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From: StoneOx17@aol.com
Date: Fri, 11 Apr 2003 12:36:27 EDT
Subject: Re: (urth) Seven American Nights 

I just got around to catching up on the Urth list, and I saw the questions 
about Seven American Nights.  Nobody's answered many of them yet, 
so here are my answers.

> 1) What caused the "genetic damage" in America?  At one point  
> Nadan makes a reference to artificial hormones used to grow cattle 
> more quickly, so I at first assumed that it was caused by food which
> treatment unbeknowst to the population slowly caused damage, 
> like mad cow disease today.

Gene Wolfe used to be an engineer working in the food industry.  With 
this connection, the reference to the cattle hormones, and Nadan's 
dream of the never-staling bread (which Robert Borski likens to a 
corrupted version of the Eucharist in an interesting set of posts that 
appeared here a while ago), I am convinced that food additives are to 

(and quoting out of order)
> I also find ironic Wolfe's clever reversal of an inhabitant of a developing 
> country coming to America for sex tourism and drug tourism instead 
> of vice versa, as Wolfe could have observed in the sixties and seventies 
> when hippies were making escapes to Afghanistan and Goa.
> Also, the Arab world is clearly superior in this novel, perhaps because 
> Europe has been wiped out in a Cold War shootout, though apparently 
> Rome is still around.

Nadan may be from Iran because of Wolfe's inspiration from Montesquieu's 
"Persian Letters," a book from I have read only the four "troglodyte" 
letters {because of their connection to "Peace").  "Persian Letters" has a 
set-up similar to Seven American Nights, with a Persian tourist visiting and 
commenting on early 18th Century France.

> 2) So, Ardis is the creature Nadan shot, right? But I don't understand 
> why she wants to take him to the interior. 

My take is that Ardis and Kreton (her lover) have a "business" that involves
taking rich tourists to the interior, robbing and killing them.

> 3) The police are clearly conspiring against Nadan, so could the entire 
> population be evil mutants like Ardis? But Nadan doesn't say there was 
> anything abnormal about the three prostitutes who came to his hotel room.

Borski's theory, which I subscribe to, is that it wasn't the police who 
Nadan's hotel room, but one of the actors (I forget his name, but the one 
didn't show up that night) conspiring with Ardis and Kreton.  

> 4) What is the secret under Mt. Rushmore? 

Is there one?  I've been assuming that was just a rumor, but I can't really

Borski's posts are definitely worth looking up.  I'm not sure I agree with 
everything he says, but I'm convinced he has identified the missing


Stone Ox


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