FIND in
<--prev V15 next-->

From: "Alice Turner" <al@interport.net>
Subject: (urth) Re: Digest urth.v015.n004
Date: Sat, 27 Jun 1998 18:48:30 


>Thanks for the responses so far, although I'd still like some information
>on the homunculus.
>As for my not 'getting' the Little Severian sequence: I originally read
>parts of tBotNS when I was far too young to understand it properly. I
>did, however, remember how Little Severian died.
>This sequence is, IMO, one of the simplest uses of shock in tBotNS, not
>following the usual methods of foreshadowing or retrospective
>Little Severian's death seems to be unusually timed, part-way between
>leaving him a bit-player and expanding him to a secondary character. So,
>when I reread this knowing when he would die, it fell flat.

Thanks for bringing this up again because I have a little theory about this
that I forgot to post last time.  We've often discussed the "other"
Severians and how many there are of them (his seeming deaths and
resurrections, Apu-Punchau etc.) Well, it seems to me that Li'l Sev is a
kind of spare, a just-in-case. If Sev had touched that ring first, the child
would have somehow grown up to be him. Baldanders, too, has a "spare," whom
we meet only for an instant (it seems to me far more likely that the giant
baby is a "spare" than a catamite, though he could be both).

As for the homunculus, he seems to me to be a tribute. First to Goethe, who
has a memorable homunculus in a bottle (he escapes) in "Faust Part II."
Second, to Eliot, who heads "The Waste Land" with a Latin quote that,
translated, reads, "Yes, I myself saw at Cumis the sybil hanging in a cage,
and when the boys cried at her, 'Sybil, sybil, what do you want?" she
responded, "I would that I were dead."

This comes from Ovid. I looked it up once for mantis, but was too dumb to
scribble the citation into my Eliot (mantis, are you there, can you help?)
and I don't have time to do it again now, besides my Ovid seems to be
misshelved. But the story is the old one of the mortal who asks for
immortality and forgets to ask for eternal youth. Eliot being another of
those pesky converted Catholics, it probably has several meanings for
him---he's at least as tricky as Wolfe.

Note a nice link, therefore, between the Cumaean--the sybil who leads Virgil
into the underworld, as Virgil will lead Dante--and the homunculus. I have
another theory that our Cumaean may turn out to be an inhumus! But I'm sort
of kidding there. (Not entirely.)


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

<--prev V15 next-->