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From: Peter Westlake <peter@harlequin.co.uk>
Subject: re: Re: (urth) Making sense of Castleview
Date: Thu, 07 Dec 2000 23:17:47 +0000

At 18:34 2000-12-07 +0000, Tony Ellis wrote:
>But surely “how it ends” is just your good old-fashioned pagan fertility
>ritual, as documented in everything from ‘The White Goddess’ to ‘The
>Wicker Man’? Winter (old king Geimhreadh ) kills the year (the Green
>Man) so that it can be reborn in the spring. Shields is the
>fool-hero-king who had to be sacrificed to bring this about.

Fair enough (I found out that Geimhreadh meant Winter and felt
very pleased with myself, though all I did was a web search),
and the idea of rebirth explains what that's for nicely.
But the details are still somewhat obscure. Is Shields really
killed? He does wake up, after all, and there's no mention of
him being a ghost or zombie like Jim Long. Admittedly the text
does say that the connection between the fairies and the spirits
of the dead is obscure.

But what about the rest of the details? Who is Liam Fee, and
why does he want to buy the house? Is he really an alien or
monster, as he appears to be when Hwan Lee stuns him?
At least we know that he killed Tom, and his immediate
reason, if not his ultimate motives.

Are Jose Balanco and Hwan (which sounds a lot like "Juan") Lee
the equivalent of Balin and Balan? There's the names and the
killing of a brother.

Who is Lucie? Why is she pretending to be French, or if she
really is French, why does she sound American for a while
to Sally? Do we agree that she appears and disappears a lot,
and doesn't show up in mirrors? She's afraid of water too,
like a cat, and her name, Carabas, is from Puss in Boots.
I can't buy Robert Borski's theory that she is the same as
G. Gordon Kitty, though!

G. Gordon Kitty is great fun, and one of the most explicable
figures. I take him to be just what he seems, Judy's cat
transformed by the magic of the fairy realm.

What's all the business with the organ playing in the museum?
There are hints in it of trolls, which tells us who took the
diary, but why? Why play the music?

Viviane Morgan appears to be Vivian *and* Morgan le Fay.
How does she manage to be both?

Does Sally really take up with von Madadh at the end?
How does Mercedes feel about that, if he killed her father?

Von Madadh is King of Hounds or Wolves, and he's the dog
that Sally thinks is Rexy. But what's he doing? Is he just
there to lure everyone to the Castle?

Is all the trouble at Meadow Grass to do with the attempts
to kill Wrangler? It all seems rather indirect if so. If
not, what is it about?

What is Sally doing in the wagon with the wild horsemen?
We see Sissy join them and enter Castleview, but it isn't
clear how Sally comes to be there.

There were probably other questions too, but that's all off
the top of my head. Castleview is one of my favourites, and
probably the book of Wolfe's I've read most often, simply
because it's very easy to read, makes sense bit by bit (if
you see what I mean; it's only when you try to work out
why things happen that you realize the simplicity of the
style is so deceptive!) and is chock full of unanswered
questions. There's also some remarkably good characterisation,
which is particularly clever given the almost comic-book
surface style. I'm halfway through reading "Idylls of the King",
but it hasn't been much help so far :-)

Spectacled Bear.

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

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