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From: "Roy C. Lackey" 
Subject: Re: (urth) Sev's not-so-perfect memory
Date: Fri, 11 Jul 2003 02:56:14 -0500

Crush quoted and wrote:

>Blattid disagrees:
>In most of the (apparent?) contradictions you list, you make an interesting
>assumption ... you cite Sev talking about an incident, then say that what
>says is wrong, because it contradicts what he said in his direct narration
>of the incident. The point here is, what is your basis for thus privileging
>the direct narration, when both are from the same source (i.e., Sev)? If I
>were to privilege one over the other, I would be more likely to go the
>way -- he's more likely to "edit" the incident when he's attending directly
>to it, rather than when he's attending to some other incident in which the
>incident in question is mentioned in passing.  This would be especially
>true, I think, when the passing mention is in reported dialogue; it might
>not occur to him to edit the reported dialogue to match the edited
>Crush butts in:
>I'm not sure I understand your point, O Leggy One. I don't think Roy
>one incident over another. The point is that Severian tells one version at
>one point and another elsewhere -- frequently just at the point where he
>brags about his flawless memory. The point is that one or both versions
>be wrong. No, Severian doesn't "edit" out the discrepancy. The conceit
>to be that he doesn't edit his book at all -- relying on his inerrant
>to carry him through at all times.

Crush said it for me. Perhaps all of the discrepancies I and others have
pointed out over the years are just mistakes made by Wolfe. He makes
mistakes. But Wolfe is also subtle. He causes Sev to go out of his way to
boast "...that I have not scrupled to recount in great detail things that
transpired years ago, and to give the very words of those who spoke to me,
and the very words with which I replied; and you must have thought this only
a conventional device I had adopted to make my story flow more smoothly. The
truth is that I am one of those who are cursed with what is called perfect
recollection." (II, VIII)

That sort of braggadocio is almost a gauntlet thrown down. Sev makes that
sort of boast several times, yet gives contradictory accounts of the same
recollections. That much is fact. I don't think that anyone on this list has
ever maintained that Sev wrote the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but
the truth as he knew it. He clearly deceives, if only by omission, so the
question comes down to: are the demonstrated errors of recollection subtle
clues left by Wolfe as unspoken commentary on Sev's veracity, or did Wolfe
make that many mistakes?



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