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From: adam louis stephanides <astephan@students.uiuc.edu>
Subject: (urth) Mysteries of 5HC
Date: Thu, 23 Jul 1998 12:33:12 

On Wed, 22 Jul 1998 Alex David Groce wrote:

> 	Not to discourage these interesting arguments, but it seems to me that
> Wolfe is very probably not "playing fair" in 5HC.  I trust Wolfe, usually to,
> if he seems to invite the reader to consider a question, give the reader enough
> clues to answer it, and be fairly certain of the arrived-at answer's
> correctness.  In 5HC, I think that it's more as if Wolfe has given the reader
> enough rope to hang himself.  I think the answers are intentionally ambigious,
> and that "red herrings" that, interpreted one way are not "red herrings", and
> sometimes even seem to confirm two theories, abound.

This make a lot of sense to me, as does the rest of your excellent post.
It's further confirmed by the very last action in the book, when the
officer finds a spool of tape he'd overlooked and drops it out the window:
it's as if Wolfe is telling us that he's deliberately leaving out vital

I question, though, how much this is unique to 5HC.  I used to have the
same trust in Wolfe as you do, but lately I've been wondering.  While
Wolfe's other work may not involve deliberate deception to the extent 5HC
does, there are certainly many in which the narrator fails to understand
what is going on, and I'm beginning to suspect the ambiguity this produces
may often be unresolvable.  In the "Suzanne Delage" discussion, for
instance, while each of the participants may have been "fairly certain" of
the correctness of his or her solution, none of us seemed to get very far
convincing anyone else.  I've never seen a satisfactory explication of
CASTLEVIEW.  And when mantis himself suggests that we should "stop making
sense" of the first half of URTH, well, then you know there's trouble in
River City.


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

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