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From: "James Wynn" 
Subject: Re: (urth) Sev's not-so-perfect memory
Date: Fri, 11 Jul 2003 16:02:19 -0600

Blattid asserts:
That [all the discrepancies are mistakes on Wolfe's part] strikes me as the
least likely hypothesis in general (though it may be correct in any _given_

Crush agrees:
I'm with you on this, Blattid. Especially the first and most glaring
discrepancy -- that of whether Drotte or Roche mentioned the pikes. As has
been said before, The first couple pages are the part of any novel that is
most likely to be pristine. For this to have slipped through unnoticed would
dismay me.

Blattid goes on:
By calling one [description] "wrong," it seems to me that he implies that
the other is  "right." 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."

Crush attempts to clarify:
Granted. But for Severian to boast about his infallible memory and then give
contradictory accounts about trivial details, it questions his account of
his memory and his level of self-delusion about it far more than his general
account of the events.

Blattid suggests:
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
egotistical)...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?

Crush responds:
That Severian is lying about these things strikes me as less likely than
that they are typos (and I don't think it is likely _as a whole_ that they
are typos). The discrepancies at issue are just _too_ trivial -- too trivial
too lie about, but not too trivial to prove Roy's point. If the
discrepancies were about big things, it would be obvious to argue that
Severian was lying or covering up the truth. But what reason is there to lie
about whether Drotte or Roche mentioned pikes?

With each discrepancy discovered close to a claim of inerrant memory, the
likelihood of any of them being typos decreases as well.

-- Crush


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