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From: "Tony Ellis" <tony.ellis@futurenet.co.uk>
Subject: (urth) Driving past Castleview
Date: Tue, 09 Jan 2001 09:59:10 +0000

Spectacled Bear wrote:

> Does that mean you can answer all, many, or even some of
> the long list of questions I posted a few weeks ago?
I did say I would have a bash at those myself. Dan'l Danehy-Oakes made
some interesting suggestions, here are some of mine. Three key points

1. I would like to resurrect Nutria’s argument that Casteview is “about
perception”. This is a recurring theme in Wolfe’s work, and a
particularly important one here. Wolfe makes Shields spend two solid
pages explaining to Bob Roberts how people who saw a castle with three,
four or even five towers could actually have been seeing the same
castle. He even makes a little model, for pity’s sake. Wolfe could have
saved himself a big wodge of expository writing here simply by saying
that everyone who saw the castle saw the same number of towers. That he
didn’t suggests to me that he wants us to think about people seeing the
same thing differently because they’re seeing it from different

2. Tom Stoppard once described “Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead”
as the dramatic equivalent of driving past Elsinore castle. You might
see a ghost on the ramparts, you might glimpse a funeral procession in
your wing mirror, but like poor R and G themselves you would have no
idea from these snapshots what the “real story” was all about. I find
that a useful way of thinking about Castleview.

3. We see the supernatural characters, which Dan'l Danehy-Oakes usefully
identifies as “fey”, primarily in terms of late western European
mythology, and particularly Arthurian mythology. But as with the Latro
books, Wolfe is writing from the post-White Goddess, post-Joseph
Campbell standpoint that understands that mythical characters overlap.
Thus Viviane Morgan isn’t just the Lady of the Lake and Morgan le Fay,
she’s also the Phantom Hitcher – a modern myth which I don’t suppose
dates back much more than 50 years.

> Is Shields really killed?
Nope. See the quote from Morte d’Arthur prefacing the book.

> Who is Liam Fee... Is he really an alien or monster, as he appears to be
> when Hwan Lee stuns him?
He’s an alien and a faerie – different ways of looking at the same
entity. In the fine Wolfe short story “A Cabin On the Coast” a
pipe-smoking leprechaun tells the protagonist “Would ye like to see me
as a tiny green man wi' horns like a snail's? I can do that too.”

> Who is Lucie?
A tenant of Meadow Grass who has been turned into a vampire.

> Why is she pretending to be French, or if she really is French, why does she
> sound American for a while to Sally?
I think she really is French, because that's how she talks when she is
alone with Boomer. I don't know why she drops the accent with Sally, or
why she picks it up again when Seth is mentioned. Wolfe gives us quite a
few hints about Lucie, which makes me feel there’s something here we’re
just not seeing.

> G. Gordon Kitty is great fun
Agreed. I wish there was more of him in the novel.

> What's all the business with the organ playing in the museum?
I can’t improve on Dan’l’s "cool effects?" With its insanely,
ludicrously frenetic pace, and magically-transformed cats, I don’t think
this is a book we are supposed to take –too- seriously.

> Viviane Morgan appears to be Vivian *and* Morgan le Fay. How does she
> manage to be both?
Because these are just our personifications of the same supernatural

> 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?
Seems so to me. Given that he’s the leader of Morgan’s troops in the
final battle, and gives Shields his mortal wound, I suspect that he’s
also Mordred.

> Is all the trouble at Meadow Grass to do with the attempts to kill Wrangler?
Not necessarily. The camp has the misfortune to be both isolated and
located near a gateway to Faerie, so a certain amount of mischief seems

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

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