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From: "William H. Ansley" <wansley@warwick.net>
Subject: Re: (whorl) Nightside again, chapter one
Date: Sun, 13 Dec 1998 01:40:53 

>>2. And another thing,back to  the first paragraph: 'he said that it
>>was as though someone who had always been behind him and standing
>>(as it were) at both his shoulders had, after so many years of
>>pregnant silence, begun to whisper into both his ears'
>>This echoes TS Eliot's Waste Land: 'Who is that who walks behind you'
>>(Eliot's note refers to polar explorers, but that's a red herring).
>>Both refer to some passage in the Bible, presumably after the
>>Resurrection where Jesus is seen by various people, but where? And
>This reminds me of the passage in PEACE, in which Aunt Olivia is speaking to
>Katie and says:
>"Who's that behind you?"
>"It's just little Den, Katie.  He's been there before."
>"Yes, but there's another, dimmer yet, behind him."
>"I can only see the one behind me, Katie."
>I think mantis cited the Eliot reference when I first mentioned this.  In
>fact, straight from the archives:
>I have to admit that this rings bells
>in the literary dept. of my brain--T.S. Eliot's "The Wasteland,"
>wherein the same haunting question is derived from the journals of
>English adventurers climbing Mt. Everest and having hallucinations
>from lack of oxygen.  (It also evokes the missionaries in the jungle
>garden of Nessus sensing the presence of Severian and Agia.)  But, to
>get back to PEACE, I suspect that the dimmer one is the reader."You."
>I don't have anything new to add to the discussion, since (sigh) I've never
>read The Wasteland, but I thought I'd throw something out there for you all
>to chew on.
>Jason Voegele

I'm afraid I just can't let this pass, even though I suppose I am picking
nits. In the passage quoted above from _Peace_, the person speaking to Katy
is not Aunt Olivia, it is Hannah, Weer's mother's (and grandmother's) cook,
as a girl. This passage occurs when Weer is remembering when Hannah told
him (when he was a boy) a story that her (Hannah's) mother's
maid-of-all-work, Katie, had told her. Katie can 'see' Weer listening to
the story and "another, dimmer yet, behind him." Hannah can tell her that
Weer (little Den) is there because she 'knows' that she is telling him the
story. (Why can Katie see Weer and the one behind him? Because she is Irish
and has second sight?) The "dimmer" one is, I agree with mantis, the
reader, who is reading the story that Katie told Hannah who told Weer who
wrote it down for us to read, thereby telling it to us.

I came to this conclusion myself, long ago, after reading _Peace_ for the
3rd or 4th time and puzzling over this passage. The realization that Wolfe
was, in effect, talking about *me* here hit me with the force of revelation
at the time. I found it a much more effective trick than the one Wolfe used
in _Exodus from the Long Sun_ where the alert reader discovers that the
person telling the story is Horn (when he refers to himself as "I" at one
point). (I have to admit I wasn't a very alert reader; I didn't really
notice this until it was pointed out to me in this list.)

I won't claim that my interpretation of the passage is the only correct
one, but to me it the only one that makes sense.

William Ansley

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