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From: Peter Westlake <peter@harlequin.co.uk>
Subject: (urth) Witches and Things in Jars
Date: Mon, 22 Jun 1998 13:12:16 +0100

Adam - thanks for explaining A & M.

The extraterrestrial mind contacted by the Cumaean I took to be
just some ancient Fomalhautian of no other particular significance.
I did wonder if the Cumaean was from Fomalhaut herself and knew it
from back home, but there's no strong evidence for that.

>The second is the scene in _Citadel_ with the homunculus. I have no idea what _this_ is about, other than possibly a reference to the works of Samuel Beckett. _The Encyclopaedia of Science Fiction_ suggests that this is Severianšs sibling, but Merryn seems far more likely from previous discussions here.

I wondered about the homunculus being Severian's sister for a moment
(when it called him "brother"), but then I remembered where he had
found it, among the effects of former Autarchs. I'll have to check
when I get home, but I'm firmly under the impression that all the
stuff in that room was very old, that the room hadn't been used for

Unfortunately, when Severian went on the errand to the Witches'
Tower as a lad, he met someone who looked exactly like Merryn.
So either that was someone else, or she's a lot older than him too.
All the hints about him having a sister suggest a twin sister,
which rather weakens the case for me.

Then there are interviews in which Wolfe himself says that he
isn't sure whether Merryn is Severian's sister!

>"...it represents for me all that monomaniacal fabric of argument, so
>tightly woven that not even the tiniest objection or spark of light can
>escape its net, in which human minds become enmeshed whenever the
>subject is one in which no appeal to fact is possible" - _Sword_, Ch. 38

I *do* like this passage. One of the most amazing things about BotNS
is that Wolfe manages to keep the whole intricate edifice together and
still has time for new insights into the eternal verities. A genius!

Spectacled Bear.

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

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