FIND in
<--prev V13 next-->

From: adam louis stephanides <astephan@students.uiuc.edu>
Subject: (urth) Puss in Boots; Three Fingers
Date: Sun, 14 Jun 1998 13:48:46 

On Fri, 12 Jun 1998 William H. Ansley wrote:

> >Carabas, sends you greetings."  And disappeared again.  The little animal
> >had a pointed snout and round ears, but its teeth were the even, biting
> >teeth of a human being, and it smiled in its agony.
> To me, at least, the little animal is obviously Mickey Mouse (or possible
> one of the other, similar cartoon mice with pointed snouts, round ears and
> square human teeth). 

Me too!  Of course, V.R.T. doesn't mention the pants or the gloves, but
they could have fallen off in the struggle.

> Wolfe definitely has Mickey on his mind from time to
> time; witness the story "Three Fingers" in _The Island of Doctor Death and
> Other Stories and Other Stories_.

I've been meaning to post about that story for a long time, and you're
mention of it has finally motivated me to shake off my inertia.  (Hence,
this is all from memory.)

The big question, of course, is "What the heck is going on with the
ending?"  I've come up with three possible answers, which I list in
descending order of probability.

1) "Michael Mauss" is insane.  His keepers caught up with him and gave him
a sedative; everything else in the final scene is delusional.  The primary
external evidence for this is that I once looked para-reserpine, the drug
given to him.  I didn't find it, but I found reserpine, which presumably
works the same way.  Reserpine was at one time used as a powerful
tranquilizer, especially for schizophrenics, IIRC (I don't know whether it
was still so used when Wolfe wrote the story).

When I first developed this theory, I wasn't satisfied with it because I
felt that by this reading it wasn't much of a story.  Now I don't think
so.  The point of the story, I now believe, is that Michael is insane but
lives in a world full of magic and adventure, while his sane "adversaries"
live in a world of paunchy men and women in business suits.  It's another
variation of the theme of the individual vs. bureaucracy so common in his

2)  "Michael Mauss" is sane and the "Mickey Mafia" really gets him, just
like it says in the story.  Supporting this is that hallucinations are one
of the side effects of reserpine.  I don't like this because it leaves too
many questions unanswered.  Why would the Disney people dress up as Disney
characters to catch Michael?  And why pretend they're going to kill him?

3) "Michael Mauss" is really Mickey Mouse (and is also sane, as in 2)).
Supporting this is that reserpine is now used as a veterinary
tranquilizer.  This is a cute theory, and it's undoubtedly true in a
metaphorical sense.  But it's not literally true.  Aside from the
objections to 2), Michael is a human being, not a cartoon mouse.

Any comments?  Any better ideas?


*More Wolfe info & archive of this list at http://www.urth.net/urth/

<--prev V13 next-->