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From: "William H. Ansley" <wansley@warwick.net>
Subject: Re: (urth) Weer is not dead.
Date: Thu, 27 Aug 1998 00:32:50 

Rostrum (Michael Straight <straight@email.unc.edu>) said:

>> On other
>> theme in the book that I'm fond of (though I've had little luck convincing
>> anyone of this) is solipsism.  Weer's universe seems to exist solely in his
>> thoughts, but his relating of the stories of the dead breathes new life into
>> those old bones.
>I think the very end of the book hints that you are righter than you know.
>The book ends with a reference to the story of the Chinese pillow and with
>a voice calling Dennis to wake up.  I think this is the glimmer of grace
>that redeems the whole book.


Your recollection of the end of the book is a little bit off.

It is time, I think, that I see the enchanted headrest of the Chinese
philosopher looming behind me, and I wait its coming. My aunt's voice on
the intercom says, "Den, darling, are you awake in there?"

_Peace_, p. 264, Orb ed.

Like so many things Wolfe writes this passage seems contradictory. On the
one hand, the reference to the "enchanted headrest of the Chinese
philosopher" seems to indicate that Weer's memories of his life (but from
what point?) were a dream or illusion and didn't happen. But we know from
earlier in the book (p. 64 of the Orb ed.) that when Aunt Olivia say "Den,
darling, are you awake in there?" it is time for Weer to stop reading, put
out his light and go to sleep. So, on the other hand, it seems as if Weer's
restless spirit may finally be going to its final rest at the end.

Perhaps Weer isn't working out where his life went wrong (because until he
does his spirit cannot rest) but is just going through a period of
adjustment (which is more or less automatic and inevitable), of leaving all
the things that bind him to his old life (including his memories) behind so
that his spirit/soul/essence can go to its final destination

This is reminiscent of what happens to the dead man in Peter S. Beagle's
novel, _A Fine and Private Place_. (I read this many years ago and liked it
a great deal at the time. Whether I would now, I don't know.)

William Ansley

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

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