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From: Peter Stephenson <pws@ifh.de>
Subject: Re: (urth) Severian's reticence
Date: Wed, 17 Jun 1998 14:47:28 +0200

adam louis stephanides wrote:
> 2) What does this quirk tell us about Severian?  Other quirks in his
> narration have been explained by his allegedly perfect memory, but I don't
> see how that would account for this.
> 3) What explains, in particular, his suppression of the sexual
> relationship between himself and Thecla?

This is certainly a fascinating question.  I would hazard that in the
cases of Dorcas and Thecla it shows Severian has a mental quirk of
pigeonholing people, and particularly women.  So, as you say, he likes
to think of his relationship with Thecla as entirely pure, and that
with Dorcas as entirely loving, and writes the narrative in this
fashion.  (Maybe the Chekhov's Gun principle would say, if a character
has a perfect memory you expect them to abuse it by the end of volume

Where he admits to feeling strong sexual desire (Agia, the undine on
the sandbar) it sometimes causes associated negative feelings, though
I can't remember well enough to say how Jolenta fits into this.
There's probably a lot of pop psychology to get out of all this ---
blah blah repressed childhood blah blah substitute mother figures blah
blah need for understanding blah blah vell, severian's just zis guy,
you know? --- but before I fall into the deep end I'll just point out
the connection with Silk, his feelings towards sex described on the
airship and his selective view of (damn, I can't remember her name now
and the book's across town, but you know who I mean, the one with the
catachrest), as described, rather startingly, by Horn at the end of
Exodus.  (So, you ignore her bad points, do you?  Vell, zis is
certainly very interesting behaviour for a Calde.)


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