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Date: Thu, 24 Oct 2002 13:26:34 -0400
From: William Ansley 
Subject: Re: (urth) Optical connections

At 12:20 AM 10/24/2002 -0400, you wrote:

>One Peace note: in that stream of consciousness part near the beginning 
>(about the synthetic deer and the orange tribe) Weer asks "What is a wabe?"
>It appears in Jabberwocky and I found a website which gives Carroll's 
>definitions as well as Humpty Dumpty's:
>Wabe (derived from the verb to swab or soak).
>The side of a hill (from its being soaked by the rain.)
>Without the book here that definition doesn't help me at all. Anyone?

Finally, a question that falls into my area of expertise (such as it is), 
Lewis Carroll!

In the passage from _Peace_ you mention above, Weer is thinking about 
nonexistant races of men. I don't have my book with me and so can't 
remember the details, but from what you say above, it was the 
orange-skinned people who worshiped sundials. The passage continues to the 
effect that, after the threat of legal action allows the "orange tribe" 
into the country club, "they out with strange oaths. What's a wabe?" (I am 
reconstructing the quote from memory.)

The definition of wabe that helps here is not the one you quote above, 
which is the one Carroll gave for the first[1] version of Jabberwocky, but 
the one Humpty Dumpty gives in _Looking-Glass_:

The grass plot round a sundial ... because it goes a long way before it, 
and a long way behind it ... and a long way beyond it on each side.

This is word play. The sound of the word "way" is combined with the sound 
of the common first letter of "before," "behind" and "beyond" to produce 
the word "wabe." (My apologies to everyone who already understood this 

Because these people worship sundials, their oaths sometimes refer to 
sundials or the plots of grass surrounding them, the wabes. (Naturally, as 
sundial worshippers, they are familiar with Carroll's works, just as I 
would expect them to be with Wolfe's.)

[1] The first stanza of Jabberwocky (in slightly different form) was 
written by Lewis Carroll when he was still a boy, in a little private 
periodical he created by hand for the entertainment of his siblings. He 
referred to it as a "Stanza of Anglo-Saxon Poetry." Most interestingly, 
Carroll provides a gloss of the poem, in which he defines some of his 
invented words differently than he would later in  _Looking-Glass_.

The link below will take you to a page with a reproduction of the 
hand-lettered poem.

William Ansley


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