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From: "Dan'l Danehy-Oakes" 
Subject: Re: (urth) Sev's not-so-perfect memory
Date: Fri, 11 Jul 2003 10:04:09 -0700

I didn't see Crush's original post.

> >Blattid disagrees:
> >Roy,
> >In most of the (apparent?) contradictions you list, you make an 
> >assumption ... you cite Sev talking about an incident, then say that what
> >says is wrong, because it contradicts what he said in his direct 
> >of the incident. The point here is, what is your basis for thus 
> >the direct narration, when both are from the same source (i.e., Sev)?

> >Crush butts in:
> >I'm not sure I understand your point, O Leggy One. I don't think Roy
> >one incident over another.

By calling one "wrong," it seems to me that he implies that the other is 
My point is that I don't see any justification for that; in fact, I think 
that it may
be undecidable, when Sev gives contradictory accounts, which is "true."

> >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
> >must be wrong.

I'm not as sure that this must be true. Consider the Narrator's ability to 
a story as it's being told. Now, I think we can agree that Severian is at 
as close to omnipotent as the Narrator; we know that Severian is a 
and we know that Severian claims that there have been previous versions of
himself.  I think we should at least _consider_ the possibility that 
Severian, in
telling his story, actually changes his history.

Alternatively, he could be lying (or wrong) about his memory.

Alternatively, he could be telling the truth about his memory, but the 
of memory (not only his) may be more complex than it appears at first 

Alternatively, he could be lying about some of the incidents -- which was my
point about which version is more likely to be "edited" to suit his purposes
(whether they be political, propagandistic, historical, or merely 

>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.

That strikes me as the least likely hypothesis in general (though it may be
correct in any _given_ case).

>"...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.


>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?

Or might it be that Wolfe is implying something more complex...


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