)


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