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From: Michael Andre-Driussi <mantis@sirius.com>
Subject: (urth) PEACE: Adam & The Princess
Date: Sun, 22 Oct 2000 16:21:49 

Adam wrote:
>In a way, though, Peacock's and Macafee's courtships are inversions of
>the fairy tale.  Peacock discovers rare, hidden things but (presumably
>unlike the prince of gnomes) keeps them for himself.  And in the Chinese
>egg affair, Olivia tries to maneuver Macafee into using his trading
>prowess for her benefit, like the merchant; but her plan backfires
>somehow, and she ends up buying the egg herself.

>And the inversion also applies to Blaine: he makes out that running a
>bank doesn't interest him and is beneath him, but from his overheard
>words to Ricepie (p. 91 of the first edition) we know this is a pose.

I can agree with at least some of these points.  The relation of the fairy
tale to the "realistic" version we can glimpse is rather elastic at points
of fine detail, and this in the one case that is "easy": tagged by Den
himself, as it were, as a bridge between what he will write and what he
cannot bring himself to write.

What we can see of Olivia and her mate-selection, she seems to be
"wrestling" with each suitor within his realm of expertise: she plays
intellectual/academic games with Peacock, undercutting belief in factual
truth with a faith that most things are just colorful lies (see for example
her lecture on new names of flowers); she does the merchant game with
Macafee, but notice how again there is a tension between "artificial"
(i.e., chinoiserie; her socially acceptable forgery) and "authentic" (the
Chinese Egg; which seems to have begun as an olive pit [signifying
"Olivia"] inside a china hen left in the Cave of the skull on that trip
with Peacock and Den--talk about weirdly beautiful!).

>> The story itself seems to be one taken from Andrew Lang's fairy books
>> (based upon the context it appears in; the style of the story; the
>> illustrations it has), and since the text of PEACE mentions THE GREEN FAIRY
>> BOOK, we might reasonably assume it to be there.
>> It is not.  Nor is it in any of the many other Lang books.
>Are any of the many embedded tales in Wolfe's works taken directly from
>(as opposed to being modelled on) an earlier work?  None spring
>immediately to mind.

In the case of "The Student and his Son," the story is presented as
original but is obviously based upon "Theseus and the Minotaur"; likewise
other brown book tales, like "The Tale of a Boy Called Frog."

While it isn't an embedded story, in the case of "The Death of Koshchei the
Deathless," Wolfe says it is Lang, and it is Lang.

The funny (or is it somehow "punny"?) thing is, Smart's tale of Mr. Tilly,
haunted by the ghost, is actually the closest thing I've found to a real
story in ARABIAN NIGHTS; yet you probably wouldn't guess it, since the
style is straight Southern Gothic . . . but now I've jumped the gun.  I'll
say no more on that for now.

>> If the princess is a virtual prisoner, we would expect the king to act more
>> like her jailor, but instead he asks after each vanished suitor, and the
>> princess gives vague, ellusive answers.  This suggests that the princess
>> has the power, and is living apart by her own design and desire (which
>> certainly seems to fit Olivia); and it almost seems as if the princess has
>> actually _consumed_ the three men.
>> Well!  This puts a different spin on things: the princess is perhaps less
>> Andromeda than she is a siren.  Her exile is perhaps less for her safety
>> than the safety of the kingdom.  In short, she is a monster-bride.
>Cute; but Weer explicitly attributes the princess's exile to the king's
>jealousy of the princess's future husband (62).  Nor does his
>questioning strike me as inconsistent with his role as jailer: he wants
>to know if the unwelcome suitors are still threats.

While I may have over-stated her oddness in order to shock people away from
seeing her as a helpless princess, I will argue strongly against your
interpretation of the king's reaction: look here, at the first case.

"In time, of course, word of this young man's fame reached the king, and he
sailed out to pay a second visit to his daughter. He found her alone, but
[when?] he asked the whereabouts of that paragon of paladins, the youngest
son of the king of the gnomes, she would say nothing but that his kisses
had tasted too strongly of fresh-turned earth"

The king seems to think highly of the gnome prince!  Likewise, the second
suitor: "When her father asked what had become of the enterprising merchant
lad . . . " (If the king is paying any attention at all, he would =like=
the girl to marry suitor one, two, or even three! <g>)

Well, having said that, if you still believe what you believe, then we just
move on to the next story.


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

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