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From: "Tony Ellis" <tony.ellis@futurenet.co.uk>
Subject: (urth) Re: Stuff, Temptation
Date: Tue, 23 Nov 1999 11:02:08 +0000

> >>And Pip, and Holden Caulfield, and Graves' Claudius, and...
> Yes. We take it as read, surely, that whatever a
> first-person narrator tells us is filtered through his own
> perceptions and predjudices. It's a game the author plays with the reader.
> If this is all you mean by Severian "lying to us", then I
> say again, I'm on your side, Roy. But that's not what I
> personally would call it, and I don't understand why you're
> singling-out Severian for something every first-person narrator does.<<
> None of those other narrators claimed to have a perfect memory.

No, but they're assumed to have. They report conversations word-for-word, they tell us exactly what
someone was wearing twenty years after the event. We don't say "oh, so Pip has a photographic memory",
but we also don't quibble and say "oh, he couldn't possibly be remembering all this perfectly."

> Even if we concede him an extraordinary ability to recall events, that
> recall is subject to the same malleability as any other human.

Yes, any other human. But with fictional, first-person narrators, the convention is to overlook this
malleability and assume that what the narrator remembers is what happened.

> It is his repeated insistence that his
> version of events, based on his memories, is the true and correct one which
> causes me to doubt him.

Does Sev actually repeat this -that- many times? In any event, I really think that in this case this is
just a simple narrative device. GW loves 'em. His stories are written in journals, presented as
dialogues, recorded in electronic devices, scribbled on a scroll with a lead stylus before the narrator
can forget them. In "I-Bem" the medium is the robot's own fading memory chips. In the case of TBOTNS,
instead of having to -assume- that a narrator has perfect recall when he reports every conversation and
event , as we have to do with every other first-person story, we have a narrator who really can pull
off this trick.

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

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