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Date: Mon, 16 Dec 2002 08:55:31 -0600
Subject: Re: (urth) Free Live Free round table part 3
From: Adam Stephanides 

This response is way late, but...

on 11/30/02 6:30 PM, Michael Andre-Driussi at mantis@siriusfiction.com

> Adam Stephanides wrote:
>> I always took it for granted that the four would become the quadrumvirate of
>> the prediction who, having improved themselves by merging with their past
>> selves, would take power and overthrow the forces of Big Government who had
>> destroyed Free's house, killed Free and set out to crush the dreams of the
>> four.  As you say, it can hardly be a coincidence that Madame Serpentina uses
>> the same word both times; and the book as a whole seems to lead up to this
>> conclusion.
> Well . . . maybe.  This "Libertarian" reading holds up well until it
> becomes clear that Free is killed by his own daughter (the "anti-Electra,"
> I guess); and that the "big rich powerful conspiracy group" is not Big
> Government at all, but Whitten and his merry band, who are mostly acting in
> the dark trying to find their own Whitten.

Having reread the end of FLF (from the man in the duffel coat's speech), I
see that I'd gotten the circumstances of Free's death wrong, and that the
U.S. government is no longer being run from the High Country.  But
nevertheless I think my reading still holds up.  When the man in the duffel
coat arranges to have the four's dreams crushed, he is acting (he thinks) as
an agent of Big Government; granted, it's the Big Government of 1942, but I
very much doubt that Wolfe thinks the federal government has improved since
then.  And the man in the duffel coat's speech, it seems to me, establishes
Big Government as the book's philosophical antagonist, whether or not he
believes it himself at this point.

I see the revelation that Whitten who will become Free is on the High
Country, and that he has been "conspiring" to help the four (unknown to his
past self as well as to his subordinates), not as undermining the anti-Big
Government position, but as Wolfe's way of giving the story a fairy-tale
happy ending -- like Dorothy learning that she can still get home even
though the balloon is gone, if you will.

And if the four will not become the quadrumvirate of Madame Serpentina's
prediction, what was the point of including the prediction at all?



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