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From: "William H. Ansley" <wansley@warwick.net>
Subject: Re: (urth) In Looking Glass Castle
Date: Sun, 6 Sep 1998 00:51:40 

>This is my assertion and it's one of two speculative claims I make about
>"In Looking Glass Castle"--the other being that the man Daisy McKane sees
>first in her house, then later on the Frances Alda, may be a figment of her
>overwrought imagination.

I find your second "speculative claim" about ILGC much easier to swallow
than your first, in fact it even occurred to *me* that she might be
imagining the man without too much speculation on my part. At times, it
even seems likely, especially when she sees him on the ship.

I agree that there seem to be links between the mysterious former owner of
the house (Jane something) and Daisy McKane. And I don't find it completely
far fetched that Daisy might have reacted to seeing "the stowaways's
bearded face" below decks by rushing back above decks (I apologize if I am
using what I fondly imagine to be nautical terms incorrectly here--I am no
sailor) and somehow falling overboard and drowning. But what you call
"living backwards" seem like no more than old-fashioned foreshadowing to me.

I won't try to refute your all arguments point by point right now for lack
of time (and desire) but let's look at your penultimate paragraph.

>As for the Pearl/Jane/cistern connection, notice how, just before the
>Frances Alda sails, Daisy is reading a book by Joan Somebody called Cradle
>of the Sea. Like the dead person in the cistern, Daisy is in an enclosure
>surrounded by water; subsequently she drifts off to sleep--which parallels
>an earlier dream where "She dreamed that she was Jane, head-down in the
>cistern". But where else are pearls formed, if not the cradle of the sea?
>And it is this confused memory of the future, conjoined with the present
>(the discussion of Pearl IV's death), which leads to the earlier
>supplanting of the Jane/surf notion with the Jane/cistern scenario.

I don't really see much of a parallel. A cistern is a tank full of water
and a boat is (in effect) a tank full of air, built to keep water out.

Pearls can be said to be formed in "the cradle of the sea" but a much more
specific answer and one much more likely to elicite an association of
"pearl" is  "in an oyster."

Earlier, you claim that "Pearl, the neighbor [the fat woman], makes two
confusing remarks about drowned females, one being Jane, the other being
Pearl IV, her third cloned daughter." I really don't see how you can read
her remarks as confusing, unless you believe Pearl is either being
deliberately misleading or is demented. Pearl talks about death by cistern
immediately and as an apparent response to being asked about the death of
"the woman who owned my house" by Daisy. Except for one bit of evidence,
which you don't mention at all. (I am in awe of your restraint here.)

What Daisy first thinks she hears as an answer to her question is the
phrase "her sisters got her." When Pearl is asked to elucidate she replies,
"I said the cistern got her. Fell down it head first." Of the two people
Pearl and Daisy had just been speaking of (Jane Something and Pearl IV) we
know Pearl IV had sisters. It seems very unlikely that Jane did, since no
relatives had come to claim her belongings. Perhaps Pearl (the original)
knows or thinks she knows that Pearl II and Pearl III ganged up on Pearl IV
and pushed her in the cistern, drowning her. This might be enough to make
Pearl unable to think clearly when talking about death by drowning and to
reverse her replies to Daisy's questions.

I like this idea because it explains the "her sisters got her" remark.
Since this is Wolfe we are talking about it seems impossible to think that
this apparently misheard phrase can have no meaning. But, even if I accept
this fully, I still don't see that it supports Daisy "remembering" her
drowning in the future.

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

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