FIND in
<--prev V28 next-->

From: Michael Andre-Driussi <mantis@sirius.com>
Subject: (urth) "Haunted Boardinghouse" & LITTLE, BIG
Date: Wed, 8 Mar 2000 10:11:36 

Patera Nutria wrote:
>>"The Haunted Boardinghouse."  Well, this is related to John Crowley's
>>LITTLE, BIG: if you didn't know that the house-with-no-back [eek!  what are
>>you saying?!] is like the five-faced house in LB, then there is also
>>Crowley's name as one of the 20th century literary giants given in the
>>text.  This story ends exactly like a John Crowley story almost always
>Great link, but don't forget *The Name of the Rose* as a major player here.
>(labyrinth, library, latin).

I honestly can't see much of a link between "THB" and THE NAME OF THE ROSE.

THE NAME OF THE ROSE and LITTLE, BIG spoilers to follow:

In LITTLE, BIG the house that is central (axial?) to the novel (and its
universe) has five faces.  Each face is in a different architectural style;
there is a strong suggestion throughout the text that each face is linked
to a different season (granted that seasons normally number four to us
modern mortals); we only see three of the faces in the text, through a few
clever tricks that are meant to show us the "seam" of artifice; a fourth
style is mentioned, and the fifth one can be deduced (pregnant with

In LB there is a big battle being waged on another plane, or a few planes
at once: this battle draws together odd people from across time and space;
some famous, some unknown.  Part of the draw, for some, is a fervent belief
in =fairyland=, in particular the matter written by Anglo-American fantasy
authors (special emphasis on Victorian writers); fans are =recruited= for
this vast enterprise.  The other plane has many aspects that look like
death, and it is ambiguous; however, there is no ambiguity in the fact that
the hero dies a real death at the threshold so that others may go on.

In LB the hero is led into this situation by a lovely woman who, in the
end, is willing to lie to him in order to get the whole project
completed--it might seem a stretch to compare Daily Alice with Mrs. Seely,
but just think of those sexy old airline commercials, put through a slight
warp: "I'm Death--come fly me!"

The mystery of the hero being confused as to the love-object's identity
(Mrs. Seely and Ms. Death) is important to the betrayal of the hero in LB,
but plays a much larger role in John Crowley's AEGYPT series (which
same-named woman did he dally with in the dark that night: the bright one
or the dark one?).

I trust that all these points have clear relevance to "THB": each face
leads to a different time; the big battle; the recruitment; the love
triangle; the betrayal; the special person who is used to activate and
complete the action, through his own death; etc.

Contrast with THE NAME OF THE ROSE.  "THB" is, to me at least, in no sense
a detective work ala Sherlock Holmes, let alone a negation of detective
fiction; NOTR is both of these.  "THB" is not a send up of academic life,
nor is it much about campus infighting, nor the brutality lurking beneath
the veneer of intellectual pursuits.  The library in "THB" is not a central
key that reveals all, or even very much, or even that it was all just a
joke; the organization of the library is a non-event, rather than an
exciting revelation.  The Latin in "THB" is strictly classical/pagan,
rather NOTR's medieval/theological; the timeframes are wildly different.
The use of Latin in the text is all a part of the recruitment, the
"fiction," if you will, that is the hook that draws the hero from his
mundane world of consentual reality (neo-Victorian) into the world of
consentual dream (ancient Rome as studied by post-Medieval students) where
the hero feels he would rather be, and where the hero's talents will be put
to concrete, immediate use.  In NOTR, "fiction" leads to self-delusion for
the investigators, such that one cannot see the real; one's special talents
are misdirected, wasted. A "Don Quixote-downbeat," if you like.

But maybe I'm misremembering, or misunderstanding the reference points that
are supposed to tie "THB" to NOTR.


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

<--prev V28 next-->