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From: Peter Westlake <peter@harlequin.co.uk>
Subject: Re: (urth) Driving past Castleview
Date: Thu, 11 Jan 2001 18:41:23 +0000

At 09:59 2001-01-09 +0000, Tony Ellis wrote:
>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

That's very true. These things don't get in there by accident,
especially with Wolfe. Like the talos factory. So I agree,
perception is important, and that explains why some people
see aliens, others fairies, others wild Indians. The same thing
happens here, of course, though they tend to be weather balloons.

>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.

It certainly describes how it feels to read it! I hope for something
a little more than that, though, even if we never understand everything.
It already makes more sense that it did the first couple of times I read it.

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

Ah! So, was he carrying the scabbard? I'll have a look when I get home.

>> 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.”

Yes. His "monster" form may be his true shape or a wild distortion
caused by partial concussion. I quite like both of those ideas :-)

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

Like Sancha? Sancha really *is* turned into a vampire,
complete with an almost plausible rational explanation
very reminiscent in tone of those interviews in which
Wolfe argues for the reality of Bigfoot in historical
times, or the Greek gods. Like the Bigfoot/troll, this
is a case of Faerie being much more physically and
objectively "real" (in the story, and in Wolfe's real-life
opinions) than we would expect. But I digress. Why would
Lucie be afraid of Sancha, or vulnerable to her? Her name
is "de Carabas", too, which strongly suggests she is from
the Other Side, not an innocent camper.

>> 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.

Very true, but everything else *fits* so neatly. It isn't just
supernatural effects carelessly thrown in for effect - there
clearly is some deeper theme. Perception, and the Arthurian
myth are two things that pull it all together. I just don't
believe in loose ends in Wolfe, especially not big loud ones.

>> 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

Well, yes, but there do seem to be two of them in Arthur. I think.

>> 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.

He echoes Mordred in those respects, certainly. I wonder if there
are any other parallels? We are dealing with resonances rather than
exact correspondences, of course, but it may shed some light somewhere.
He seems too likable to be Mordred, though. When he isn't killing the
book's main protagonist, of course ...

>> 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

That might be it.

Spectacled Bear.

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

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